Ten assumptions to avoid when building an app
AuthorBad Dinosaur Team
We’ve delivered over 60 projects since 2016 and we’ve been a part of the discussion in building hundreds more. No two clients are the same, but there is considerable overlap in the assumptions people tend to make. These misconceptions are usually born out of excitement and a strong belief in an idea, which is ultimately a positive indicator. Nonetheless, it’s worth recognising these common pitfalls so you can avoid making the same mistakes others have. Here are some of the most frequent misconceptions we encounter.
Build it and they will come
You could make the most amazing app in the world, but unless you are going to dedicate time and funds to marketing, users won't be able to find it. We often ask our clients to think about the last time they went into the app store to browse for an app to download to their phone - the answer is usually never. Our rule of thumb is to spend the same amount on marketing in year one as you have on building the first version of your app.
The idea is the most important part
Some of the most successful apps out there aren't particularly revolutionary - they are just well made versions of existing ideas. Even if your idea is totally unique and hugely successful, it’s unlikely you’ll remain unchallenged for too long. You have limited control over the ownership of an idea, but you do have control over the quality of the execution - that’s what counts. Ideas are just a multiplier of execution.
Don’t deviate from the original idea
Some of the most successful apps we’ve encountered look nothing like the original brief. Part of the process is about being open to new information, adapting to new opportunities, and evolving to overcome new challenges. Sometimes this will mean pivoting entirely into a new product that scarcely resembles what you first imagined. Don’t be afraid to roll with that.
Software is just for Xmas
Be prepared to continuously maintain and optimise your app, think of it as a living breathing thing, rather than a static one-off. Product and services evolve over time, you’ll encounter new functionality that you didn’t know you needed, we’ll identify ways of making things more efficient. That’s why we like to foster long term relationships with our clients and keep up with what’s going on in their world, so we can work on a roadmap together.
Unicorns are great role models
Unicorns are the exceptions, not the rule, so don't spend too much energy trying to emulate them. You don't need a £1bn valuation to be successful. Try to remember that for every Apple, Netflix, Uber, and AirBnB there are hundreds (if not thousands) of failed ideas that didn’t make it. An app that’s making money and scalable is a lot more successful than a failed app that could have been the next big thing.
It's going to cost a lot of money
One of the biggest assumptions clients make is that it costs a lot to build initial versions of a product. Maybe around 15 years ago when everything needed to be created from scratch it might have cost more, but nowadays a lot of existing frameworks and out-of-the-box components are readily available to us. Many first prototypes can be within the range of a few thousand pounds rather than a few hundred-thousand pounds.
It needs to be perfect
We get how important our clients’ ideas are. Quite frequently they have nurtured this idea for a long time and it means a great deal to them. Sometimes that makes compromising on any element of it really difficult. We build in agile sprint cycles, so we encourage clientss to get something functional out there as soon as they can so we can test, optimise, and iterate. This often means we have to help clients shake the idea that every nook and cranny needs to look flawless, first time.
The potential will be enough
When you hear about huge loss-making apps getting rounds and rounds of funding it's easy to think that investors will be clambering to buy you out when they hear about how good your idea is. We always encourage clients to consider how they will monitise their app from the offset because the potential alone is very rarely enough.
It needs to be able to handle a lot
You’re going to need a hundred users before you have ten thousand users, and it’s probably going to take a while to get to each of those milestones. Our clients often want to future proof their app and ensure that it has the capacity to manage great numbers of users and complex functionality. In reality all you need to worry about for day one is getting a minimum viable product out the door, and into the hands of your users so you can start testing it and proving out your concept. Yes, think about scalability, but don’t let it be your highest priority in the early stages. Traction like that is a great problem to have, and a fairly easy one to solve with today’s scalable cloud services.
Launch is a specific moment in time
There isn’t really such a thing as a ‘launch’ date for an app. Day one is usually quite slow, so don’t get disheartened. You may only get a few users that have come through adverts from other apps, or your marketing campaign. Launches realistically happen over a few months or years because of the new versions you are constantly releasing. It might sound corny but we tell our clients that it really is a journey, not a destination.
At Bad Dinosaur we put a lot of emphasis on building a strong minimum viable product (MVP).This methodology encourages you to keep things simple and keep the focus on the problem you are trying to solve.