The potential of apps in today’s market is astronomical – the kings of the store are making over £60,000,000 off an investment of around £110,000. Nothing is stopping you from doing the same, all you need is that golden ticket of an idea, a great marketing strategy and a large budget for both development and marketing. Here are the best 10 pieces of advice I can give you if you’re looking to dive into the business of app making.

1 What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?

When creating your app design, don’t get caught up in making it have too many features. This might seem counterintuitive, but you’re not trying to give someone the inspector gadget’s hat of apps – you want to be solving a single problem. You won’t score points with your testers if the complexity of your app overrides its core purpose.

2 Competitor Research

Take the time to download some of your competitor’s apps and see what they’re doing, and more importantly, ask yourself, how you can do it better. You shouldn’t be making an app if there’s already one that’s exactly the same out there, as this could result in you getting rejected by the store and you’ll be massively out of pocket. Furthermore, if you’re trying to create a photo sharing community, do you want to be competing with the likes of Instagram?

If a competitor’s app is solving the same problem as yours, make sure you’re doing it differently or better.

3 Minimum Viable Product

Your first product available to the public is known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and is a hugely valuable technique for testing your apps concept. The idea is that you provide an app in its bare bones form, strictly keeping the development to a minimum. This allows you to gather an understanding of how your app is perceived before you put all of your eggs in one basket.

Snapchat’s MVP, for example, was simple; it included a 10-second picture that disappeared, with the option to draw on the screen and write text. The design wasn’t aesthetic pleasing at the time either, Spiegal (Snap Inc. CEO) had a clear vision of his audience and was confident that there was a gap in the market for his product. He wanted to strip away the expectation of providing an online version of yourself that doesn’t truly represent who you are as a person and allow people to communicate freely.

In May 2012 the app was doing well for an MVP, averaging 25 images per second. This is when they received a further investment of $485,000 from Lightspeed Ventures and by October 2012, 231 images a second were being downloaded.

Since then they have implemented filters, stickers, stories, live stories and various other features, as well as receiving 2 more waves of investment amounting to $130,000,000. This was all down to their focus on functionality and striving to meet a demand that no one else had even considered and then building upon that platform when the demand is established.

4 App Development Cost

Here’s the most important question. How much money do you need for app development?

This depends on what you want your app to do and who you approach to make it. If you want an app to promote your business and provide a simple method for people to access your product then a ‘Build Your Own App’ software may be most feasible. Whereas if your app requires a more complex development process the price will vary depending on whether you approach a freelance developer or a development company.

‘Build Your Own App’ software (£20-£70 monthly):
This is a great way for small businesses who don’t want to pay developers that hefty lump sum. App builders like AppInstitute provide control over how you want your app to look and the features you want without having to dive into the world of coding; this is achieved through a nifty drag and drop platform.

The price range for particular apps is huge, as it depends on many different factors that affect both the amount of development required and the skill requirements of your developers. A simple wireframe app can start from £6000 and scale up to £40,000, whereas apps with high-end graphics or databases implemented are likely to be anywhere in the 6 figure range.

Here are some examples of the estimated app development cost of apps you’ll be familiar with:

Angry Birds: £110,000
Instagram: £140,000
Whatsapp: £200,000
Uber: £800,000-£1,200,000

Remember these are just costs of app development, you still have to account for marketing!

5 Plan

When you’re aware of the competition, know your function and how you plan to bring it all together; get out the good old pen and paper (I think they still sell those things in some antique shops) and sketch out your design.

Have a checklist of what you want to achieve in your app and identify where this is being achieved and how well it’s working with your current design. This will help you later on in the development process when communicating with your potential developer.

6 From Idea to App Development

So, the prices mentioned above assume that you will be working with a development company, or build your own using an app builder. I’ll talk you through those options in a bit more detail and introduce you to an alternate option.

Build Your Own App

‘Build your own app’ works through a drag and drop platform, similar to many website builders that you may have come across before. They allow you to add tabs with different functions to your app without having to do any coding yourself. This is by far the easiest ‘do it yourself’ method you can use make you an aesthetic pleasing app and is a perfect alternative for a small business.

Development Company

These are people you can pitch your idea to, provide all the relevant information surrounding the app, and work with to achieve your product. They are the most reliable way to get the exact app you want but, as you’d expect are also the most expensive. You get what you pay for so if you’re confident that your idea has a place in the market, seriously consider getting it done professionally.


There’s always the option of reaching out to freelance developers to make your app, However, it’s a risky game. You never know if your pitch is going to effectively transfer over to the app; if you use a freelancer, ensure you’re very clear in what you want and keep an open line of communication throughout the process. If you find the right person to do the job, you can save yourself a lot of money and still get a fantastic app.

7 Marketing Plan

Once you have your idea and you have a rough estimate of the MVP cost, it’s time to plan your marketing. This is something that you should be doing alongside development; do all you can to get your name out there to the right people by targeting the channels your users will most likely use.

Engage with people letting them know what you’re doing and what they should be looking forward to in the near future. Shouting from the rooftops might get you heard, but that doesn’t mean they’ll listen. A more direct approach such as communicating through forums related to your target audience, contact related facebook fan pages, and anywhere else your niche audience is likely to be visiting regularly. This is a great way to get the first 100 users lined up and waiting for your app to be released.

8 Budget

Setting a budget for something that has such a widely varied price is never going to be easy until you have an idea of the route you’re going to take. You should have a rough idea based on your app’s functions, but this can still vary depending on who you choose to make your app.

Other things you have to account for is your marketing plan, maintenance plan and a few unexpected costs that are likely to add up. Many businesses’ suggest a budget of 5% maintain sales and 10% to increase sales, but in the digital market with the right skill set, you needn’t spend anything if you have the time to invest into organic marketing.

How much money and time you want to put into marketing is entirely up to you, but most of all, make sure your app is going to be a spectacle before you account for marketing.

9 Investor?

With an awesome app, perfect plan and a dab of charisma, you have a great chance to seek out potential investors. Perfect your ‘Elevator Pitch’ and show confidence in your future success and you might just land yourself a deal.

It’s also a good idea to approach your friends and family as well as dig into your own pocket (not just the company fund) to show your investors how confident you are that you’re going to make a success out of your app.

10 Extended Planning

Keep developing your app through additional features after you’ve made it to the app store; this will help keep people continue to use your app. People don’t tend to stay loyal to an app unless you keep active and provide them with plenty of instant gratification.

This doesn’t really apply to ‘life hack’ style of apps, as long as people have a problem to be solved or a task to be made easier, your app will always be relevant. That being said, if your app is doing well you should always strive to find ways to make it better.


Getting your app from an idea to the store is a rollercoaster of a journey, but seeing your app on the shelves and meeting your projections is a feeling that’s tough to match. So, get the ball rolling and establish your business for it’s continued success and who knows where it will take you? One day you might even be selling your business to Mr. Zuckerberg for 1 billion dollars. Not a bad way to retire is it?

About Ian Naylor

Ian Naylor CEO of Appinstitute

Ian Naylor is the founder and CEO of AppInstitute, one of the world’s leading DIY App Builders (over 70,000 apps built).

Naylor has founded, grown and sold 4 successful internet and technology companies during the past 18 years around the world. He gives seminars as an expert authority on startup mobile app trends, development, and online marketing and has spoken at numerous industry events including The Great British Business Show, Venturefest, the National Achievers Congress and numerous industry exhibitions around the UK.

AppInstitute regularly provides leading publications with app analytics, business data, case studies, white papers and statistics for established publishers across the world. They were named in the top 50 creative companies in England by Creative England.

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