The following is a guest post by ChopDawg.com, an award-winning app development company that has worked with over 180+ startups and companies from all around the globe, helping them bring their web apps, mobile apps, wearable apps and software ideas to life.
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I’ve written at great length about the costs of building an app.
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to create a full app right away.
No matter whether you are hiring a freelancer, hiring an employee, or working with an agency, it comes down to this honest question that you need to ask yourself:
What is your necessary minimum budget for your idea to gain traction as a product? Going through this checklist will help you get to that answer:
1. You need to create a business plan.
2. What are you comfortable with investing?
3. Determine the minimum and maximum time frame you are ready to have your app built.
4. Identify and then validate that your targeted audience exists.
5. Come up with a one-pager to explain your concept to your proposed audience. See the response.
6. What is the absolute minimum that you need to do to communicate your vision to an audience?
7. What is your distribution strategy? How will your audience find your app?
8. Can you start with a prototype or do you need a minimum viable product (MVP)?
In some ways, even if you can afford to build a fully functioning app, make sure that you don’t blow money you don’t need to blow.
One of the biggest problems that can happen when hiring someone is that there is too much room for interpretation in the scope of work. Not specifying the exact details of what the project’s production cycle needs to look like can lead to something that I call scope creep.
You shouldn’t be blowing a ton of money to validate whether an idea works, period. But you have alternatives.
Let’s clear this up – there’s a big difference between an MVP and a prototype.
To highlight the difference front and center, we add the word non-functioning to our prototype services.
When some agencies (especially offshore) offer to make you a “prototype,” what they are mostly selling is a crappy, underperforming product. You see, you can only program something in two ways. Correctly, or poorly. When coded poorly, it means if your app does take off in attracting users, you’ll have a userbase that craters quickly. Also, when your app has a shoddy codebase, often the app will need to be rebuilt from the ground up anyway if you want to make something that is ready for the market. That is why we and the best of the industry focus on non-functioning prototypes for pre-market apps.
“Non-functioning” is the finalized interactive design that can work on any device, and best of all, once you can secure funding, it’ll be much easy to code it into a working app. It also mitigates your risk, as a non-functioning prototype also allows you to test out app development firms such as us, to ensure you are the right fit before making a much more significant investment.
An MVP, on the other hand, is 100% what your final product should be at a minimum. The MVP needs to follow all best practices when it comes to usability – just because it’s an early incarnation of your vision doesn’t mean that it can be shoddily put together. An MVP needs to be easy to build on when you will eventually want to add new features. When we build MVPs for our clients, we are creating the framework for the app that can carry over to each version. It’s fully-functional, and it can support real users on day one.
So what should you do?
The best thing you can do for yourself is to become more informed about your options. Prototypes have the benefit of being lower in costs when investing early on while allowing you to pick up programming at a later date. MVPs are a complete, entry-level (but market-ready) product to your audience that lets you earn real revenue from the get-go. However, they are more expensive to produce in the short-term.
Talk to as many experts as you can that have been through the process of turning their idea into a reality. We offer free consultations, so if you want to talk about your idea so that you can make a more informed call on what to do next, let us know. I would suggest that you take a look at this page to see how you can validate your product idea in steps. You may not need to invest as much as you think.
1. If you aren’t ready to jump to turning your idea into a product quite yet, I’m offering free 1:1 app idea whiteboard sessions!
2. And if you would like to know more about non-functioning prototypes and MVPs, here you go!