Only Online:How to create a mobile app

Jackie Magher Ashton (Com ’98) and Jay Ashton (GSBA ’02) created Baby Brain, the iPhone app for parents. Forbes named Baby Brain the best cool gadget for new moms.

How to create a mobile appFill a need
Mobile apps abound these days, but the possibility for new apps is limitless. Think of something that could be made more efficient and fun using your app. Come up with something that no one else is doing, or that no one is doing well. We created Baby Brain to do something moms had traditionally done using paper and pencil—tracking their baby’s eating and sleeping habits during those early days. The iPhone came out the week before our first child was born. We wanted an app with Baby Brain’s functionality, but it didn’t exist—so we created it.

Do the research
Research other apps to see what is out there. Did someone already create “your” app? If so,  can you do it better? If there are some competitive apps out there, read their reviews carefully and find out what improvements users want so that you can create a better app.

Find a good developer and strike a good deal
Find an experienced developer that is invested in your idea. Developers are not cheap, and the price per download is low, so you need to be smart about your development costs. We researched development teams that had created successful apps previously for brand name businesses. We were then able to strike a creative revenue-sharing deal with them that lowered our upfront costs significantly. It also motivated the development team to have a vested interest in the overall success of our app.

Test, re-test and test again
The last thing you want is a user who excitedly uses your app for the first time, only to find it immediately crash. Include testing and updates as a part of your contract with your developers so that they are required to make fixes and updates to the app. Think about how your users will be using the app, then test again and again until you are sure there are no problems.

Market your app
App stores are cluttered, and navigating them is difficult. For your app to be successful, you need to market it yourself. Create a website and make it easy for users to contact you. Write a blog about your launch. Reach out to bloggers in the relevant industries and tell them about your app. When you find users who love your app, don’t be shy about asking them to share their thoughts in a review. Post all of your press links to Facebook, Twitter and your website.

Offer great customer support
Users can and will get frustrated using your app, even when it is working just as it should. People just want to be heard and to have their frustrations validated. Respond immediately to customer requests and concerns and stay in close contact with your users.