Note from Jimmy Hua: These steps aren’t limited to iPhone applications. It should be the steps for any small business whose business is not software or technology based to use to build any marketing venues using technology.
This post is shared through my Google Reader from another source. All credit of the post belongs to them which you can access by going to HOW TO: Develop a Branded iPhone App on a Budget
Many leading major brands, including Audi, Zippo, Orange and Cadbury, are using branded iPhone apps as a way to reach their target audience. It’s not hard to see why when more than 3 billion apps have been downloaded, and iPhone users are generally young and affluent. A branded iPhone app is a combination of product and entertainment, but most importantly, it cannot be perceived as advertising. When done right, it’s a great way to not only increase brand awareness but drive direct traffic.
These days, branded apps are not just for big corporations with money to burn. They are well within the reach of every small business. A simple, but effective iPhone app can be launched for as little as $750. Here’s how.
Step 1: Pin Down a Useful Idea
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your app has to be groundbreaking or fiendishly clever. Develop a simple app that has a real use for your target audience. For example:
- A world clock that converts multiple time zones (for a watch manufacturer or retailer)
- A customized MMS message generator to celebrate special occasions (for a gift store)
- A baby rattle (baby product manufacturer or retailer)
The app need not be revolutionary or unique, but should be visually attractive, easy to use and serve a useful purpose. The iPhone is designed to be simple and intuitive to use, so your app should be too.
Step 2: Write Up a Spec
Writing a specification document will focus your ideas. It is also the blueprint for the app, which is to be given to the development team. The better the initial specification, the more likely it is that the app will be a success. Never assume that a developer is a psychic and will automatically know what you want. A good spec should have the following elements:
- A functional description. Draft a detailed explanation of the functionality of the product. You should detail, for example, the navigation, functions of each screen and what happens when buttons are pressed.
- Diagrams (or “wireframes”) of the screens. This can be done using Google Docs, Visio or even PowerPoint.
- Style guidelines. To help the designer determine the look and feel, describe the target audience for the app and give examples of designs you admire. Remember, to cut costs, stock images can be cheaply bought from sites like iStockPhoto.
Step 3: Find a Developer/Designer
You can usually hire freelancers at a lower cost than an agency. Building an app will require both design and coding skills. You may not be able to find someone who is good at both, so hiring two freelancers is not uncommon.
Sites such as Elance and oDesk allow freelancers to be sourced from all over the world. By posting the spec on one of these sites and asking for quotes, you will receive multiple offers. Create a shortlist and ask these people for examples of work and references before making a choice. Finally, before staring the project, you should agree on a deadline and specific milestones. The freelancers may require an upfront payment before starting, which is normal, but don’t pay more than 50% up front.
Step 4: Design, Build and Test
Once you have selected your team, the project is ready to start. Each project will have three basic stages.
1. Design. The designer will turn the wireframes into a visual design.
2. Build. The coder will build the app based on the spec using the visuals.
3. Test. Testing should ensure that the functionality detailed in the spec is present and also that the app is robust enough to deal with real users.
Once the work has started, monitor the progress carefully and ask for frequent updates. Always encourage your team to talk directly to each other during the build as this will speed up the development process.
Step 5: Launch It
Apps are published in the iTunes store through a service called iTunes Connect. Once submitted, an app can take several weeks to be approved and be available for download.
There are numerous press and blog outlets that may be interested in covering the release and features of your app, so use the launch as an opportunity to get some PR for your business. Write a press release and distribute it to:
- Press release distribution sites
- iPhone app directories, review sites and blogs
- Publications in your industry
More App Dev Resources from Mashable:
Image courtesy of Flickr, mzdoherty.
Reviews: Apps, Facebook, Flickr, Google Docs, Twitter, iPhone, iStockphoto, test
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