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10 Steps to Building a Top-Selling App

One of the possible ways to tackle mobile as an affiliate is to simply run some mobile-optimized campaigns and prepare your site to be highly accessible on mobile in general (something we talked about just recently). The other, and probably much more profitable approach is to launch your own app and reach out to mobile users directly.

Here are the 10 steps to plan, design, build (or have built), and promote your next mobile app:

1. Market Research

Unfortunately, no matter what we’re doing, we should always start with market research. Even if you have a pretty good feel of your affiliate niche, this doesn’t mean that you will be able to produce the best suited app on your first try.

Take a look at what some of the major players are doing and also what’s popular in other verticals. Those ideas can often be applied to your niche as well.

2. Check What’s Trending

There’s no better way of building a successful app than to base it (in some way) on other apps that are already killing it. Browse through App Store and Google Play to find the best iPhone apps and Android apps. Try to list a number of characteristics of the top creations, which you will then be able to use in your own project.

3. Design the User Interface

User experience is the most important thing about any app. We’d even risk saying that it’s more important than the functionality itself. Quite simply, if the users don’t enjoy interacting with your app, they won’t use it on a consistent basis.

Start by designing rough drafts of the individual screens that the user will interact with, and plan the functionality that will be displayed.

(This is something that can be done with some help from people you can find on Elance or oDesk.)

4. Enroll With a Developer Program

Depending on the platform you want to create your app for, you will need to enroll with the right developer program.

5. Hiring Your Workforce

You can program (build) your app yourself. There’s nothing that would prevent you from doing so, except that the process is highly technical and it requires very specialized knowledge and experience in computer programming. It’s, therefore, safe to say that you will be better off hiring some freelancers. Again, you can start your search on Elance or oDesk.

6. Contracts and Legal

Finding a skilled professional is one thing, but signing a quality contract that will set both of you towards success is a completely different challenge. It’s advisable to either get a tested contract template that will protect you as the client, or to create such a contract yourself after browsing various guides and tutorials online. The e-book Contracts for Creatives seems to be a good starting point.

7. Plan the Development Process

App development can take anything from 2 days to 2 months depending on the complexity and the features. If you want to get through this time period smoothly, you will need a plan of action.

Start by listing all of the required features and ask your programmer how much time it’ll take to implement them. Lay these time periods out and create deadlines for each feature. Once the project starts, make sure to request progress updates from your programmer so you can monitor if things are going well.

8. Testing

It’s best to do ongoing testing while the development process is in progress. This will make the final success more probable. You surely don’t want to find out that after months of development the final product doesn’t meet your standards.

Along with the deadlines, require a testable sample of the app, which you can thoroughly examine and give feedback on.

9. Submit to the Marketplace

Developing an app takes a lot of meta-work in general. In other words, it’s work that’s designed to make your app in tune with the App Store’s requirements. For instance, you need an App ID, a distribution certificate, distribution provisioning profile, and so on. Your programmer should be aware of those and know how to set them up.

Moreover, your programmer should also help you to finally submit the app to App Store or to Google Play. If you try doing this on your own, you can get caught up in some tedious tasks for long hours.

10. Promote

In short, online promotion for an app is very similar to online promotion for any other product. You can utilize channels like AdWords, PRs, banner ads, your personal connections, Stumble Upon paid discovery, guest posts on blogs, widgets on your own site, and email marketing to your own and other people’s lists.

Also, take advantage of the App Store’s and Google Play’s native promotion channels and even consider making your app free on launch day.