Applications have become integral parts of our day-to-day operations, giving us gateways to services we use, entertainment in the palm of our hands, and information we couldn’t access as easily otherwise. As such, a thriving market exists, with corporations looking to hire talented app developers to help create (or improve) their own applications and entrepreneurs with coding skills trying to develop products that go viral on-market.
Whether you’re looking to get employed as an app developer or to go into business for yourself, you should be aware that there’s a lot of competition in the space. It’ll take a particular kind of person to succeed, beating out the competition to make a successful long-term career out of app development.
Average Salaries and Job Prospects
On most job boards, the average salary for an app developer fluctuates greatly, running the gamut from around 30,000 to 120,000 dollars. That’s because depending on where you choose to enter the field and what applications you decide to work on, your earning potential could be much higher or lower.
Your best chances are getting involved with designing an application for a large corporation, as those jobs tend to pay the best. But if you’re looking to go into business for yourself and create your own viral, multi-million dollar app, there’s enough market precedent to suggest that is a reasonable goal: apps like Flappy Bird made roughly 18 million dollars per year. It might just be a bit more difficult to break through.
However, regardless of how you choose to enter the space, you’ll need to have a certain knowledge base to create stellar products. Let’s talk about things you need to know to give yourself the best chance to succeed in app development.
Brainstorm Unique Ideas
In order to enter the app development market, you have to first come up with an idea for an app that meets one or more of these criteria:
- Revolutionizes a current market or service, providing a level of convenience that isn’t currently offered by more established products.
- Fills a hole in the existing market, providing consumers with a service they didn’t know they needed.
- Potentiality to go viral. This last one is more subjective but is a hot subject of study in the app development community. You’ll want to create a product that’s hardwired for maximum engagement, with a hook sharp enough to catch new customers.
Most apps are made to hit more than one of the above points, as it takes a combination of utility and virality to take an application from a mildly useful tool buried in the charts to a ubiquitous, household-name program. You’ll want to have these components in mind while designing the actual user interface, making the app as user-accessible as possible while giving your product a sheen that will attract new customers.
Designing Your Marketable Product
Once you have an idea that integrates all of the concepts described above, you’ll want to go about creating the application. If this is your first foray into programming, you can look into tools that will help you build your first application or take courses that will teach you how to use different programming languages. The latter will likely be more beneficial if you’re looking to make this into a long-term career: tools have limited functionality for people looking to break new ground in the space.
You may also want to research modern app development trends, giving you an idea of what’s currently succeeding in the space and what customers want from new applications.
UX and UI App Design Tenets
While designing the product, you should think about every step of the user’s experience with your product. Thinking about how the user will engage with your application, what kind of layout would best serve their needs, and how you can help users navigate from page to page fluidly.
Your user interface should also be structured to appeal to the customer, adopting the correct aesthetic for the messaging you want to convey. If you’re making an entertainment app, a UI design with vibrant colors and lots of interactable features might serve you well; if you’re designing a banking app, however, a more modern, sleek approach with a minimalistic interface might work better for your purposes.
Adding Application Programming Interfaces
One of the best ways to ensure that users stick around for the long haul with any application is patching in other functions. These features allow applications to work with data and services that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Using application programming interfaces (or APIs), you can allow your app to access additional features such as real-time weather data, news articles from various sources, and even e-commerce sites like Paypal or Venmo. APIs allow your application to patch into an existing network of services and programming that consumers already use, and are invaluable for any beginning app developer. It’s all about finding the right provider of these resources to data.
Market Your Finished Product
Once you’re out of the development stages, you’ll need to develop your own marketing campaign for your app. During the development stage, you should have been thinking about your target audience at each step of the way: now’s the time to reach out to them on platforms they commonly frequent.
An aggressive digital marketing campaign that reaches out to consumers through most major social media companies is highly recommended. To increase your chances of pulling in a bigger audience, post your application on every store that will have you; don’t just limit your app to being an Android or Apple-exclusive.
App development is a competitive space, full of driven individuals looking to crack consumers’ code and learn what makes an app succeed. Combining utility with virality and designing an application that fills an existing hole in the market will give you the best possible chance to succeed in this ever-shifting, ever-competitive industry.