With the news that 13-year-old Jai Bhavnani has become one of Apple’s newest iPhone and iPad developers, we thought it’s time to take a look at what it takes to become an top app developer and how you make that killer next app to become mega rich.
The young and the prosperous
Although he’s is clearly remarkable to have gained such a position at such a young age, Jai Bhavnani isn’t alone in being successful and very young in the app business.
Nick D’Aloisio was born in 1995 and went on to earn the title of Innovator of the Year from the Wall Street Journal and netted a cool $30 million from Yahoo! for his news reading app Summly. Brian Wong was born in 1991 and co-created a rewards program app called Kiip. Using the tagline “mobile advertising people like”, Kiip allows companies to dish out real-world rewards for in-game accomplishments. Robert Nay was just 14 years old when he came up with the idea of Bubble Ball, which is a physics puzzle game that was downloaded over two million times from the Apple Store in its first two weeks.
The list of names could easily be expanded on, but there is a lot to do if you want to join all these young people who have tasted success so early, in app development. Their stories may be impressive, but these people certainly didn’t reach success easily.
How to become an app developer
App development is the job that just keeps getting better and better, but there are no shortcuts to becoming proficient at designing, building and maintaining an app on either iOS or Android platforms. Even if you’re not a total novice around computers you will still need to build on your knowledge by committing to a lifetime of learning and staying up to date with new developments. There will never be a point when you know it all, regardless of how many courses you do on different operating systems, because this industry moves very swiftly and is always fluctuating.
The first steps are learning the design principles that govern secure stable software design as well as gaining exposure to and an understanding of the different platforms, lifecycles of apps, programming languages and developmental processes. That should be enough to keep you occupied for a few years and once completed adequately you’ll be equipped with the tools to begin to establish yourself as an app developer and you can start looking for the killer app concept. That all might sound a little condescending, but truthfully, there is no shortcut. Although the people above have managed to get into app development at an astonishingly young age, they’re either geniuses or have dedicated most of their time on this earth to learning about computers. If you’re just starting out, you’ll be playing catch-up for a while.
The killer app formula
There is little doubt that a catchy name can be useful, but first, you need to check your app or concept against this checklist of what makes the best apps in the business.
Aim to be the best at one thing – trying to cram loads of features into one app doesn’t work, having one simple concept that your app does better than all others is the key. You can diversify later, but first be the best at something. Take Fabulous Bingo, for example, they first made sure that they had fine-tuned their bingo games to create the best possible experience for players. It was only after doing so that they built on their success by offering other casino games and have never looked back. Or, consider the example of early Google: Back when they introduced their immensely successful web search algorithm, Google published their philosophy, which included the point “It’s best to do one thing really, really well.” Although the company’s moved on to expand, this approach can be seen in its most successful products, including Google Maps and Gmail.
Your audience is key – your app should offer value to a specific audience by giving them what they want or solving their particular problem. You can appeal to the wider audience later, but first, find a dedicated following that needs your app. Generally, apps come about as passion projects, in which case you’ll have a good understanding of the audience, as they’re just like you, but sometimes it is necessary to carry out some research to really focus on meeting their needs.
It also must work well – it’s probably taken for granted by us all, but it’s important for apps to work just like they should and although we might get annoyed at ads or in-app purchases, they don’t crash on us. If you create something that is prone to crashing, get back to the drawing board because today’s market will not like it at all. Once you have a stable app, it’s time to make it fast, as a rapid app that gets people what they want faster is a winning app. Work on your menus and content to make every process as snappy as can be.
Refine, refine, refine – it’s a hugely competitive market out there, so the more polished and refined your app is the better chance it has against the competition. If you have a ground-breaking new innovation that the app world has never seen before, congratulations, but refine that creation as the competition is coming. Refining should encompass all areas of the app, from the sound it makes when you tap the menu through to the animations experienced when you exit the app, everything should be enhanced to add value.
A great app is a pleasure to use because it ticks all the boxes above by being focused, reliable, fast and intuitive for the user. If your app doesn’t have those qualities don’t be surprised if you’re not joining the app mogul list.