So you have an idea, great! But at this point, even if your idea is amazing, nothing separates you from the billions of other people out there who also have a GREAT idea. Ideas sadly are easy to come across, it’s execution where true success becomes attainable. So how do you go from an idea, either yours or someone else’s, to an actual profitable product. The answer lies just below.
Step 1 – Create a concrete idea
It is very common that people who have an idea don’t necessarily have something that they can do anything with. For example, a persons idea may be: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could share pictures with a whole bunch of people at the same time.” This is an awesome idea, but with just this line, you’re a far cry from Instagram. So what needs to be done, is the idea needs to be actually thought out in terms of, what exactly do we want this concept to achieve, and how?
So for example, the idea is: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could share pictures with a whole bunch of people at the same time.” Now try and answer these questions:
Why? – Why is this idea a necessary need?
People love sharing pictures, but they always have to send pictures to friends, or invite them over to watch a slideshow. Often times, people just don’t have the time to do this, and their friends never get to share in this experience.
How? – How do you hope to satisfy this need?
We will allow the most simple way to post images using an app, and allow friends and family, and potentially anyone else who wants to view these images to view them using the app.
What? – What will you do to satisfy the need?
It will be a social networking application. Users will be able to post images using their account. When users like their image, they can in an easy way say that they like the image and leave a comment if they would like. You can invite friends to view your images, or you can make the images public so that everyone can view them.
Those few lines above are now a concrete idea.
Step 2 – Create your plan of attack
How are you going to take this from an idea to an application/website? Here is where decide things such as: Will I develop this myself, or will I hire someone else to do so for me? Will I hire someone overseas, or do I want to work with someone here? How much do we want to spend on this? Should we try and get investors, or some sort of funding, or should we try to do this out of pocket? (You should probably go with funding btw) Should we make this application run on all platforms? Should we hire different developers for different areas, or should we hire one developer who can do it all? How much do we WANT to spend on this?
This is when things start to get serious! Now you’re going from just an idea, to actual work. Most people will stop by this step if they’re not serious, especially as they start to do research on the cost of development.
Step 3 – Simplify the idea
“It’s easier to do 2 things great, than it is to do 20 things good.”
What does that mean? Well, put simply, if you try and create a product with 20 premier features, you’re almost bound to have an extremely buggy app, with poor user experience on the first go around. But if you just have a very small amount of features, you can focus on these, and knock ’em out the park. So you have to simplify the idea. Find out what your app’s nitch is, and then try to focus only on that.
For example, back to our Instagram example. Maybe you want to allow users to post videos, and audio, and make a lot of edits to their images. And then you want people to be able to save certain images as favorites, and have facial recognition to be able to tell if any of your Instagram friends are in the image, etc, etc, etc.
Now that may sound awesome, but if you try and do all that, you’ll spend a lot of money and time on a product that you don’t even know if it’s going to do well or not. Save those features for later when your product is very popular, and you can implement them one at a time. But for now, just focus on posting images, commenting, and liking those images.
Step 4 – Wireframes, Blueprints & Mockups
You’re probably very anxious to start developing this thing as soon as you get a developer. But you want to hold off on that and get some wireframes and mockups first. Wireframes basically are the skeleton of the application. Where will buttons, text boxes, labels, icons, images be placed etc. Wireframes typically are in greyscale because you still haven’t decided on all you want graphically. But a wireframe will give you what the overall product layout will be. After you do the wireframes, you draw out a blueprint. This blueprint contains everything that has to do with the User Experience. Explaining what each button does, and how all screens work together. Here’s a sample of a beautiful blueprint from fueled.com.
After you’ve done the Blueprint, you do the mockups. The mockups are the images of the way different screens will actually look within the application. By the end of the mockups, basically you know exactly what the app will look like. Here’s another example from fueled.com.
Elevatr app by Fueled Mockups.
Once you have the mockups you’re ready to develop right? Almost, but no. Now you need to polish the application. Polishing the application is the final touch that only some designers/developers will do. Here we perfect the design, and make sure that it contains all the animations, and transitions perfectly as desired. This is the step that people who truly value their craft will take. This is the step that will take your app from, ‘ooh’, to ‘aaaaahhhh’, and take you from the path of common men, to the roads of kings. From a good app of our time, to a product of legend. Yes, this is the step of all steps!
Honestly though, this is important, because it puts you right above the competition, because most people don’t do this. Check out this video to see how fueled does it. http://vimeo.com/60231954
Step 5 – Develop it
Now, develop the application. You’ve got everything decided, now you simply implement. Either do this yourself, or get someone else, but you should have already decided that by now.
Step 6 – Test and Make revisions
Great apps have been thoroughly tested. So make sure that you test as much as possible, and with as many people as possible. Give it to old people, young people, programmers, artists, fast food workers, bank tellers, CEO’s. Everyone will use your app, so everyone needs to test it to make sure that it’s good. Keep making revisions and testing until you have a GREAT product.
Step 7 – Market and Ship
After all that hard work, now comes the time you’ve been waiting for. Ship that beast! Push it to whatever stores it needs to go to. Now notice though, I put market first. That’s because you should start getting the word out there before the product is shipped. That’s because you want people to be kind of expecting it, that way you won’t lose momentum once it’s live. There’s a ton of ways to market your product, look here for some advice.
And viola, you have now taken your product from nothing, to something!