3 Secrets To iPhone OS App Success

Matthew Campbell, April 13th

Who else wants to see their app become the next huge success story of the year? Me Too! As I meet some of the most successful developers over and over again it is becoming clear that there are three things that you must do to push your app to the next level.

Most of you are technology enthusiasts – you love things like programming, config files and maybe even hacking. There is a certain mindset that comes with being a tech superstar that you use to master computer systems. This ability and mindset really positions you to get your creations onto the App Store.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this and I know that I fall into the same camp. It is just that this is on one part of what you need to make a really successful app. If you are missing the other two ingredients then you are really shortchanging your app.

So the three secrets that I have found successful developers are using over and over again are: marketing, design and technology. Many developers have separate people who are responsible for each of these tasks and each are superstars in their field. More on these…

So most of you already know the technology or you know how to learn it. To master iPhone, and of course iPad, development you must know how to program. You also need a grasp of Apple’s design patterns and sensibilities. Furthermore, you should know (or be interested in) related technologies like web services and information technology in general.

Readers of this blog will know that we offer plenty of resources here that will help you with this secret: we have hundreds of posts, weekly, tips, an eBook and an eCourse that will get you started. You can get info about this at the top of this website.

Technology, while exciting and important is only the first step…

Prettiness is a requirement for iPhone OS apps. Users expect much more than something that “just works” – it really needs to be beautiful.

There are two related aspects of design for software: the high level idea of the app and the graphical design itself. A great designer should be able to sketch out every screen in your app, how it should behave and what it should look like. An artist can create the image files you will need to compose the app.

You know a great design when you see it. You probably also realize that creating a great design is a full time job that requires a special creative person (which is not likely to also be the technology person).

Ok, so this is the one that inspired this blog post and by marketing I also need the overall strategy of your business (big picture, revenue model, future plans). Many of you may have read Brook Lenox’s guest post he wrote for this blog called 10 iPhone App Marketing Mistakes to Avoid. Well just now I finished reading his new eBook that will be coming out in a week or two and it is really good. I will let you know when this new eBook is available.

In the meantime, keep in mind that just throwing your app in with the crowd of 170,000 other apps at $.99 is probably not going to make you rich. Someone needs to analyze the different options you have to monetize your work and it probably will not be the obvious approach. Many more options exist including advertising, cross-promotion, up-selling and who knows what else.

You will also need to do a lot of work to get your app noticed: press releases, social networking, advertising on networks like AdMob. This stuff is time consuming (and can actually become expensive if not done well). As you think about this you may want to team up or hire someone like Brook. There are also advertising firms you can do a joint venture with (either for a price or a share of your profit).

Many of us are do-it-yourselfers and would love to be able to work these three areas ourselves. This is not impossible, but it is unlikely that you will be able to truly leverage your core skills and time effectively on your own. Most likely you will need at least one partner to really push your app business to a huge success story.

Here is what you need to think about doing: starting networking using the ancient technology of face to face meeting. Go to meetups, conferences while keeping in mind the type of person you would like to meet and eventually team up with. Have a good idea of what one or two areas you are strong in and who you need on your team to complement your skill set. Be prepared to offer them an equity position in your enterprise (or even to be come a partner).

Nice article, Matt. I agree that it’s important to see and act in other areas of the business aside from the Technology part.

I’ve been taking many different approaches on my path of developing apps, but it really all boils down to Design, Development, and Marketing. And while it takes more time to develop an app on your own, it is possible.

It’s always a matter of time, some people are definitely going to benefit from a collaboration, others will take their time to develop their apps on their own.

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