1. Have a strategy
An idea on its own is not a strategy. Just having an idea for an app does not make it a viable proposition. It is important to define what you are hoping to achieve.
2. Think about marketing
Consider what your marketing model will look like. You can’t just throw an app on the app store and hope it will be found – you need to get the word out. An app needs to be marketed like any product and any other customer-facing aspect of your business.
3. Make sure it solves a problem and delivers value
Create an app that solves a problem, not one that just regurgitates the content on your website. People like to use apps that serve a purpose, whether it is information-driven, helps with productivity or makes them laugh.
People need a reason to download an app, so when you create one ask yourself "What’s in it for the user?" and "Why would they want this app?" Think about the potential benefits.
4. Make sure your end user wants to come back for more
You need to give your customer a reason to keep returning to the app. Once installed, most of them are looked at once and never revisited. The content and features in your app need to be kept up-to-date and reusable.
5. Make it social
Allow the app to market itself by making it social. Build in benefits and features that inspire social sharing on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Remember, you are building a viral tool for a viral society.
6. Build in analytics
Make sure you integrate analytics so you can learn how, when and where your app is being used – and by what kind of audience. You can identify your best segments by demographic, personal interests, geography, style of usage and more.
7. Test and test again
Apps live and die by their ratings and the reviews they receive at the app store. I have read countless reviews for that complain about apps crashing, and then giving them only one star.
I highly recommend coordinating a closed beta-testing phase, so that the app is well tested and you can respond to insightful feedback before the launch, rather than afterwards, when it is too late.
8. Build in contingency for app store review and possible rejection
Build in contingency time for the review phase and the possibility of your app being rejected by the app store. The acceptance guidelines are constantly updated so don’t get caught out, or you might miss the big ‘go-live’ date.
Gary Gallagher is a mobile apps strategist and co-founder of Paper Bag, which provides mobile application development services for companies, governments and charities