Steps To Take Before Your App Is Launched
In this section we outline the steps and business decisions you will need to take before you even write that first line of code or start your first wireframe.
As a motivational guru might say, ‘One does not plan to fail, one fails to plan’. It goes without saying that you’re going to need to make a good product – but there’s so much more.
Let’s assume you have a product that you feel performs its given role strongly and effectively, whether it’s a game or a utility.
Getting the app name right
Choose a memorable and appropriate name that gives app store window-shoppers an idea about what your app does.
Don’t cheat. Naming your app “Best Time Tracking App” or such like can get it rejected.
Check that the .com domain is available, as well as (at a minimum) the domain for your country and any target countries (such as .co.uk) you want to market it in (even if they just redirect to the .com site initially). If the name of the app is already taken by something unrelated to your app’s sector, you could consider using something like getexample.com or exampleapp.com instead of example.com.
Check if similarly named apps exist. App stores’ search engines will auto-complete as customers type, and they’re likely to visit competitors’ apps instead of yours.
Avoid trademarks. For example, having the word “candy” in your app’s name might get you sued! Similarly, avoid derivative names that borrow from popular titles. It may make you look like a low quality “knock off”.
Smaller names are generally better. Your app store listing will only show the first 25–33 characters, so a smaller name leaves a bit of room for extra detail.
Your app’s name needs to be easily pronounceable for voice search.
Some experts say that the name should rhyme, be an alliteration or be no more than three syllables in length. If it sounds natural when used as a verb (e.g. “I’ll Google you”), you could be onto a winner. If you’re truly stuck, have a play around with this or this.
Getting your business setup
You’re going to need a dedicated website to start generating hype before launch. Collecting email addresses of interested users is essential and will create a surge of downloads on launch and get it trending.
Unbounce (landing page experts) has published a range of decent templates for mobile app websites. Even if you don’t use one, they’re good for inspiration.
Use your blog to document the challenges you face – from designing your logo to tracking bugs. Create a resource for other app developers. Showcase your design inspiration and give away old icon sets.
If you have a website already, there are ways of prompting users to download your app (or at least to register their interest) if they visit with a mobile device. Only a small bit of code is required.
You’re going to need a press kit and a story – a special angle that makes your app or your team unique. Your press kit can just be a page on your website and should include;
- Background information on your company – i.e. who founded it, when and why. Company bios work well
- Your one sentence sales pitch
- FAQs, testimonials, clients/famous users, and awards
- High quality images – your logo on transparent background in a variety of sizes and pictures of the founders
- Contact info and links to press releases or other coverage
- Links to a video or screenshots of your app
- We liked Crowdbooster.com’s Press Kit and balsamiq’s use of “talking points” as examples
Preparing the app
iPhone vs Android first? Most businesses go with iOS first. Generally, it’s easier to develop for as there’s less devices to support. There are thousands of Android devices with different hardware capabilities (screen size and resolution, memory). Typically iPhone users are more willing to pay for “something that’s good” too. However this is something you’ll need to research for business reasons. If you can’t develop on both platforms, research your target demographics and find out what devices they most commonly use. (US figures)
Negative early reviews and bugs will kill off your app, so don’t launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Have a closed beta launch for early feedback.
Test the app extensively across a wide range of hardware and revisions of operating systems. Bugs that only appear on selective setups will cause negative reviews. Be strict about what devices and operating systems your app supports if this is not possible.
Read your competitors’ app store and external reviews to find out features that their users liked… and what they didn’t. Sometimes reviewers will have great feature suggestions.
Japan, China, Germany, Korea, France and Italy are some of the largest apps markets. If you’re going to get international users, don’t just translate… optimise the experience for each market. That includes support!
One size does not fit all. You’ll need to optimise for tablets, smartphones, iOS, Android and any other platforms.
Some journalists like being involved in a product before launch. It will help them feel some involvement and exclusivity – and that obviously helps with post-launch coverage.
Monitor developers’ conferences for Android and iOS for new operating system features or official flagship apps that can be integrated with your app.
Google and Apple like highlighting apps that use their newer features and will often promote them by giving them featured status on their stores.
Choosing your keywords
When you’re about to launch, you’ll need to define your “keywords”.
A good place to start is to see what words your competitors use in their full app names or frequently use in their descriptions.
Consult Google’s Keyword Tool to find the variations of keywords with the most searches, as well as suggestions for related keywords and synonyms. Brian Deane wrote a really good guide to keyword research. It happens to be for websites, but it’s appropriate for apps too. Remember that Google’s figures are based on web searches, not app store searches – but we reckon they’ll be a good indication.
Also remember that people are likely to search differently in different countries and on their mobiles as opposed to desktops. Demographics (age, gender, education level etc.) will also affect the words people use in their searches, so consider your app’s intended users.
Try your selected keywords on your app store to see the auto-complete suggestions on search. Try to avoid keywords where an already well-known app comes up as a suggestion.
Don’t aim for keywords that are too difficult. Look at how many search results your chosen keywords have. Look at how many downloads/reviews those results have because that’s what you’re going to need to beat. Read MobileDevHQ’s guide to this.
It’s better to rank for low volume search keywords than be invisible for competitive keywords. Keywords can be changed in updates as your app gets more downloads and reviews.
Keyword research needs to be an ongoing process. You can change keywords with your next app update if they turn out to be too competitive.
There are some purpose-built tools that make finding the best keywords easier such as: