Do you really want to build an iPhone app?
This might sound like a daft question at first. But I want to make sure that you have fully explored your target audience and considered whether it would be more suitable to launch an app on the Blackberry or Android platform.
If you have your mind set on an iPhone app, then I urge you to also consider what happens when it is a success? Yes, I am assuming that your iPhone application will be a success because they are growing so rapidly. Will the agency you use be able to launch a similar app on the other platforms so as not to alienate consumers? Will you choose to combine your iPhone app with perhaps a mobile website that would allow all other smartphone users to access your content?
Search out the iPhone apps you like!
I have managed many website and iPhone application projects and one of the mistakes I regularly come across is managers that are too reliant on the designers. I suggest that as part of your initial brief you really look into all the different types of iPhone apps that are within your market. If there are no iPhone apps then simply look at what you like. Consider why one flows better than another, what elements frustrate you and what ideas could you use to build your iPhone app.
Understanding Apple Connect for your iPhone Application
Apple Connect is a website used by your iPhone application developer. It is basically a website that holds the details of your app and is used to send your iPhone app binary code to Apple for them to approve… if you are lucky (I’ll get to that in a moment)
It is also the place where everything you see on iTunes is managed. So those screen shots you see for each app, you guessed it, they are uploaded through connect. You may want to go through connect with your iPhone app developer just to get used to what you can and cannot do.
Pricing your iPhone Application
Apple operates a tiered pricing structure so all you have to do is select a pricing tier from 1-10 to set your price around the world i.e if it is 59p in the UK then it will automatically be 99 cents in the US. Again, you can access this with your iPhone developer by visiting Apple Connect.
Planning your iPhone app layout
Bespoke apps will be much less expensive if you do the ground work. By this I mean work out exactly what you want and create a ‘work flow’ diagram. Basically start with a blank picture of an iPhone and sketch in your iPhone app splash screen and homepage. Work out what buttons will go along the bottom of your iPhone app to create the menu – you can have five buttons.
Next, using lots of blank iPhone images, create a hierarchical structure of your iPhone application. By doing this, you can literally show your designer how you want it all to work i.e. click here and it shows this screen or searches this item. Don’t worry too much about whether it is technically possible as your iPhone app designer will undoubtedly suggest some options for improvement. Once the iPhone app workflow is complete then you and your designer know exactly how the app should work.
Bespoke iPhone Apps V’s Online App Builders
Only about 12 months ago, if you wanted to build an iPhone app then you had to look for a bespoke answer. Today things are rapidly changing and there are a number of US based companies and one UK company offering a build your app online service.
The fundamental difference between bespoke iPhone application development and online app builders is cost and flexibility. So it all comes down to ‘what do you want your iPhone app to do?’ and how much do you want to pay?
With bespoke iPhone applications you really can create just about anything and there are companies or individuals very skilled in this area. So ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. Is it brand building through clever entertainment or are you trying to get content to your customers in order to a) interact with them and build your brand or b) help them through to the final purchase of your product or service?
Think back a few years to the use of flash in website design. I was lucky enough to be part of a website pitch to Disney and guess what; we went over the top with flash. Incidentally we won the contract, however soon there were full flash websites everywhere. Today it is very much a different story, for most websites the number one objective is to get content across quickly and efficiently and in a manner that customers are used to, so for example, having the menu on the top or the left hand side of your webpage. Flash is now used predominantly in other areas to add to the overall user experience.
So for what might be classed as ‘utility iPhone apps’ stick to the rules and always think about the content you are trying to deliver.
Online iPhone App Builder
The main thing that you need to consider when using an online app builder is will it deliver what your customer needs? Can an online iPhone app builder offer your customer everything that they require without you having to spend anywhere between 3000 and 20000 plus, building a bespoke iPhone application!
Most online app builders allow you try them for free for either a set time or until you publish your app.
iPhone App Download Restraints
Your iPhone application needs to be less than 10mb’s if you want users to be able to download it from their phone via a standard connection i.e. not wi-fi.
If you are developing an iPhone game application of sorts then you are likely to go over this limit, however for an iPhone business application, then ideally try to keep it under 10mb’s
If you read only one piece of text in this whole document, make sure you read this next part which looks at iPhone app content and the importance it has in getting your iPhone application signed off by Apple.
When you set about building your iPhone application the first thing you need to realise is that content is vital. Let’s take entertainment and games out of the equation for a moment because by their very nature they are highly likely to get signed off. So let’s concentrate on building a utility or business iPhone application.
Whatever you do, don’t build it just because everyone else is. Build it with your customer in mind. Do your customers already view your products online, are they interested in your news, do they visit your website to access content that is not available elsewhere, can you help your customers with a problem, do you want to find out what your customers think? These are just some of the questions you should consider when building your iPhone application.
Like any marketing or communication tool…building an iPhone application only works as an entertainment gimmick on rare occasions. For 99% of us, it has to serve a real purpose.
What we do know however is that your customers want information, news, products or promotions in the palm of their hand and with an iPhone app you have the perfect marketing tool from them to access your content and interact with your company.
The Cost to build an iPhone Application
A bespoke app can cost anywhere from 3000 to 20000 upwards. The price of bespoke iPhone application development is decreasing as more and more as iPhone application developers enter the market.
Building an iPhone app online costs anywhere from between $10 -$100 per month rental in the US an around 45 per month in the UK.
Submitting your iPhone App
When your iPhone app is submitted to Apple for approval you can expect to hear whether it has been approved or rejected after 1 or 2 weeks. If it has been rejected than Apple will give you some indication as to what needs to be improved before you can submit your app again.
You will have to work with your developer to asses and fix the problem.
I hope that you find some of the information useful and good luck.
James Scott is a Markerting Director within the iPhone Development market. For More information on iPhone Development visit http://www.mvapphub.co.uk/blog/