Succeeding as an App Developer

Apps have transformed the way we run our lives. It's not uncommon now for an individual to rely on apps for communicating with family and friends, keeping entertained and managing finances and businesses - all from our phones or laptops. To develop your own app is not for the fain-hearted. It takes courage, skill, hard work, and most importantly, perseverance.

While it's easy to get caught up in the idea of quitting your 9-5 and becoming the world's next Zuckerberg, it's important to let your passion drive you, but not set your expectations too high.

The Facts

• 60% of apps on the Apple Store have never been downloaded
• 70% of apps that are downloaded are deleted within 72 hours
• There are approximately 5 million mobile apps available for download on the market. That's a whole lot of competition.
• 72% of app users value customer reviews as much as personal recommendations.
• Only 1 in 10,000 apps will be financially successful.

With all of that being said, don't let these numbers discourage you. Instead, if you truly believe in your app, use these facts as motivators.

So, now you're probably wondering how to succeed?

1. Make Sure Your Product Meets Needs

Before you launch into building your own app, sit down and map out who your target audience is, and research the competition. It has been proven that apps that have a specific audience they target perform better, so it's important that you recognise who our customers are, how and when they buy, and what prices they're willing to pay. You ma have a great app idea, but if there's no demand, there will be no customers.

You should also always look for a gap in the market. If there are a large number of businesses with an app similar to yours, review how they operate and the areas where they can make improvements. Use their weaknesses to your advantage.

2. Be Adaptable

When you start the development process, there's no way of predicting the future market's demands. This can make staying relevant difficult for some, which is why it's important to be adaptable to your customer's needs. Listen to their feedback, good and bad, and adapt your app to suit their requests. Without your customers support, your app is nothing.

3. Don't be Afraid to Outsource

An apps usage can grow rapidly, which means that you could very quickly become too busy to build and run the whole business on your own. Stretching yourself to manage and develop all aspects of your app and business may not be in its best interest, and although hiring freelancers isn't always ideal or a long term solution, when you're limited on funds, it's a great temporary fix.

First, recognise our strengths and weaknesses. If there's an area of your app that you're not as confident in developing, it's time to consider hiring help. In-house workers come with a wage and commitment that may not be suitable for you, which is why outsourcing is a great alternative. Thanks to supply and demand, companies such as Fiverr and Freelancer make outsourcing work a simple process. You can post your own job listing and have freelancers bid on the job, or sort through the thousands of profiles on the sites to find a person that's suitable for the role. Freelance workers can be used for small tasks, such as creating a design for the logo, or ongoing for bigger jobs such as coding, depending on your needs.

4. Don't Overcharge

We understand you need to recoup the costs of developing the app. Although, while users will happily pay hundreds of dollars for software, the generally have a psychological aversion to splashing out similar amounts for apps. With so many free options on the market, a user's willingness to pay is based on the value they place on your app. For example, business apps are often seen as worthy investments whereas a mobile game may not be. User opinions are also often based on reviews and downloads. If your app is lacking both of those, their willingness to pay will lessen, which is why allowing free downloads can be beneficial.

However, even free apps can make money. The mobile game Clash of Clans has made around $5 billion USD since its release in 2012 simply through in-app purchases and advertising. Particularly in the initial stages of your app, where there are few downloads or reviews, in-app ads are likely to be more profitable than charging outright for the app. For web app developers, beware of ad blockers. In 2015, online businesses lost $22 billion in revenue due to ad blocking. A simple workaround for this is the use of a pop-up requesting that users pause their ad blocker on your app, or limiting access until the ad blocker is turned off.

Another viable alternative to overcharging outright is allowing for free trials or limited functionality and then offering paid upgrades in-app. Once a user has tested your program out, their willingness to pay is likely to increase if they decide it meets their needs.


Starting to develop an app can be daunting, particularly if you're not well prepared. Make sure you're aware of the hard truths, do your research and don't shy away from outsourcing when you truly need the extra help.

Want to find out how Digital Basis can help you on your journey? Contact us here.