I recently just published my first app, Don't Forget It.  The purpose of the app is to be able to quickly log all of those little tasks that come up throughout the day, picking up your prescription, calling a friend on the way home from work, things like that.  It came to me out of necessity.  I have a terrible memory and I have to do something about it.  It was an amazing process to go from a blank program to a fully working app but I could have made the last six months a little easier if I kept these things in mind.

1. It will never be perfect

It seemed that when I started the app, I had a very clearly defined goal of what I wanted the app to do.  As I continued writing it, I kept thinking of new features to add.  Some of the ideas were better than others but I was starting to lose the main focus of the app: log those tasks QUICKLY.  So I had to pick and choose which features to keep and which to get rid of.  But the real trouble lies underneath.  I am a team of one so with every feature that gets added, there is added time for implementation, testing, debugging, more testing, and so on.  I had to focus on that MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and get the app out the door.  There will be plenty of time to add the features later.  Having an app in the app store, especially the first one, is already a huge win.

2. Test test test

I almost published the app a month ahead of the actual date and that would have been a horrible thing.  I was antsy.  I just wanted to get it done already.  Late nights and early morning programming sessions were starting to wear on me and I was in a hurry.  But lucky for me, I am a little too much of a perfectionist.  I tested the app on my own phone for about two weeks every day before I even gave it to a friend to test.  And it was good that I did.  Software these days is held to an incredibly high standard.  How many times have you used an app or webpage, found one unresponsive feature, or something that just didn't work and said "I'm not coming back".  I sure have.  Take time to test.

3. You need some graphics

For some reason I forgot that once the app was ready to publish, I'd still need promotional material.  A few images at a bare minimum.  It's quick and easy but before you get blindsided by anything, make sure you have these ready to when you publish your app to the Google Play store.

  • At least five screen shots
  • Hi-res icon: 512 x 512, 32-bit PNG (with alpha)
  • Feature Graphic: 1024 wide x 500 high, JPG or 24-bit PNG (no alpha)
  • Promo Graphic: 180 wide x 120 high, JPG or 24-bit PNG (no alpha)
  • TV Banner: 1280 wide x 720 high, JPG or 24-bit PNG (no alpha)

And if you can do it, a little promo video is a great idea as well.

4. It's not as hard as it sounds

Honestly, it's not.  Persistence is the key.  Just don't give up.  Yes, there are plenty of apps in the app store.  Yes, there are a lot of scary statistics telling you odds of being the next Facebook are pretty low.  But you miss 100% of the shots you don't take (Wayne Gretzky).  You also don't make 100% of the shots you take.  More shots, more chances.  And just the feeling of having something in the world that anybody, anywhere can see is an amazing feeling.

5. Tell Everyone you know

I'm not big on self promotion.  In fact, I hate it.  But a little encouragement can go a long way.  It was about two weeks before I made a Facebook post about my app but when I did, the results were amazing.  Not amazing in the sense that it put Don't Forget It on the map, but amazing in the sense that a lot of my friends were happy for me.  They downloaded my app, gave me feedback, and just made me feel like waking up at 5 in the morning to program before work was kind of worth it. 
 
It's a long ride but well worth it.  I hope this serves as a little encouragement for someone looking to get into app development, or maybe needs a kick in the butt to finish theirs.  Good luck!

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