I Have an Idea for An App: How To Get Started? – A Guide For Beginners

Aleksandra Rajczyk

Ideas are worth only as much as their successful execution. That’s why if you have an idea for an app, you shouldn’t just let it sit in the corner of your brain. Give it a go! Here you’ll find a comprehensive step-by-step guide on what to do with an app idea to make it successful. 

Is developing an app idea worth your time? It’s definitely a booming market: the number of smartphone users worldwide has reached nearly 4 billion in 2019. The common saying “there’s an app for that” has been used by netizens as a joke but it only because it rings true. Mobile and web apps have become part of our daily lives. How do come up with an app idea? Start looking around. You’re surrounded by people with various problems, interests, and needs. Even simple app ideas can have a great impact on their day to day rituals. 

Below you will find a few aspects you will have to consider once you decide to develop your app idea. It’ll help you come up with a mobile app business plan or just sort out your thoughts. Either way, keep an open mind and think critically about what you have to offer. 

I have an idea for an app: where do I start?

The answer to how to start an app is simple: with a sheet of paper and something to write! If you have an idea for an app, write down what the app is supposed to do. Draw sketches of the screens you have in mind: this is your first iteration of the user interface. Make notes on what inspired your app idea in the first place – it’ll help you during the development process. You can later put those sketches and writing into a presentation for potential business partners.

If you have trouble with turning your app idea into visuals and sentences, make an inspiration board – doesn’t matter if it’s online or offline. It’s just to help you put your thoughts into place and gain perspective.

How to develop an app idea?

Every guide on how to start an app should be prefaced with two questions:

  1. What kind of problem your app idea is solving?
  2. Who are the people who have that kind of problem?

The first question shows you what’s your app’s purpose. The second defines your target audience – probably the most important factor in developing your app idea. If you wonder how to make a successful app, make sure it’s made for real people with real needs. 

You can hire a professional research company to prepare info about your target audience and potential user base: how old are they, what’s their gender identity, where do they live, what do they do for a living, do they prefer iOS over Android, etc. You can also conduct your own research by creating online surveys and sending them to groups of people you’d like to pursue with your app idea. Run interviews with people in the business and make appearances during relevant events – every opportunity to get an insight on your app idea is valuable. Just remember to keep the key features a secret! 

Once you know who’s in your target group, develop your app idea even further by thinking of the functionalities it should have: user’s profile, paying options, the “forgot my password” option, access to the user’s camera, chat window, etc. Make a list of functionalities and decide which ones are absolutely necessary and which ones would be a nice touch, but don’t define the app’s usability in the long run. 

Conduct the market research for your app idea

What to do with an app idea once you’ve put down the basics like purpose, target group, and functionalities? Chances are that you share the thought of “I have an idea for an app” with a lot of people. Now is the time to research the competition. Don’t get discouraged if there’s already an app idea similar to yours on the market! The more people with the same problem, the more potential customers. People in general love to have a variety of options. Competition analysis can be done by an outside company but you can get the most basic information by asking the right questions and doing some digging on your own. 

A few things should you take into consideration while doing market research on your app idea:

  1. if there are any apps similar to yours on the market and if so, how many of them,
  2. how are they similar to each other in terms of design, functionalities, price point,
  3. in which app stores they’re present and if they have dedicated web pages and social media accounts,
  4. how many downloads do they have,
  5. what’s the user’s rating,
  6. what the users write in their reviews,
  7. if the apps have been mentioned in the mass media, 
  8. how the apps make money (ads, in-app purchases, subscriptions, selling data, etc.).

With that information in hand, you can position your app idea on the market with more precision. It’s also a great opportunity to weigh-in the pros and cons of your app idea. See where the existing apps are failing and adjust your app idea where needed. This will make your final product more attractive to the users. 

Analyze your app idea’s market fit

Now that you’ve analyzed your competition, you can look into how your app idea fits into the market. Be critical of it because it’s going to be the basis of your monetization strategy. Having the right market fit for an app idea means you have succeeded in defining your apps’ purpose and your target audience. 

When looking at your app idea market fit, you have to look for touchpoints to provide your users with solutions. That is the point where you should create your user’s persona. It’s a detailed dossier about your target audience. A persona should combine all the characteristics of your ‘ideal’ user. Don’t hesitate to be specific: give your persona a name, age, job position, quirks. It may seem that you’re generalizing a huge group of people but having a user persona will become your cornerstone when you start the development process. You can create more than one persona, however, try not to appeal to every single person on planet Earth – solutions created with everyone in mind often benefit no one in the long run. 

Look at your app idea and ask yourself what is it:

  1. A completely new way of solving an old problem?
  2. An answer to a new problem caused by the changes in lifestyle?
  3. A completely new project?

Once you have defined the user persona for your app idea, look into the lifestyle of the persona, and see if there are points in their life where your app fulfills their needs. This will be very helpful during promotion and marketing campaigns.

Web and mobile app ideas: choose a platform

You probably already know that not all apps are created equal. Some mobile apps are designed for specific devices. The most common division in the app idea development is iOS and Android. You can create an app that works for both, but is it necessary? 

If your app idea benefits users who use exclusively Apple products, stick to iOS development based on Swift. An app created in this programming language will work seamlessly with other iOS apps and provide a great user experience.

Android app ideas work on a variety of devices. This could potentially expand your target audience. They’re based on Java – one of the most popular programming languages, so finding a great development team will be a piece of cake. 

Then of course are hybrid apps that work across all devices and platforms. Usually, they take more time and money to develop, although that depends mostly on the complexity of your app idea. Weigh in your options and analyze your user persona in depth before committing to one platform.  

Read also: Top 5 Successful Hybrid App Examples

Design a prototype of your app idea

Making a prototype of your basic app idea takes you one step closer to bringing an idea to life. A prototype is a model of your final product. It’s something that you can show to developers and investors to present how the app is going to look like. 

Wonder what an app idea prototype should be like? Consider the following:

  • concept description with sketches of the app screens that go through the user experience from the moment of downloading the app onto the device;
  • detailed PowerPoint or Keynote presentation;
  • animated video;
  • interactive screenshots.

That is the point of your app idea development where you should consider hiring a designer. Attractive visuals can get your app idea further than you’d think!

Find partners and co-founders for your app idea

Every great idea has funding needs. Unfortunately, you can’t approach an investor with a simple “I have an idea for an app” and expect to be showered with money. What you can do is express your need for cash as an investment opportunity. 

When looking for investors, show what amount of money you have already spent on your app idea and how much more do you need. Being brief about the amount won’t get you anywhere. Investors want you to be specific. Show them what the money will provide for your app idea development. Name the expenses and estimations. 

You should prepare a revenue model, meaning how your app idea will make money. Some of the ways to profit off of your app idea are as follows:

  • subscription fee;
  • paid premium services;
  • ad placement;
  • a commission per order;
  • charging collaborators;
  • generating revenue for other companies;
  • data trading.

Try to show the investors what’s in it for them. Explain your goals and back them up with numbers. You should be able to estimate how many customers you want to have in 3 months and in a year. Define your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and ROI (Return Of Investment) that will show your desire for growth. 

If you’re serious about looking for investors, you should learn the basics of how to pitch an app idea. A pitch should include: 

  • an introduction of your project, your team, and yourself as well; 
  • specification of the problem you’re addressing with your app idea;
  • solutions to the problem that your app idea brings;
  • product introduction with basic features explained via prototype;
  • the size of the market;
  • business model;
  • marketing strategy;
  • the estimated cost of the development process;
  • the strongest points of your app idea;
  • your contact information.

In the ideal world, you’d have all the time you need to show how special your idea for an app is. The reality is that often you’ll have very limited time-space to shine. Practice makes perfect, so make sure you know your pitch by heart. Try to present your product in 5 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 seconds – yes, it is possible! 

Build an MVP of your app idea

Oftentimes MVP gets confused with a prototype. It’s an easy mistake to make, especially if you have an idea for an app and none of the technical background. Don’t worry about it! 

Here’s the difference: a prototype is a model of your app idea that shows the basics of how it’s going to work. It’s a tool for internal communication with your team and investors. Your target audience will probably never see it. 

MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is what you give to the customers at the beginning stage of your app. It’s the bare minimum, the initial version. MVP helps you unpack your app idea into its most basic functionality. Finally, MVP gives you an opportunity to get feedback from the users. This is important because you can see the real potential of the features you have included in your app and decide if you want to add more or stick to the basics. 

That is also the stage where you’re going to need software developers. If you’d like to know more about how MVP can impact your app idea, check out our previous blog post: [link what is an MVP…]

App idea development: outsource development or hire an in-house team?

Now you’re going from the conceptual work to the nitty-gritty. Finding a software development team for your app idea is not an easy task. Consider the pros and cons of each of the solutions. 

The main advantages of outsourcing a software development team for your app:

  • access to the best global talent and expertise;
  • adding team members quickly which improves the flexibility of the process;
  • reduced cost of hiring, office space, equipment, etc.

On the other hand, having an in-house team is attractive because:

  • your team has a deep understanding of your app idea;
  • quick communication;
  • easy workflow without worrying about timezones.

You should also take into consideration what technologies the software house specializes in and have a look at their portfolio – chances are they’ve already worked on an app idea similar to yours.

For detailed information about the benefits and pitfalls of hiring a team in-house read our related article:

Test the app idea

No app should be released into the world without testing. However, this step is often neglected in favor of the quick implementation of the app. Skipping testing is also considered a smart way of cutting costs. Don’t fall for it! Launching an app in app stores without testing can cause more expenses than the testing process itself. 

What is more, a skilled Quality Assistant can spot a potential problem before it occurs. That means fewer future problems for the customer service department and better user ratings. 

ASO – your app idea searchability

How to persuade users to download your app? First, they have to know about it. Efficient app listing makes reaching your target audience easier. 

ASO (App Store Optimization) helps you to get downloads without additional spending on advertising. To achieve a good ASO, you need to take care of your app outside features: the name, icon design, and description. Then you can find relevant keywords that will be the basis of your ASO. Learn more about the importance of headers and sub descriptions – these are often the selling points. The user (that may or may not match your user persona) will have a look at them and decide whether your app idea is something they were looking for or not. 

How to know if you have the right keywords for your app idea? Track them and use app A/B testing to check out how they perform. It’s a process that will help you reach your KPIs. 


Going from “I have an idea for an app” to an actual product is a complex process. It requires a lot of conceptualization work. The most important part is deciding what kind of problem your app is going to solve and who has that kind of problem. This is the information necessary for market research. It also shows you the competition in the market. Creating a user persona helps you further understand your target audience and their needs. That will be the key selling point while looking for investors and co-founders. Before meeting them, you should prepare a prototype and practice your pitch. Backup your app idea with real numbers and business goals. With the money in place, you can move on to find the right software development team and build an MVP. Once the app goes through the testing phase, you can work on the ASO and gather user feedback. Good luck!

BinarApps is a company with a holistic approach to app development. If you’d like to discuss your idea for an app with experts, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Learn all about mobile app development from our related articles:

Table of contents

Subscribe for weekly updates

    You may also be interested in...

    Let's bring your project to life

    Request a consultation