I have noticed on a few developer forums like this one that there are a decent amount of people who are looking for guidance as to how best execute their ideas. Most often these “idea people” are berated by the hardcore developers in the forums, written off as little more than a symptom of the iPhone app store hype. While no doubt there are a decent amount of Trism or iShoot wannabes who give the rest of us a bad name, I am writing this post for those of you who think you have something good and are actually serious about getting your product developed and following through. While I am still working on my 1st app, and have no idea how it will do in the App Store, I can tell you that I sat on my idea for a good 6 months so I have a pretty good idea of how hard it is to get started and what the pitfalls are.
So I’ll just lay out the harsh reality: if you have zero programming background and little more than an idea of what you want to do the odds are you will have little luck finding a good developer, let alone making a decent iPhone application without spending way too much money and time. My advice if you want to execute your idea efficiently would be to first:
- Think through what the hell it is you want to create – I don’t mean in a half-ass way, I mean really walk through the usage scenarios and create mock-ups of what you want to create. I know this is painful if you don’t come from a programming or engineering background but a must do if you want to be taken seriously by developers
- Create full specifications of what you need – write down every single thing that you think you will need to be created. Developers are just developers, especially the ones you can afford, and if they could resolve the unknowns of your idea then why would they need you?
- Think about how much time, money, effort you are willing to put in to the project – odds are your project won’t be done in 1 week, so you need to make sure it is an idea you are comfortable working on and marketing once it is developed
- Learn what the iPhone SDK can and can’t do – this makes it much easier to know what to ask for and it also helps avoid your getting screwed by inexperienced or dishonest developers
Once you have spent the time to go through these steps you need to decide if you are looking for local or offshore developers. Offshore will be cheaper but the additional time it takes to create very thorough specs is significant. The budget question is an important one because odds are you will not find a developer partner who will work for equity alone in the US at least. See my post on finding the right developer here. Most important steps I followed before pulling the trigger on the idea were:
- Check the App Store thoroughly for precedents or competitors to your idea
- Check whether there are any companies or games that replicate your product on the web (for example in the flash game world)
- Think about pricing and what you would need to break even. If you are creating a niche product that will move 20-30 units a day odds are it does not pay to outsource development
Bottom line if you spend the time to walk through all of the design and planning yourself and can be bothered to learn the basics of the SDK you will be in a good position to know how to spot talented developers abroad. The best way to get developers to respect and want to work with you is to be precise and exact with your idea and your specs from the get go. If any developers want to chime in as to whether they agree / disagree or have anything to add please do!
Just found a great article about developing an iPhone app from scratch here. Includes some good resource links at the end of the article.