Chances are you reading this article from your smartphone. Within the last few minutes, you may have used a number of apps, and right now several other apps are quietly working away in the background, making small but significant changes to the way you live your life.
In the last decade, apps have become an unimaginably huge part of our lives. As phones have developed, so has the number of applications we install and use. You will no doubt have dozens of them on your device, many of which you will interact with several times a day.
You're not alone in this. Close to three billion people have smartphones. That's a pretty substantial part of the world's population, and the number is moving up all the time. So, the potential market for apps is very significant. And these all need creators and developers, in growing numbers.
You'll need a mixture of skills and interests to break into this industry. Firstly, you'll need to be pretty technical. Being able to pick up new systems will be invaluable here. Second, you'll need creativity. Problem-solving is a large part of the job, and you'll need to be able to think around problems. You will also need to have a good grasp of business. There is a degree of marketing involved in taking your products to market and getting the user reach your app deserves.
If this sounds like you, then read on and start planning how you will become a part of one of the biggest growth industries on the planet.
Do you know your java from your C++? Becoming familiar with as many coding languages as possible will put you in good stead for a career as an app developer.
If you can, go and study at a college or university to get a full grounding in all aspects of the industry.
If you want to learn about your current job, there are many online courses. Often these can be completed at your own pace and may take just a few months.
There's no better to develop your skills than by doing the job. Get out there and find an appointment with a development company. Start as low as you need to; there is no experience that should be beneath you if you are to succeed.
When you're in a job, be it an internship or a junior post, keep your eyes open and take everything in. Try and understand how the business works and use the opportunity as a way of networking. You will undoubtedly need connections later in your career, so start collecting these now. You might not have as much as others to offer in terms of skill and experience starting out, but by demonstrating a willingness to work hard and get involved, you might impress the right people.
Practice in your spare time. Create mini projects just as development opportunities. You might stumble across a skill that will serve you well later down the line. By being open to trying anything, you will be able to hone your craft.
Keep a list of ideas. You may never get to make some of them as they might be terrible, but by getting in the habit of noting down every slight flash of inspiration, you'll eventually hit on things that are worth your while.
Listen to other people; find out what their app needs are. Listen to their bugbears about popular apps, and try and consider what you'd do differently. App development can be as about improving the user experience, as it is about creating the app itself.
Going It Alone
Leaving the safety of paid, regular employment is daunting, but many app developers who believe that they have winning ideas regularly take the plunge and start up on their own. For some, the appeal of reaping the rewards for your hard work and creativity outweigh the job security benefits.
If you do decide to set up your own business, you will need to make sure that you have a clear idea that you are passionate about. Your heart needs to be in the product you are designing, and you need to be able to put everything you have into it for it to succeed. You'll need to be able to communicate your ideas to others, to sell your app.
You will need to start small and then build. But plan with growth in mind to save yourself from problems in the long run.
Think about how you will make money from the app. Most people don't pay for apps unless they do something beneficial that they can't live without. The best way to monetize an application is to use advertising. Think of ways of including this into your design, in a way that serves you, the advertiser and the user.
Anything that you make will need to be tested thoroughly on all devices. Be sure and iron out any bugs in the code before releasing your product onto the app stores
Once you've got it out into the marketplace, you will need to market your product continually. Just having your app available for download will not automatically get you new users, and without users, you cannot bring in advertisers.
Keeping your users satisfied and returning to your app is also essential. Think about new features and ways to increase the amount of time a user is active on your service. Make it easier for your users to stay on the app than to close it and open another.
Respond quickly to problems that may arise with your app, and try and preempt the types of things that might happen as the app grows in popularity. If there is a social interaction element, you will need terms of service and a way of monitoring activity. You will need to ensure the resources you have in place can accommodate the volumes of users that you hope to achieve. And you need a strategy for growth and taking your project to the next level.