How to create a successful app even if you don’t know how to code

It’s a myth to think that you need to be a programmer to develop an app-based business. Programming knowledge or experience can certainly help, but it’s not essential.

What is essential is to take a problem-solving, entrepreneurial approach.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of new apps launched every day. Most are downloaded a few times and never heard of again. So the first rule of app-based business is to take a lean start-up approach.  Sometimes this is known as fail fast, fail often. It means getting the product out to customers to test as a prototype as quickly and cheaply as possible, so that you can learn from their feedback and keep on adapting the product until it starts to really hit need and gain traction.

For apps, and indeed most businesses these days, traditional market research is too expensive and too slow. It is also ineffective. Why base your investment on what people tell you they will do, when with online tools you can see what they do.

With this in mind, here are several of the ways that you can create an app that makes money and never have to write a line of code.

Start with a prototype

Before you even think about finding someone to make your app, start by putting your idea on paper. Draw up the screens your user will go through and the user journey. There are prototyping tools, like marvelapp, available online to make this even easier for you.

Try to keep you initial idea simple. The more complicated your app is the more expensive it will be to develop. Also don’t leap ahead of your customers. If they like your basic idea, they will soon let you know what enhancements they would like.

Outsource if you need to

First off, check out no-code app-making platforms like appypie or bubble.  These are drag and drop platforms, accessible to people with no coding skills at all. These platforms have been used to build simple apps like restaurant booking or dating sites, to sophisticated apps like a freelancer marketplace and lift-sharing exchange.

If you need to hire a programmer, put together a clear brief and then agree key milestones and payment dates with them before they start. It might help to have someone on your core team who has some understanding of the different languages and databases.  You can find app developers on all the main freelancer marketplaces.

Depending on what the app needs to do, you may also want to hire for professional and high quality data engineering services. If your app relies on Big Data, machine learning or the Internet of Things, then this will be really helpful as they can give you the structure you need for a successful app.

Figure out the monetisation

There are several ways that you can make money from your app. How much you can make and how you can monetise it depends heavily on what type of app it is.

For example, many game apps use in-game ads to monetize. It is unlikely that you will make much money from ads for other types of apps however.

Then there are in-app purchases or upgrades. The way this works is that you offer your app as a free download. Then users can pay for ways to unlock certain features. This is a good way for users to test drive the app before committing to paying for it. If they feel it works well and that the upgrade can help they are likely to buy it.

Lastly, you can charge to download the app or even charge a monthly subscription fee to use it. This may work once the app has been downloaded a lot and has name recognition. It could take a while of using in-app purchases before you can jump right to a download charge.

The bottom line is that the app business is quite a lot like the music business. It’s not always clear which singles will hit the public mood at the right time, apps are just the same. So don’t be afraid to have lots of ideas, keep them simple to start with, give it 4 to 6 months and if you are not seeing growth in the user base, be prepared to ditch it and move on to the next idea.