The Android platform has millions of users and is growing each day. With this growth so do the number of people that want to explore the platform by creating their own Android app. While a lot of those people are professional software developers, there are many that have little to no experience in developing and publishing software. This led me to write this series on creating your own Android app: “Creating your own Android app, from vision to reality”
In this series I will be covering the development cycle from concept to deployment. I Will give my recommendations on what steps you should undertake to get your app to the public.
Keep in mind this series is meant to be a helpful guide and not a set of instructions that should be followed exactly step by step. Try out what steps work best for you and I hope you will have a software development cycle that gives great results.
In this post I will be covering the publishing stage. If you have not yet read the previous chapters I advice to read them first:
Part 1 – Concept
Part 2 – Planning
Part 3 – Design
Part 4 – Development
Part 5 – Changes
I Hope you will enjoy reading the series as much as I have writing it.
Once your app is completed and you have finished your testing stage you are finally ready to deploy your app to the public. You should take your time to do some preparations before actually rolling out your app. You want the best quality app and so you must also give the best complete experience to your users, from the first time they read about your app to the moment they fire up your app and start using it.
Banner and screenshots
Most markets require you to include several screenshots from your app. Even if a market does not require screenshots but does give you the option of adding screenshots you should do so. They give the user a quick preview of your app and may persuade the user to download the app. Creating a screenshot is easy with the monitor tool in the Android SDK, it allows you to take a screenshot from a running emulator or device connected to your computer. Try to pick out good screens that represent your app. If you have an app that allows the user to enter data make sure to have some example data in your screenshot. And try to keep the screenshots relevant, only one screenshot from the preference screen will hardly persuade any one to download your app.
Adding a banner for your app on markets will enhance the user experience. It also allows the market to use the banner for promotion of your app. Creating a good banner is not an easy task, it takes skills, but with a few tips you might be able to produce a good result yourself. If you are not experienced with creating advertisements or banners I suggest to stick to your color scheme you created for your app. By using this color scheme your banners will fit the overall look of your app. You could also use the same fonts as your app to create an even more uniform look. Make sure to use big fonts for text in your banner, the banners can be re-sized by markets and they should always be readable for a user.
The last tip I want to give you is not to fill the banner with lot’s of graphics and text, most likely it will look chaotic and unprofessional.
I have recommended the following book in the design chapter before and will do so again here because it has good tips that can be used when creating banners and other promotion material.
Now that you have your app, banners and screenshots ready you can upload them to Android markets. These markets allows the user to download and install your app. It’s far better to use one of these markets than to redistribute the APK yourself. Some of these markets will be free while others may charge you a fee for their service. The biggest market is Google Play, their market app is installed on most Android devices and gives you a big audience for distribution. There are also some sites that craw other markets like Google Play and index the apps, for most of these sites adding your app will be done automatically and you will not need to undertake any steps. By uploading your app on other markets you can reach uses that do not have Google Play installed.
Here is a selection of a few good markets you might want to consider for distribution your app:
Google Play Store
Get the word out
Once your app is published and available to the public you might run into a common problem many developers that publish their first app will be confronted with; the fact that their app is not getting downloaded. They will complain about low install base and are asking why their great app is not the big hit they were hoping for.
The first thing you should remember is that not every app is the next Facebook or Angry birds. For every success there are many many failures or modernest results. Don’t expect every app to be a golden egg laying chicken, instead try to be realistic and aim for modest but good results.
But the biggest and most important rule you should remember is this: “Users will not download an app that they do not know exists.”
It’s just that simple, if users do not know of your app, they will not download it. The Android market is over flooded by apps and there are more coming every day. It’s getting harder and harder for new developers to get visibility though all of these apps. Some markets may have a new or just in section, but there are so many new apps added to the market that even those sections will give your app limited exposure. Even if you have a great app, without users knowing it exists it will not take off.
So how do you get the users to know your app exists? There are several steps you can undertake, some may cost you some money while some are free. You should try to find out what works best for your app. If you have a budget to spend on paid marketing, try to spread it out over several options, this way you don’t spend all your marketing budget in one place that might not have the results you are hoping for.
- Inform users by posting on forums, find what forums are used by your target audience. But do not spam these forums, check if it’s OK to promote your app.
- Submit your app for review on review sites. There are many sites that take free submits, and while it’s no guarantee your app will be reviewed it’s worth tying.
- Write press releases. Writing press releases is a great way of getting editors of sites to pickup on your releases, it also gives them a full story to print without much editing work. There are free way’s of publishing press releases and paid, pick what works best for you.
- Cross app promotion. If you already have multiple apps you might want to consider cross promoting these. It’s a low cost way of advertising your products and the users are already familiar with your brand.
- Banners and other advertisement. This is the most common used way to advertise an app. But with small budgets might not give you the wanted results.
- Submit your app for paid reviews. A Lot of big review sites accept paid reviews, instead of paying for an advertisement you get a review on the site.
- Pay per install. Some advertisement companies give the option to advertise on a pay per install base. The cost of one install is a bit high but might be a good way to get advertise paid apps.
Publishing your app is just the beginning of the next phase. That’s customer care. Make sure to stay in touch with your users. Read emails they send and try to resolve issues. If you need to you can write a FAQ on your website or as auto response to emails to your support address. Stay nice to the users and don’t forget that you are the expert, they may not have the technical skills you have.
Use all the feedback you get from the users to pinpoint your priorities and alter your road map when needed. From there you can start working on the next update and the whole development process will start again from the start.
That concluded this series on developing your own Android app. I Hope you enjoyed reading it and has given you some helpful tips.
Till next time, happy coding!