A few days ago, Seth Porges put up an interesting post on Mashable: 8 Things You Should Know Before Building a Mobile App. While, as the name implies, Seth’s post focused on native apps, it got me thinking – how does his 8 questions relate to creating an HTML5 app? So here goes...
1. What does it cost to make an app?
Overall, with HTML5 the costs will be broadly similar to a native app. However, you may find your people costs come down as it’s generally easier to find HTML developers than those for native apps. Plus, the resulting application will work across multiple devices – with some customisation – which could bring your total development costs down further. I wrote a more in-depth summary of my opinions in a blog post a few weeks ago.
2. What should you charge for your app?
It is certainly more difficult to charge for an HTML5 app. But then again, go ask most Android developers whether they’re seeing revenues from their efforts (alternatively, take a look at this article). As with Android, the solution will probably involve either an ad-supported or freemium model.
3. When will you get paid?
This very much depends on the model you adopt (see above) but you probably don’t want to hold your breath if you expect to be paid just for download.
4. How do you write your iTunes description?
The simple, flippant answer is: you don’t. But this, of course raises a wider issue of how you get your app in front of people. There are now a burgeoning number of app stores such as Intel’s AppUp Center, ZeeWe and OpenAppMkt among others. But certainly, you’ll need to give careful consideration to how you market your app and create the necessary buzz and recommendations. The upside of course is that you won’t have to give 30% of your revenues to Apple or demand that users jailbreak their phones.
5. What’s the best way to beta test?
The good news here is that pretty much anyone with a browser can test your app. All you need to do is make it available to them. If you don’t have a test team on hand then there are numerous companies online who will test your mobile sites across numerous devices for relatively small fees. As I haven’t used any of these online services I can’t recommend any but if you have a favourite do let us know in the comments.
6. What happens when you get featured on iTunes?
Well, again, you won’t. Although you may get featured if you go to one of the HTML5 app stores listed above. Of course the real question here is about scale – if Lady Gaga tweets about your app, will you be able to cope? So it pays to ensure you’re hosted somewhere that will deal with hundreds, thousands or millions of downloads. A cloud solution such as Azure or Amazon should be part of your launch plans.
7. How do you get press?
Fortunately, just now, simply developing in HTML5 has a certain newsworthy aspect about it. You’re already a bigger fish in a smaller sea. It won’t last forever of course, but now is the time to strike while the iron’s hot.
8. How do you avoid the spam?
This is probably not an issue you’ll face just yet. Spammers are far more focused on IOS developers.
So those are my eight. How about you? If you’ve built an HTML5 app, what do you wish you knew back then that you know now?