Article in Startup, Marketing and Growth, App Review, iPhone categories.

Building a Successful Mobile App: the Case Study of Repeat Timer Pro

Building a mobile app is now a hot activity for young entrepreneurs. Repeat Timer Pro is an app that lets users set a repeating timer…

Building a mobile application is now the hot activity for young entrepreneurs. But as many have discovered, building a successful app is really, really hard. How can you build a product that separates itself from the 500,000 or so other products in the App Store? Fueled checked it with Artem Lapitski, the creator of Repeat Timer Pro, to get his insights on how to create the best mobile app possible.

Repeat Timer Pro is a mobile application that allows users to set a repeating timer for their activities. Users set it for a duration of time and then watch it count down as they complete the task. The idea is radically simple but, as Lapitski explains, no other mobile application was just  a simple timer: they were all attached to a more complex function like cardio training or cooking. Lapitski’s product was designed to appeal to mobile consumers who wanted a simple, aesthetic, repeating timer and so far the product has been a success.

Check out the key takeaways from the discussion, Lapitski’s own case study of Repeat Timer Pro, and select transcripts from the interview.  There might be plenty of information to help you build the next great mobile app.

The Key Takeaways for New App Developers

  • The best ideas will come from looking at your own life and thinking about what is missing. Don’t start out thinking about what other people need, think about what you need. Then see if others need the same thing. When you find one, chances are that is a great idea to work with for a new mobile app.
  • Only work on what you are passionate about. Commercial value is nice but you need to want to work on a particular project and see it through periods of adversity. If you can’t commit to the idea, don’t bother.
  • Simplicity is the most important thing when creating an app. Boil the design down to the most important functions in order to satisfy the maximum number of users, make your app easy to use, and eliminate excess costs. If you keep it simple, that will let you focus on beautiful design and core functionality, which are the most important keys to an app’s success.
  • When marketing your app, make sure you have a quality product first. Don’t ever start marketing an imperfect product. When it’s ready, use social media and promotions to create pre-launch buzz and reach out to reviews, blogs, and experts personally to maximize the chance that they will check out your app and encourage others to do the same.
  • At the end of the day, it’s about the product. Focus on creating the highest quality product that makes the most people happy. If you do that, you have a great chance to be successful.

Select Transcripts from the Interview

Question:How did you make Repeat Timer Pro as intuitive and easy to use as possible without sacrificing beautiful design or core functionality?
Artem: I focused on simplicity. A lot of the apps out there had the functionality I wanted, but they were bogged down by other features; specific niche things or bells and whistles. Those additions often make your app harder to use and clutter your design while increasing your costs. It’s better to focus on an aesthetic design built around the core set of functional features that 80-percent of your users will want.

Question: How did you choose the design of Repeat Timer Pro? How did you select a color palate, the contrast, and spacing?
Artem: I’m a designer so many of those choices are intuitive. It’s my job to find a pretty design that users will like. I often use the lime green color in many of my projects; it’s an aesthetic that I find appealing. I would add that if you are not a good designer, it’s better to find one than to design the app yourself. There are other places to cut costs than sacrificing design.
Question: Do you have any advice on the best way to choose a developer?
Artem:  Look for the best quality to cost ratio. I’d put quality first in that order: you want to find the best possible cost but never sacrifice any quality whatsoever. For Repeat Timer Pro, I used Elance to find my app developer. The winner was a team out of Russia that was cheaper than any US developer but had won an Apple Design Award. I had cheaper offers but they were the best value for the price.
Question: What are the best ways to get attention for and market an app before launching?
Artem: I recommend a mix of different strategies. First, make sure you are promoting a quality product; it’s never good to ask people to look at it or use it before you think it’s ready. When your app is ready to go, use social media to promote it and get followers. For Repeat Timer Pro, I offered every tenth follower a free copy of the app. I also reached out personally to reviewers and experts and asked them to look at my app, which helped me get some great reviews and publicity.

Question: What are some marketing methods you would avoid?
Artem: I did not experience a lot of success with non-targeted paid advertising, including Internet ads. It’s best to try to reach your specific target audience.

Question: Do you have some final takeaways for other mobile app entrepreneurs?
Artem: Yes, ignore commercial viability when you are starting out. Focus on what you are passionate about because you need to be able to commit and see it through to the end. Only create that app if you are behind it 100 percent and know you can create a quality product that is better than what is out there and enhances the marketplace.

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