A little over a year ago, out of frustration with being unable to find the perfect shade of orange lipstick for her skin tone, Gee Collins came up with an idea to launch the social beauty site Bellashoot.com. Her sister-in-law, Saje Sandhu, empathized with her frustration and jumped on board as co-founder to help create a centralized way to follow the latest trends and products in beauty.
Bellashoot is a West Hollywood-based social site for beauty enthusiasts to converge and share ideas on everything and anything beauty-related. The site also allows its members to organize their favorite products, tutorials, and tips, as well as follow their favorite beauty bloggers—think “one-stop shop for beauty”.
Now these entrepreneurs have decided to grow their digital landscape and add Bellashoot app. Since the process for developing an app is still fresh in their heads, I turned to these ladies to get a better understanding of what it takes to develop an app.
What made you decide to launch an app when you have the Bellashoot website?
In this day and age everyone prefers to have access to things they like while on-the-go and we wanted our Bellas to have the same experience. For that reason plus requests from our community, we created an app so they could have beauty advice and inspiration with them anytime, anywhere.
Were you knowledgeable about developing apps before you decided to create one?
We did not have any experience developing apps before we created this one. It was quite an exciting process and its always fun to learn new things, so our team was all hands on deck with it.
What is the process for developing an app? What do people need to consider before developing an app?
To develop an app you need a good idea, wireframes, a good team and good marketing strategy in place. The process involves outlining all the features and functions of the app, figuring out which platform to design for, designing the flow of screens, hiring a good developer, etc. Do your research and make sure there is a market and need for what you are creating.
How did you find a company to design the app? What factors helped you to decide on this particular company to work with?
We designed the app in-house. Saje ended up teaching herself how to design and create wireframes, design elements and workflow for the iPhone & iPad. It was really important to us that we had a clean design that didn’t take away from the focus of the content.
What type of people do you need to hire when developing an app?
If you don’t have coding background, like in our case, you need to hire a good app developer. Look at work they’ve previously done, contact their references and since it’s a long term relationship make sure it’s someone who communicates well and someone you can work with.
How did you learn what type of technology was needed to develop the app? Did you need to know specific programming language to develop the app?
One of our co-founders had a technical background and had the knowledge base to manage and communicate the team’s needs and wants effectively to develop the app. He was an integral part of the puzzle and every step of the way was ensuring that the decisions that were made with regard to servers, back-end databases, scaling, etc. were the best ones for Bellashoot. It’s really important from the get-go that you have a structure in place that can maintain your growth.
Now that the app is developed, are there costs to maintain the app? What ongoing challenges are you finding?
In order to continue having a great user-experience you have to bug fix, add and enhance existing features, so the development costs of maintenance continue. As you grow and more users discover your app, your server costs also grow. Other third party tools for analytics, push notifications, emails, etc. all have costs that also increase as your user base increases.
Do you have any recommendations for books or websites that can help an aspiring App creator with this process?
There are tons of fantastic resources available online for any app related question you can imagine. Our online research has lead us to a wide variety of tech blogs and online resources. If you’re looking to create an iPhone app, the first place to start is Apple’s iOS Developer Center. You can also find online classes that will teach you a lot of the basics – we have used Treehouse.
Some of our favorite learnings have come from watching YouTube videos of founders speaking at various events or being interviewed about their experiences. You can learn so much about growing a company from those who have been in your shoes.
Here is some information to consider when launching an app:
- Marketing Your App: According to Statista.com, as of July 2014, Android users were able to choose between 3 million apps. Apple’s App Store remained the second-largest app store with 1.2 million available apps
- Think about how people will find your app. Create a strategy for marketing prior launching the app.
- According to former CEO of AppVee and AndroidApps, Alex Ahlund, a survey of 96 mobile app developers found that the average cost to develop an app was $6,453. Another article reports that developing a “small app” can cost $3000 – $8000. More complex apps can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000!