This blog was posted by Howie Chan, Business Analyst at TechAlliance
Many entrepreneurs with a mobile app idea often hit a hurdle early in the development process and scramble to find a developer (see my blog “I need a developer – now!” for tips and tricks on finding talent). The problem may be systemic, attributed to left and right-brained theories of human psychology, since entrepreneurs are typically driven by the right side of their brain (creative), whereas programmers are typically left-brained (logical).
How can we solve this problem? Here are a few ideas on how you, the creative entrepreneur, can do it yourself (DIY).
Traditional in-class courses have been replaced by a variety of online, interactive, and engaging substitutes. Courses are designed and tailored to visual (udemy), auditory (podcasts), and even kinesthetic (codecademy) learners. Watch videos, listen to podcasts, or code in real-time with an online tutorial. These are some of the ways other entrepreneurs are choosing to help the DIY market.
FAQs, discussion boards, and live chats
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) help solve your typical definition or rudimentary problems. Discussion boards allow a user to post a question and can range from very broad topics to hierarchical sites that categorize where to post questions. Be careful when posting to hierarchical sites since moderators on these sites don’t like “noobs” or “spammers.” Take advantage of search tools on forums to find what you need first. Q&A sites like stackoverflow are great resources.
Internet relay chat (IRC) has resurfaced since its heydays on Netscape. Like many messenger clients (Windows Live Messenger, Google Chat), IRC channels allow you to post questions in real-time and interact with a community of developers such as your personal Geek squad (Bestbuy).
I’ve used WebPlatform, an initiative driven by notable companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Adobe.
Templates and drag’n drop
You’ve found out where to start and now you need some building blocks to get going. Purchase or find a free version of a template for either your website or mobile device. Most of these templates will come with either a FAQ or quick start guide to help you get the ball rolling.
Drag and drop development is also on the rise. You can build an app in seconds with solutions like tiggzi. Be wary when building apps solely from drag and drop solutions; they’re both confining and limited in features. As it stands, you’ll most likely need to port your app into a different environment unless the features roll-out on sites, like tiggzi, increase. Other drag and drop environments include MobileIgniter, Application Craft, and Mowares.
Plugins and APIs
Plugins are features, generally associated with websites, that allow you to add additional functionality, such as e-commerce or user account management. In most cases, plugins are “plug-and-play” and should work without much tinkering.
Application program interfaces (APIs) are more challenging to use than plugins. However, I strongly believe entrepreneurs should be aware of their existence.
What is an API? An API allows you to access a function or feature of another program without fully integrating it into your own lines of code.
What does this mean? For the entrepreneur, it means you can “outsource” a function of your business to another company that has a core competency in performing a set task. Some examples include Yelp’s product reviews, PayPal’s credit card processing or Facebook’s user information. As the creator of the API, you can monetize your core competency, direct additional traffic to your website, and create competitive advantages through ecosystem development.
Where can you find an API? Most large websites are already on board and actively promote developers to use their APIs. In most cases, a unique feature or function idea might already exist and can found through Google.
Need help putting the steps together? Drop me a line at email@example.com