I have an app idea but no programming skills

Help!  I have an app idea but no programming skills!

If you read our post on mobile app ideas, you have taken the initial steps to validate and determine the feasibility your app idea.

You could continue to validate the idea (and reduce uncertainty and risk) by trying to measure interest in your proposed solution.

One fairly simple method is to create ads and measure click thru rates and signups for your hypothetical app.

This type of validation may not be a good indicator of interest for mobile apps.

Unlike other software products, like a SaaS application for example, people want mobile apps now. Signing up for a mobile app’s future release is not a great measure of existing demand.

Similarly, minimum viable products (or MVPs) for mobile apps can be difficult as the narrow focus of most apps is the MVP.

This article does a great job nailing down the challenge of the MVP for mobile, and where to focus.


Rather than think in terms of an MVP for mobile apps, think in terms of essential and differentiating features.

What are the minimum features necessary to deliver your app idea to the market to test response and demand?

What are the essential features of your app idea?

Everyone, from developers to marketers to customers have a tendency to think more features is better, or that this next feature is the “killer feature” and will change everything.

It is normal to think or want to add everything, or at the very least, add much more than you need to test your assumptions about how your app idea solves a problem.

Here is the reality:

David J Bland

Challenge yourself to identify and focus on the core features, benefits and audience of your app.

The very best way to start defining your app – what it does, how users interact and the essential features – is by creating a wireframe.


There are outstanding tools available, many free or under $10/mth.

Proto.io and Balsamiq are both easy to learn and use, and provide all that you may need for mobile app wireframing.


There are a few things which make these tools super valuable, especially for someone wireframing up their first mobile app:

1 – they come with all sorts of iOS and Android UI elements.  This means fast wireframing, and also provides a feel for how the app might actually look.

2 – support for links or navigation.  Huge.  It is amazing how much is discovered from the user experience (UX) perspective when you start navigating from screen to screen.

The devil is in the details, and wireframing your app idea has a way of surfacing the details you may have overlooked.

How your app works from the front-end is defined in the wireframe.

Does it take a user 2+ clicks to get to your app’s primary function or feature?

How will users access support?

What mechanics do you plan to add to keep users engaged?

How does the app make money?

Building a mobile app without programming skills requires investing time in defining how the app is supposed to work and helps developers or an agency better understand your vision.

The agency, developer or development team may request a product/software requirements doc, or they may build one for the project – but you should start with a wireframe.

Once you have built a wireframe that defines your app idea, take another look to eliminate (or add) features.

Be prepared to invest in marketing and launch

Locating a problem or opportunity, defining a solution and actually building the mobile app is only part of creating a successful mobile app.

In fact, there are more good mobile apps in the app stores than strong marketing efforts to support them.

Marketing is the scarce resource in the mobile app marketplace, not ideas or development.

As a non-technical contributor, you absolutely must have a plan for the sales and marketing of your app.

We are way, way past the days of “If you build it – they will come”.

Ross Morel

Locating cost-effective user acquisition channels for mobile app installs and users is the biggest challenge of most mobile app publishers and marketers.

If you have a large audience already, and your mobile app idea serves this audience, you are in a good position.

Examples include a well read blog, large and engaged social media following or large email list.

Kim Kardashian Hollywood shows what 100m social followers can do.

IMG_0585 copy

Fit Men Cook shows what 1m Instagram followers can do.


Both activated their existing audience to install and engage with their mobile app.

If you don’t have a large audience to promote your app to, app store optimization (ASO) provides a potentially high ROI channel you can build from scratch.

Advertising is a potentially scalable option, but cost per install campaigns are running in excess of $2 per install.  If your app monetizes at better than $2 per install, mobile Facebook ads and other mobile ad networks can be a good option.

Companies like Twitter, Pinterest and SnapChat are working to provide the very best mobile ad platforms as most of their users are interacting with their apps from mobile devices.

Whether you have a rapport with an existing audience, or you plan to invest in ads, your mobile app marketing should start with an optimized app store listing – which is part of a comprehensive ASO plan.

Building your app idea without programming skills is very possible, but requires you to clearly define the idea with a wireframe, and lead the effort in defining a sales and marketing plan.

Why We Don’t Forecast App Store Rank or Install Volume

A common request from our mobile marketing, agency and app publishing clients is for a forecasted app store rank and/or expected install volume increase (or decrease) metric.

This desire for data is understandable and frequent enough that I felt a short post here could add some insight into how we view providing these types of metrics.

We have opted against forecasting the increase of rank or install volume inside our software.

There were several reasons for this decision, but the most important one was that this kind of representation is almost always disingenuous.  It caters to the desire of a marketer to be data driven but does so in a way that doesn’t reflect the way organic marketing really works.

We approach ASO by looking at the whole funnel.  The top of the funnel focuses on keyword ranking and visibility for the application.

We look at things like keyword volume, relevance and also phrase matching in this process with a goal of giving apps the biggest possible footprint within search.

Further down the funnel is conversion — once you have visibility, users have to choose to click your app vs. competitors who also appear in search results.

The conversion rate from app to app on a keyword is almost never the same.

Two different apps can have dramatically different results on the same keyword in similar positions.

We incorporate A/B testing and work on icons and screenshots in our ASO process because this helps improve conversion on your search visibility in a very data driven way.

In the world of SEO, which is a much more mature market, the top analytics software available also doesn’t provide this kind of projection for similar reasons.

To illustrate, this would be like forecasting the number of users who would convert on a website based on the traffic that the keyword planner indicates a particular keyword has.  It doesn’t take into account the actual conversion rate — which is different for every product.

As a philosophy, Gummicube always tries to provide accurate data and representations of how the process works.

We usually avoid pursuing features that in our best determination may misrepresent/mislead partners — even if they may provide short term satisfaction.

Android App Marketing and Google Play ASO

The primary place an Android app is listed is in the Google Play app store.  Google uses this app listing to index an app for app store search results and rankings.

Optimizing an app for discovery and conversion in Google Play is where Android app marketing starts.

This process of optimization for discovery and conversion is called app store optimization, or Google Play ASO.

Google Play App Indexing

The algorithm Google uses to index mobile apps is not public, but we do know what elements of an app listing impact indexing and ranking:

While the app listing helps Google determine what searches an app is relevant for, conversion plays a big role into where an app ranks in specific searches.

Google Play App Store Discovery

Before a conversion can occur, an app must be discovered.  A user searches Google Play and immediately see results for apps Google feels meets their query.

To help Google understand what searches are relevant to an app (or conversely, which apps are relevant to a search), Google relies on several elements from the app listing.

We have created short, useful guides for how to maximize the benefits and opportunity provided in each of these elements.

App Titlehow to format an app title with examples

Short Descriptionhow Google uses this field, and where potential users see it

Long Descriptionwhy getting this right has more impact on app discovery than any other field

Converting Views to Users

Anything that is viewable impacts conversion rates, including the app title and descriptions.  But visual elements tend to have the biggest impact on what users expect and how they understand an app features.

Conversion rates are highest where creative elements highlight features that align with user searches.

The creative elements include:

App Iconslearn how to optimize app icon design for conversion

App Screenshotshow the best apps use screenshots, and what the content of a screenshot must include

Discovery and Conversion Work Together

Where an app ranks for specific searches in Google Play is the combination of what the app is indexed for and how well the app converts when shown in specific search results.

As such, discovery by a relevant target audience should be the goal of any optimization effort.

Much of this starts with determining who the target audience is, and how they are searching the Google Play app store, including the specific search terms they are using.

Learn more about developing a target keyword strategy and building a keyword bucket of relevant search terms.

Google Play App Name – crafting a great App Title

The name of an app in a Google Play app listing is called the app title, and plays a big role in how Google indexes an app for appearing in search results.

Other components of a Google Play app store listing that impact how an app ranks and for which app store searches include the short description and the full description.

Google Play App Title

Google Play app name length

It is generally recognized that the less space in a field, the greater the importance (or weight) given to the field. Like a pyramid with the Google Play app name at the top.

For example, Google provides only 30 characters (spaces included) for the app title, with the words used in the app title carrying more weight than either short or long description fields (which have 80 and 4,000 characters respectively).

Not only are the words used in the Google Play app title important for indexing, the App Title also tells the user in a few seconds what you app does.

Because the title of an app impacts both discovery and conversion – an optimized title maybe the most critical piece of an ASO strategy.

An optimized Google Play app name

An optimized app title starts with understanding which features of an app are most in-demand or differentiating, and how the market is referring to these features.

Google recommends “brand name + key function”.

For Google Play ASO purposes, format the app title using the app name and the most important relevant feature (or function).

Google Play ASO is much more about relevance then trying to rank for words or phrases that have a lot of search traffic. Because conversion from search impacts what an app is ranked for, targeting relevant features (keywords and phrases) produces a far better result than aiming too broadly.

App Name Examples

A good example of an app title that makes good use of the 30 characters is hotels.com.

Google Play App Name Example

The Google Play app name follows the recommended format of “Brand Name” and  targets a feature that is both their most important and clearly explains what the app is.

 App Name Guidelines

From time to time, Google updates the guidelines and restrictions to app names in Google Play.

The most common restriction to avoid is creating an app name with another’s brand in the beginning or start of the app title.

Google Play app name guidelines

Complete Google Play app name guidelines can be found here.

App Store Optimization (ASO) Blog | Mobile App Marketing