29 Dec, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

How much time does it take to make an app?

By Lee Foster

I sometimes get asked by people who might want to develop an app, especially
a photo or travel app, “Just how long does it take you to develop an app?”

The answer is somewhat complicated. A short answer is: if you work with a
developer such as Sutro Media, and have an app with 120 entries, then I
would allow an hour per entry of your time for the initial product, or 120

Beyond that guiding thought, here are a few of the complexities:

For the photos, since each entry uses at least one photo, you will need
your own photos or some photos you cull from other sources, such as Creative
Commons on Flickr. If your own photos are ready, good. If not, for your
desired subject, it may take a long time to develop the photos. Possibly
you have been photographing your subject for the last 20 years. So your app
may have taken you 120 hours and 20 years to develop.

For the texts, since each entry has some text, you will need to think
through and create your succinct texts. Sometimes a briefer text takes
longer to write. Your writing skills and speed at writing is an unknown

When you develop an app, you will need to follow it forever. An app is
never done. It can always be improved and strengthened, possibly with more
photos and more write-ups. My San Francisco Travel Photo Guide app began
with 100 entries and 100 photos. Now it has 120 entries and 550 photos, and
will grow. Your customers expect your app to keep getting stronger.

Apps are software and, in the software world, a re-release of the software,
with improvements, is expected. The software engines behind apps keep
developing. For example, the new release of my Washington DC Travel Photo
Guide allows the consumer to email a section he or she likes to a friend. I
needed to do a new release to get this new modality in the app engine
software to kick in.

Working with your app developer, you need to anticipate what the
requirements will be for advancing technology. For example, all the photos
in my latest app Berkeley Essential Guide are 2100 pixels on the long side.
That is necessary because the iPad reader can take a 1084 pixel size photo.
I put the photos in a little larger (at 2,100) just to protect myself from
the possibility that a year from now the developer might say to me, “Lee, we
need all the photos a little larger.” The photos for my San Francisco and
DC apps were originally put in at a size that was fine for the iPhone, but
which proved to be too small for the iPad. This was a big mistake. All the
photos had to be swapped in again with replacements larger in pixel size
after the iPad caught on.

Produce apps only if you want to make a long term commitment. Beyond just
getting your app published, you need to promote it to get sales. This is an
ongoing effort. Sales of apps, like sales of photos generally, don’t happen
by accident. Attention to detail in the marketing of an app is needed for

However, as a start, if you must have a broad-brush guideline, plan for a
120-hour window of your time to create your 120-entry app.

Lee Foster
Travel writing/photos on 200 destinations for consumers and content buyers at http://www.fostertravel.com
5,000 hi-res photos searchable and downloadable at http://stockphotos.fostertravel.com
Three new photo travel guidebooks at http://www.fostertravel.com/book.html
Latest thoughts on travel at http://blog.fostertravel.com
Travel photo guide app on San Francisco at http://www.sutromedia.com/apps/sfphotoguide
Travel photo guide app on Washington DC at http://sutromedia.com/apps/DC_Travel_Photo_Guide
Travel guide app on Berkeley, CA at http://sutromedia.com/apps/Berkeley_Essential_Guide


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