How to Temper Expectations About Your New App

I’ve written plenty of times about what’s involved with building an app or commissioning an outside team to help on that endeavor but not really much on how to manage expectations when you’re building one. has an excellent shortlist of thoughts you should meditate on if this is indeed something you’re going to be investing your time and money into.

I won’t rehash the entire post here, but here are the broad strokes:

1. Is this something you’ll actually use?
2. Understand that you don’t determine the app’s success; the market does.
3. Don’t try to to raise outside money until you have real users and real feedback.
4. Ask yourself whether you want to be doing this for the next five years.

I feel like, so often, people glaze over right past that first point. Apps have a place in our minds as a thing that exist as bragging rights only just so you can tell people, “Oh, and we also have an app.” But is that app actually useful and necessary? So much so that you, the driving force behind the company, would use it? If not, and if you don’t want to be maintaining the app and patching it half a decade later for your customers, then ask yourself, truly: Why am I making this app and for whom?

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David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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