With the popularity and sheer volume of apps in the marketplace, it’s understandable that your business wants to jump onboard. Business Matters claims that 80% of digital activity is done using apps, making it a very valuable marketing tool and route of entry to your customers. However, your business isn’t alone, the competition is fierce. With about 3.8 million Android apps and 2 million IOS apps available for download as of the first quarter of 2018, it’s vital that you ensure your app will stand out.
Developing an app requires focus and flexibility. With many aspects of the development process vying for your attention, it’s important to be aware of common mistakes that are made when creating an app. In this article, we’ll highlight ten pitfalls to avoid when developing an app so you can focus on making yours a success.
Before getting into the detail of developing your app, you must outline the basics. Every app should have a purpose, a value proposition that makes it stand out. Companies can be excited to develop an app but haven’t given enough thought to the value it offers. Developing an app purely because you think it’s a great idea isn’t enough, it’s critical that it answers a need.
To avoid this pitfall make sure you’ve agreed on a value proposition before spending any money on designers or developers. Your proposition must meet the needs of potential users and be highly relevant to its target audience. Having your proposition in mind throughout the build process will help streamline decision making and focus your work on the end goal.
It’s essential to enter into any new venture with a realistic expectation of the costs involved. Developing an app involves a significant financial investment, even for small and medium-sized startups. Medium-sized apps start at €25,000 to €30,000 and can reach as high as €250,000 depending on the features and functionality required.
To ensure you have a realistic budget for your app development project you should consider a variety of factors. Firstly, try to understand the complexity of your app and the functions and features it requires. Next, try to understand the production process and the costs needed for wire framing, design, development, and testing. Finally, make sure you factor in marketing, ongoing costs, upgrades, and maintenance.
Another aspect which can drive up the cost of your app development project is including too many features. Not only is this costly, but often it’s not necessary. The temptation is to try to incorporate everything from your website into a mobile app. However, an app aims to streamline the process of interacting with your business, so it should be as simple as possible. Too many features can make the app clumsy without adding any further value to the user experience.
To help you prioritize the features your app must deliver on its value proposition, try using the MoSCoW method. This is a project management tool which focuses your development plan on what your app must have, should have, could have, and won’t have. Also, bear in mind that your app may not launch with all of its intended features, you may release it to the market before this point and add features further down the line based on its success and user feedback.
You should consider the purpose of your app and how it will benefit your company. It might be a free app that allows customers to make purchases, a subscription-based app or a free app that makes money from advertising. The way your app makes money needs to be suitable for your user base. Take the time to review the pricing strategies of similar apps to yours and make an informed decision before getting too far with development.
Making your app available on the right platforms plays a big part in determining its success. The largest reach and revenues are more often than not available on the two leading platforms, IOS and Android. Together these platforms account for over 95% of the global market share. It is very unlikely for your app to be successful without targeting at least one of these platforms. On the flip side, it can be tempting to develop for every platform available, and this can incur significant costs not only in initial development but in updates and ongoing maintenance.
It’s crucial for you to consider which platforms your app will be available on to ensure you don’t isolate a large potential audience. Carry out market research into your audience and study user demographics. Android carries a larger global market share than IOS but it’s recommended to consider your audience, their location, spending habits, and how they interact with apps.
The difficulty with developing across multiple platforms can be the costs incurred; the development language often requires separate teams. This results in double the time and expense. Fortunately, there are solutions available which allow apps to be built across multiple platforms and ensure they appear as native on each. Xamarin, a Microsoft-owned cross-platform development framework, is one of the most popular tools available to developers. Xamarin produces apps that are native to each platform and take advantage of their unique features but the framework doesn’t require separate development teams. Not only does this result in a significant time saving, it means you can find a team that you want to work with and have confidence that they will be solely responsible for building your app. In addition to this, if your app has been built cross-platform the maintenance costs will be significantly lower than if your app is built separately for each platform.
The quality of an app is vital to its success; it should be glitch-free and to perform perfectly. The look and performance of your app not only represents the app itself but your company and brand. It’s not enough to create an app, launch it, and hope for the best. You need to make sure that it works and to test every function along with its compatibility across all relevant platforms and devices.
To ensure your app is adequately tested it’s recommended that you find beta testers. When you are very familiar with something, it can be hard to spot the errors. Beta testers are a group of people that are independent of the development process. They will be able to help you discover bugs and to make your app more user-friendly.
If you don’t have a marketing plan in place to give your app the necessary boost you might not see the success you hope for. There are millions of apps available in the marketplace, and without a proper strategy yours takes the risk of fading amongst the crowd. You must decide upon your target audience and how you’ll reach them.
It’s recommended that you put together your marketing strategy as part of the app development process. It’s important to decide upfront how you’ll get it to market. You can use market research to help make your plan. You’ll also need to consider pre-launch marketing to create a buzz around your product before it’s available.
During the development process, you will receive feedback from your designers and developers. Both teams will be trying to help you achieve the best, but they often have very different viewpoints. The designer should make room for the developer to change the design to improve functionality. Meanwhile, the developer shouldn’t make functionality-based changes at the expense of usability. It’s essential that both parties are involved in the decision-making process and that their views are listened to.
During the testing phase of your app development, you will receive user-feedback. Some feedback will be opinion-based rather than purely error-driven. It’s important to take all feedback on board as the test group represents your user base. Equally, once your app is live, take notice of feedback and reviews as they can be very valuable and offer great insight.
With all the time and expense you will incur creating an app, it’s vital to ensure it’s the best it can be within your budget. You may have seen elements of other apps that you think would work well in yours. However, simply copying these software tools, although perhaps easier, isn’t always the best approach. It’s vital that you take the necessary time to create the best app you can. It should be unique and provide value. In some instances using existing elements is the best and most cost effective solution, but don’t let it be to the detriment of your product.
When thinking about how well your app will perform, it’s easy to focus on the number of downloads. However, equally if not more important than this, as with any strong marketing strategy, is customer retention. It’s not enough for people to download your app if they then aren’t going to use it. Ensure your app delivers on its promises and keeps users engaged. Give some thought to how you will track any drop off between download and use and build a plan to retain these customers.
Hopefully, you can avoid making these mistakes during your app development project. Make sure all your work is aimed at delivering on that value proposition you’ve made. If you’re new to investing in mobile technology then make sure you trust in your team and that all stakeholders are as invested in your business’s success as you are and you’ll be on the right path.