Recent research has found that 90 per cent of mobile apps are abandoned within the first year. I believe this is because too many companies are building apps simply for the sake of it and are not considering the end user. With this in mind, I will look at the steps that should be taken in order to build a successful app and why it's important to remember the reasons for building it.
Regardless of the kind of app that you’re building, it is there to be used by people. That’s why it’s important to remember the end user at all times. If you don’t put the end user at the centre of your app development, it’s unlikely that the app will gather much success and probably won’t reach much further than your immediate contacts. What’s more, if you haven’t properly thought about the needs of your target audience, the chances are you’re actually just creating an app for the sake of it.
The key to developing and promoting a successful app is effective and well considered planning. So if you’re thinking about creating one, here are a few things that you should consider to help guarantee a successful app:
1) What are you aiming to achieve with your app?
This is something you need to think carefully about from the beginning. There’s no point in rushing to make an app if you don’t know why you’re building it or if you simply feel like you should just have one. If you do, the likeliness is that your idea will run out of steam before it’s finished and you’ll struggle to make it work for your intended user if it doesn’t have a defined purpose.
For instance, if you’re just looking to create a website that works on a mobile, you don’t necessarily need to build an app to carry out this function – you could just create a responsive website. Apps should do so much more than allowing a website to be mobile, such as helping to generate new business leads, boost customer engagement, improve internal processes and even boost revenues through paid downloads, advertising or in-app purchases.
2) Who will use your app?
The next step is to think about who will actually use your app. It’s beneficial to carry out some research with your target audience to get thoughts and feedback on your idea. This way you can determine whether what you’re trying to do is feasible and whether your audience will be interested in using it. For your app to really work, you need to have a defined audience so that it will actually cater for their needs.
3) What function will the app perform?
The app needs to have a clear purpose and should be simple, easy-to-use and reliable.
It’s best to make your app do one thing really well rather than trying to get it do lots of things poorly. If you do need it to perform several tasks, it’s important to let your development team know from the very beginning as it will be much more difficult to add extra functions later on and this will also increase costs and delay the app from being finished on time.
4) Where will your content come from?
You need to consider where your data will come from as this can also determine the success of your app.
For example, if the purpose of your app is to allow users to browse your range of products, updating information needs to be straightforward. Embedding content within the app is simple and quick to code but can make updating information difficult, whereas downloading content from a server takes more time but makes updates relatively easy.
5) Is your app easy to use?
Most users will abandon an app if they find it difficult to use and navigate around. Again, this is where it’s extremely useful to gather the thoughts and opinions from your target audience. A usability test will help you to determine whether the design works and will also give you a heads-up early on if there are any potential usability issues.
Remember that you will need to take into account different devices as they will have different expectations. An app may perform differently on an iOS device compared to an android. Therefore, if you impose a one-size-fits-all approach you may risk losing part of your audience.
6) Do you have all the resources to develop the app you want?
It may be the case that you need to use a mix of internal and external teams to help build the app as you may not have all the resources in-house to deliver the best quality app.
This could possibly involve outsourcing some or all of the work so you need to make it clear who’s responsible for what and how much it will cost. Also check the experience and references of the development team so you know that they will be able to put your ideas into action well.
7) How will you launch your app?
When launching the app, it should be done under your brand and this should be clearly defined from the outset – especially if you’re relying on third parties to build the app.
This is your app so it should have your business name all over it. If it’s launched under a different name, say perhaps the name of the development team, users will get confused as to who the app belongs to and it’s much harder to get the name changed later on.
8) Have you got copies of the source code?
As the owner of the app, you should have rights to own the code too - the information that makes up the app. It’s also really important that you make copies of this code.
With the source code, you can then choose who will handle the maintenance and any updates that the app may need in the future. Make sure that you get regular copies of the code throughout the development and that you also get the final code once it’s been finished. Just to be safe, I’d also advise getting someone else to independently check that the code is accurate.
9) Are you regularly testing throughout development?
Testing should be carried out during every stage of the development process so that you can uncover any issues as soon as they occur. This should help you fix any potential problems quickly without having too much of an impact on the delivery date.
Testing should include examining how the app copes in different environments and locations and across a range of devices and platforms. Frequent testing will also help to see how it reacts to common issues such as a sudden loss of connectivity or battery failure.
It's impossible to launch an effective app without regular testing. A strong testing plan will ensure the performance of your app and help you examine its usefulness through actionable feedback. By implementing these planning tips, you will be providing your app with a better chance of success.
By Nick Black, co-founder and director Apadmi.
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