For businesses today offering a mobile app is no longer a luxury, it’s an expectation. But there are a lot of ordinary apps out there and in a very noisy marketplace (over 70 billion apps are estimated to be downloaded by the end of 2013), if your app is ordinary too – it will just disappear.
Here are some tips you should consider to ensure your app has the best chance of success.
1. What is the point of your app?
You need to identify exactly what your app is for. Is it to enhance the way customers interact with you, improve your brand presence, or generate revenue directly through paid downloads, in-app advertising or in-app purchases? An app should enhance and complement your existing website, not just be a copy of it.
2. Understand your target users
Do you know what your audience’s usage patterns are likely to be? Are they web-savvy or novices? What mobile devices do they use? Consider these answers to design your app so it’s both useful and usable to the people you want to use it.
3. How will it function?
The key to the functionality of your app is simplicity, usability and reliability. It should meet a specific need, perform a specific task and enrich your website and brand. It’s better to launch an app that does a few things seamlessly, rather than launching an app that does lots of things badly.
4. To consume or create?
Apps are generally used in two ways: either consuming content, or creating it. If it’s to consume, you must know where that content comes from, and how it gets into your app.
Be aware that content that is embedded into the application, or downloaded from a server has a massive influence on the size of the app, and complexity of the code. Embedding content makes apps harder to update, but simplifies the code. Downloading content remotely makes the code more complex, but updates easier.
5. Design an intuitive UI
User expectations are high: people are used to well-designed, functional apps, so a clunky design will hinder its success. Also, remember each mobile platform has certain idioms users are accustomed to – so ensure your app fits expectations on the intended platforms.
6. Choose your partner
When choosing an app partner, remember that this is more than just programming. The partner should take you through concept creation and definition, user interface design, development, app testing, launch, social media integration, analytics and on-going support to fix bugs and ensure compatibility with new platform versions and devices as they launch.
7. What’s yours is yours
Unless agreed up front for “commercial reasons”, it’s critical that you launch the app under your company name, not the developer’s, to avoid confusing users and future complications. If you create a great app, it should have your brand all over it. Also make sure you own the source code – you’ve paid for it, after all!
8. The launch
With hundreds of new apps launching each day, it isn’t enough to just hope it gets downloaded. Plan your app’s promotion – how will you get your app to your customers? Also consider pricing: inevitably, free downloads are more popular than paid ones, so you should only charge if the app truly adds value through content or functionality.
Nick Black is the Co-Founder & Sales Director at Apadmi. He works closely with the Apadmi engineering teams to design, build and deliver innovative mobile apps and server solutions. More advice and tips for app development can be found at www.apadmi.com