Posted by Josh Jeffery on May 31st, 2019.
Only a few years ago, the idea that businesses should have their own smartphone applications would probably have raised a chuckle.
Fast-forward ten years, and so many businesses have their own apps now it almost seems expected.
There’s a good reason for this: ‘convenience’ is the name of the game these days, and almost everyone has a smartphone.
And those smartphones are loaded with apps – so why isn’t one of them for your business?
If you do it right, developing an app can really give your business a boost.
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind as you get started …
Your app probably won’t become popular overnight. It’ll need to have appeal and functionality that makes it more than just a smartphone version of a website.
The first thing you need to do is begin to piece together a plan for what kind of app your business needs. What you want it to achieve, how long it’ll take to get going, that kind of thing.
When coming up with a key concept, a vital question to consider is what business challenge will the app overcome?
The answer doesn’t have to be too in depth; it can be anything from making the company more accessible to offering a mobile option or service that your competitors don’t.
If you’re struggling to find a concept that makes your app worth downloading, look at competitors with similar business model for potential ideas. The idea you need may be out there already.
On the other hand, sometimes you can’t come up with a concept because your business doesn’t actually need a mobile app!
If your issue can be resolved by simply making your existing product more mobile-friendly, you may find it’s better to just save money instead of making an app. A good app should be able to return the investment you made on developing it, after all.
If you decide that an app will indeed help your business and decide to go ahead with it, the first major step is market research. In particular, you’ll need to identify the audience your app is going to target.
You may think that your app would have the same target audience as your business. In many cases, however, the convenience of an app means you will attract new types of customer.
Crossover between the focus audiences of your main service and your new app is inevitable, so it’s vital you make sure the app is familiar, appealing and comfortable for existing customers to use.
Check out competitor apps and consider focus testing and focus groups to better understand your audience.
Market research takes place throughout all stages of development: planning, development, and well after publishing.
Of course, the goal of market research is to get to know what your customers want. Once you know that, you can create your app around a tailored experience.
Remember, however, there’s an important distinction between wants and needs. Giving customers everything they want may seem smart, but it can lead to a bloated service filled with unnecessary features – instead you should design the app around what the customer needs.
Once you’ve done enough research it’ll be easier to plan how to make them download the app, or cultivate a habitual aspect that will keep them checking and using it regularly.
Depending on the sort of app you want to make, you should definitely consider hiring a professional app developer.
From making simple web applications that work across many platforms, to making dedicated apps for each major platform, the typical budget needed can range from £2,500 to £40,000.
So, for example, if you decide that you don’t need a ground-up dedicated app, you can develop a web-app instead. Making your existing service mobile-responsive is simpler and cheaper.
There are two major mobile operating systems: Android and iOS. Both have millions of users around the world, and both have different development languages, and experts recommend making your service useable on both operating systems.
You also need to make sure what you want to create is both user-friendly.
The interface needs to be simple, satisfying, smooth and appealing on the eyes. Mobile app interface experience relies on the content being streamlined and easy to navigate – so keep clutter to an absolute minimum!
Even if you’ve designed a cutting edge app that will make back the investment you put into it within a year or so, that doesn’t mean you can just sit back and relax.
You should consider staggering the releases of basic features to keep user engagement high.
Launching with too many new features can overwhelm users rather than keeping them engaged. Analysts find that introducing a new feature or update every 2-3 months is a great way to keep users interested.
Staying out front of the competition means keeping up at the cutting edge. In practice this means you should expect not just maintenance, but potential revisions of the whole app in the future.
This is why it’s important to keep a research team on hand – before you know it, user activity could be slowing and a new version of the app could become necessary.
Planning and designing an app while keeping all this in mind can sound overwhelming. But don’t worry – even if things don’t go perfectly, a good plan can really help you focus your business needs and keep ahead of the game.
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