Finding a developer
Finding the right developer to build your app plays an important role in its success.
Picking a development company that focuses solely on app development is a good starting point. There’s a big difference between designing and developing apps versus websites. The subtle design differences and nuances between iOS and Android platforms may not be understood by web designers and can cause problems further along the development process.
Having a focus on a particular skill set is what makes a company become an expert in that particular field. Do your research and pick a mobile app development company whose sole focus is on app development. They’ll be the expert in both the design and development of mobile apps and will provide a complete end to end service.
The importance of focus
The focus of the app idea needs to be maintained if the app is to be successful. The lead UX designer at Tapadoo uses the following analogy of a babysitting app to demonstrate this point.
Imagine viewing a parenting app. It includes every type of information you need possible on parenting from feeding, sleeping and play, along with in-app purchases. It also has a babysitting feature thrown in on top that lists babysitters who have paid to have their details listed. These apps are normally heavily funded by one of the bigger companies who provide baby products and are using it as a branding exercise.
Now imagine that you have another app that focuses purely on babysitting. It vets each babysitter and specialises in identifying all the qualified babysitters in your local area and allows you to select one based on your preferences.
If you were looking for a babysitter, which app would you choose to use? The app that has no real focus, other than maybe a ‘branding exercise’ or the app that focuses fully on providing babysitting services.
An experienced app development company will help keep the apps focus and deliver the key aspect to your end-users. Your app may still have a number of different features, but the overall function of the app is fully focused on solving the problem that your original idea was conceived to do.
Testing your app after it’s developed
A key stage in the development process is acceptance testing. This is where you as the owner of the app get to make sure the app does what you want it to do (this is its validation) and that it does it with no errors (this is the verification).
The validation and verification are vitally important to get right if you want to ensure that the app that your users first see works correctly. There is nothing worse as a user than being given an app full of errors with a promise that they’ll be fixed at a future date. They want something that works from day one or they’ll quickly move on to using something different.
Planning how you’re going to validate and verify your app is something you should be doing while the app is being developed so you’re ready to go as soon as the app is ready. The app development business will also appreciate having test results provided straight away rather than a few months later when the development team are busy on their next task.
The more effort and expertise you can throw at the testing, the better your app will be. The better your app is on day one, the greater the chances that users will get on board and recommend it to their friends and colleagues. Their word of mouth recommendations can be the best marking resource that there is, and it comes with no charge so embrace this opportunity if you can.
Marketing your app
Technically the marketing phase happens after the app is fully developed but, in reality, the marketing of your app should begin at the very start as this can influence decisions made in the design phase.
Where apps already have a well-established audience in place and the app is solving a real-life problem then marketing is not strictly necessary other than communicating its availability to the user base. However, this is not normal for most app ideas as generally a truly original idea for an app will need to start from scratch without the benefit of an established business model to follow.
The key lesson is to never develop an app unless you know how it’s going to make money. Always start with the business plan first and then develop the app to meet that plan. To help you fully understand and achieve this, we’ve written an eBook on ‘How to market your mobile app’. It covers the different stages of marketing an app; planning, user acquisition, user activation, user retention and brand advocates.
We recommend that you read this first, so you know exactly what’s involved in marketing your app. It will give you lots of examples of apps that started out as just an idea and that succeeded with little or no marketing budgets.
Maintenance and Support
Once an app is in the marketplace, the process doesn’t end there. This post-development phase when the app is out in the wild is rarely considered by those with an idea for an app.
When an app has been released it needs to be maintained and updated to keep it up to date with both operating system changes and the number of new devices that are continuously coming to the market.
It’s also likely that you will experience changes in your user’s behaviour or their expectations, or that competitors will appear with their own apps that threaten to outperform your app. You need constant vigilance of the marketplace and the capability to adapt your app in response to changes. Be that altering existing features, or adding a new feature, to stay one step ahead.
Providing users with mechanisms for feedback can help facilitate this. In-app feedback is often better than a user having to leave the app and log online to provide feedback. Investing in adequate support channels will be necessary if you would like your prized app to have longevity in the marketplace.
The costs and budgeting for this support need to be planned for before the development begins as part of the business plan if the app is to be successful in the long term. The reputations of apps live and die by the feedback from the users, an app that is not supported and maintained adequately will quickly be found out.