Smartphones are a great way to reach your customers and make new ones. Businesses can no longer survive without their very own smartphone apps. Thus, more and more small and big companies are now having their apps built. And if you are among them as well, then we have created for you a checklist of all the phases you need to go through to get your app developed in the right way.
Let’s jump in then!
Conduct market research
Have you heard the phrase: Starting off on the right foot?
The first step in this checklist completely aligns with it. You need to kick off your app development process in the right way. And the best way to do it is by performing thorough market research.
Market nowadays, on top of needs, is ruled by trends. Now the problem with trends is that they change- they come and go. Something which is cool today, might not be cool a year from now. So you need to know about the current market trends. Collecting customer reviews and performing face-to-face interviews are only some of the ways to gather customer sentiments towards an ongoing trend.
The collected data also helps you in predicting how the trend wave is shifting. Remember, if you start developing a trendy app now when that trend has already existed for a couple of months, then the chances are by the time your app goes live, that trend might be in its twilight. So even after all the market research, your app will still be out-dated.
So knowing the current trend is not nearly enough. You need to predict the future trend for your app to remain relevant in the longer run.
Using an analytics report is also an excellent way to gather crucial data. Apart from trends, your customer base will also decide the fate of your app. A couple of pointers on this note:
The analytics data will tell you which country has the highest demand for the apps that you are about to release.
It will also show you the saturation of various mobile platforms in multiple places. For example, sites like Europe and America have a higher iOS presence than the Orient or India. So this will help you in selecting the right platform for your app, which we will discuss later.
Finally, this data will also help you in targeting a more focused customer base. For example, according to a recent study, more than 80% of Instagrammers are below the age of 35. So based on the age group you want to target, you can introduce features and designs which are in demand among the people in that age group.
Know your competitors
Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. This phrase alone, we believe, is enough to surmise this point.
According to Statista.com, as of Q1 of 2018, there are 3.8 million apps registered on Google Play Store while there are 2 million apps on the Apple App Store. These figures make it abundantly clear that the competition in the market is fierce. There are more than one apps in the market doing the same thing as you are.
So you need to ask yourself, “why would the consumers even bother downloading your app?” The answer to this question is not in what your competitors have; it’s in what they don’t have. That’s the jackpot information. Because what they lack, you can bring to the users with your app and that will automatically propel your downloads through the roof.
Studying your competitors is also a great way to avoid making the mistakes they did. Furthermore, you can also derive the data of the things they did which boosted their sales.
Find out customer demands
If we don’t take care of the customer, then someone else will. It’s a famous saying, and we have a poster hanging in our head office saying the exact thing as well.
It is also, absolutely correct.
Nowadays, customers have no shortage of choices and options. If you and your app are unable to deliver, then they will find someone who will. So the best thing you can do to stay in the market is listening to your customers. And that doesn’t just go for when you have an app in the marketplace already. It goes for when you’re planning to develop one as well.
Customers will always be unsatisfied. That’s an ugly truth. Visit an app’s App store page and read the customer reviews at the bottom. You will realize that no matter what the developer does, customers still find faults and shortcomings with their products.
Customers always want more.
So what do you do? You give them more, that’s what.
This is by extension another part of Market Research as well. When you will conduct customer interviews and read their reviews on other apps’ App Store pages; you will realize what they want and what they don’t.
And you can use this data in deciding what you need to keep in your app and what you don’t.
Furthermore, what this phase will do for you is make it clear whether your customers want the service you’re providing or not. No idea is a bad idea, granted. But not every idea is profitable or feasible either. So make sure that your customers need your services before you jump into the development phase and invest in your app.
Make a clear blueprint of your app
Now that you have done in-depth market research, you have all the information and tools you need to start planning your app. This is where you sit down and map out what your app will do.
What will be its features?
What will be your customer base?
What age group will you target?
What country is most profitable for our app?
The answer to all these questions you will find in this phase.
Now poor planning leads to poor and costly implementations. If you are not clear about the objective of your app, how do you expect your developers to create it? So before you reach out to them, you need be certain of your needs and goals with this app.
Create a budget
All the planning in the world cannot do you any good if you don’t have money to put in. We would like to make it absolutely clear to our readers that developing an app, is a costly venture. And there is always a good chance that the amount that you will spend on it will be more than the allocated budget.
The reason being the high amount of variables involved in the process. Technical difficulties, system failures, platform changes, uncertain customers, these are only some of the things that can affect the cost of your app. Also, the platform that you choose to go with will also affect your final price. We will discuss this further in the next point.
Furthermore, you need to allocate enough budget that you can sustain the cost of development and testing process as well. Sometimes, testing becomes even more tedious than the development process. It reveals many technical oversights, and this may lead to some drastic changes in the basic skeleton of the project. This certainly will cost you more than your sanctioned budget.
Then there is always the possibility that after deployment, users start to complain about bugs or glitches or some functionality which they think could be better. So you need work quickly here and ask your development team to fix those things as well. This will naturally cost more.
So it is a good idea to have scope to accommodate all the variables that can go wrong.
Choosing a platform
When we say it is time to choose a platform, we mean multiple things at the same time.
It is well known that the smartphone market is widely distributed between iOS and Android OSs. There are other players in the game as well, but compared to these two, their share of the market is almost negligible. Staista.com reports that 88% of the total market share is dominated by Android while iOS has control over 11.9%. The rest of 0.1% is divided between smaller players like Microsoft and Bada.
So it is a prudent move for a small business to choose either iOS or Android as their app’s platform. Now let us break this point down systematically.
Cost of developing an Android app:
Android is the undisputed king of the market. It has more apps on Google Play Store, it has many devices and variants, and it is incredibly flexible and open source. So the possibilities with Android are limitless.
But the problem with Android apps is that because there are so many variants of the OS, an app needs to be tested for all of them which adds to your development cost.
Another thing which should affect your choice of platform is ROI (Return on Investment). It is a widely accepted theory that people who own Android phones, don’t like to buy apps. And more than that, they do not purchase in-app services either.
Cost developing an iOS app:
Apple products are widely accepted as a rich man’s gadgets. So people with iPhones are expected pay for apps and buy in-app services as well. Also, because iOS only has a handful of variations, it is easier and cheaper to test an iOS app.
But you should also keep in mind the market share iOS owns. If you alienate Android users, you might be sacrificing a lot of business.
Now obviously, it is not enough for a business to have an app for just one platform these days. Your app needs to be developed for both Android and iOS. The reason being, you cannot afford to bar out an entire section of people from using your app. Furthermore, if your competition has an app for both platforms, it hurts your chances of surpassing them in the market.
But being a small business, we get it that you cannot go for developing apps for both platforms at the same time. Not in the beginning at least. But there is a way you can.
There are primarily two types of apps in the market: Native and Hybrid apps. Native apps are developed for only one platform at a time. If you need to build the same app for the other platform as well, you need to pay for it and have it developed separately. So this will cost you twice.
Hybrid apps, on the other hand, are web-fronted apps which are developed for both Android and iOS at the same time. They are cheaper and easier to build. They also have a shorter development time as well.
But naturally, while a Hybrid app acts like a Native app, it has somewhat poorer quality and operational speed than Native.
Selecting a developer
Now that you have a clear picture and a game plan, you can start looking for a development firm. It is a crucial decision, mind you. The firm you select will understandably affect your product. There are many players in the development game, and all of them have different approaches. But they do work on some common grounds as well. For example, most of them charge on per-hour-work basis.
You need to do thorough research of these firms before you go hiring them. There are various sites online like Clutch.com where you can go and read all about these IT firms. These websites provide you with customer reviews, their past projects, etc. So you can decide after conducting in-depth research on these firms.
If money is not an issue, you can hire a high-end IT firm to develop your app. But if money is a little tight, you can always go looking for some off-shore developers.
This point might not seem too important to some but believe us, it is. Branding has the power to make or break your app. There were countless examples in the marketplace when brilliantly created apps failed while poorly made services took off just because of branding.
From selecting a logo for your app to what you’re going to call it, all of it will decide the fate of your app.
Also, you should try to make your app as eye-catching as possible. It’s all packaging; have you ever heard of not judging a book with its cover?
Well, we all do it.
And it is done too often on all of the app stores as well. So you need to make sure that you make your app as alluring and as intriguing as possible. But that doesn’t mean you get too on board. You can’t make your UI too complicated or hard to use. People don’t want to go through all that hassle just order a pair of sneakers.
So you need to find the perfect balance between visual appeal, ease of use, and sound technological backbone.
Launching an app is only one-half of the picture. After the deployment, comes the perpetual cycle of updating your app; the quest to create the perfect product. It is impossible. But you have to try.
So over the course of time, you will need to release multiple updates for your app. Fixing what you can fix; improving what you can improve.
On top of that, you need to listen to your customers and provide features or changes they are asking for as well. It is a chance for you to improve your product and keep your customers excited about it.
Most successful apps on app stores release updates on a regular basis. Updation is also a great way to introduce new technologies in your app. We live in times when every year, something new comes out. Take AR for example. Recently, many apps are trying to find ways to make use of this new technology. The purpose is dual-edged here. It will no doubt enhance their apps’ functionality, but it will also reel in new customers while keeping the ones that they have excited.
Rewarding Customer Loyalty
The last thing on this checklist is rewarding your customers’ loyalty. You need to continually find ways in which you can make your customers feel special and valued. Random sales, coupons and other such marketing tactics help you in earning loyalty points and be in your customers’ good graces.
In the end, you need to understand that its a process, and it will always keep going. Your job doesn’t end with creating your app. The real task starts once your app is out.
Running your business and keeping it relevant is the real challenge you will face. So by following the above checklist, you can make sure that your app doesn’t just survive in the market but thrive in it as well.