The most successful apps that you will have heard of will have identify a public need: WhatsApp for messaging; Google Maps for navigation; Uber for on-demand mobility. These apps were built to resolve specific issues and that will have taken a lot of investment – often millions – with plenty of additional budget for a big marketing strategy to get them out there.
On the other hand, you might be considering having an app developed that helps customers interact more easily with your business, or one that helps to drive efficiency in internal processes. These aren’t instant revenue generators or app store chart toppers and they will take far less investment that those that do have their sights set on the top of chart.
Apps that improve customer experience or help to drive better business results are where the real value lays for businesses but there are a few factors that must be considered to ensure the app is ready for market:
- Budget and compromise
The cost of developing an app can all too easily be underestimated. Most companies don’t have the budget the likes of Facebook, Google and Uber have ploughed into development. Often businesses with a low budget will only want to design a minimum viable product, but then it turns out that that minimum viable product needs to have all kinds of special features, especially if it has to compete with other existing that serve the same purpose.
If the app is competing with another similar product, it’s important to try not to directly compete feature for feature and pound for pound. Instead think about where your budget can be spent the most effectively. This usually involves some compromise.
To ensure success from the outset, the app has to provide a slick and seamless user experience and it has to be able to perform on all devices running on Android and iOS. You have to enter the process in the right mindset and that’s being prepared to compromise on features so your budget is spent on getting the initial user experience right. Usually this means launching with a simple feature set that delivers immediate value and then growing from there.
- Driving engagement
If you’re creating a public app that can be downloaded from the app store, you’ve got to consider what your route to market is and how you’re going to get the app in front of users who will download and actively engage with it. It pays to work with a developer that will provide expert consultancy beyond coding the app to your requirements – you’ll need this strategic input for marketing and onboarding users.
The onboarding process is one of the biggest stumbling blocks. Even with an app that is intended for your customers or people within your business, you need to ensure the onboarding process is seamless so that app can provide the value it’s supposed to deliver. If you require users to sign up or sign in to use the app, you’ve got to consider how to make this as frictionless as possible. Requiring the user to sign up by filling out a form or going into their emails to click a validation link will add pain points to the process, devaluing the user experience from the outset. Using magic links or a single sign process can simplify the onboarding experience.
You also need to think ahead. A week down the line, your app could already be forgotten about or be offloaded from a new user’s device to free up storage space. To avoid these scenarios you need to be thinking about ways to encourage the user to engage with the app and recognise the value that it provides. Push notifications and email campaigns are effective ways to encourage engagement and remind users that the app is there on their device ready to add value in the way it has been designed to.
- Maintaining a great user experience
Before your app is ready for launch, you need to consider how you will maintain a great user experience once the app is live. This requires ongoing maintenance and improving and optimising the user experience throughout the app’s lifecycle.
Bugs and issues will have a poor on impact user experience and can drive down engagement if they stop users from being able to use the app for what’s its designed to do. There’s a growing portfolio of tools such as Google’s Firebase that you can use to track app performance, diagnose issues occurring on users devices and reduce troubleshooting time through real time tracking of app crashes.
Integrating those tools from the beginning will enable you to monitor and maintain your world class user experience, ensuring users keep opening and engaging with the app and leaving good reviews.
It’s important to consider all of these areas before you decide to launch your app. Simply having the app coded to your requirements and releasing it onto the Android and iOS app stores doesn’t mean users will instantly download the app, engage with it or even have a good experience with it. Working with a developer that can provide strategic consultancy around marketing, engagement, performance and management on top of building the app to your requirements will be essential to its success.
Article by Rob, Sandbach, Managing Director of Indiespring