Apps can transform businesses, there’s no doubt. They have a unique power to streamline and connect, and so it makes sense to explore every avenue in order to uncover how an app can help your processes.
That said, simply being sure that apps are a good thing doesn’t mean that any one particular piece of software is right for you. Designing an app blind is just as likely to leave with something not quite right as it is to gift an incredible tool – if not more so.
So what should you and your designers consider before diving head-first into app development? There are five useful steps to take.
Do you expect customers to use your service daily and while on the go? Do you want to use push notifications, so that users receive real-time reminders and information from you? Do you need to connect your software to other services? Do you want to rely on connectivity – in other words, your users being “always on”?
If you answers to any or all of these question is yes, then an app is the right solution.
Do some market research. Where are your users? If they are most likely to be using Android, then don’t build for iOS. Are they exercising whilst accessing your service? If so, accessing the power of wearable tech may well be the right answer. Thing carefully about where and how your app will be used.
The first iteration should be a free, key-features version of the app: don’t spend time building in extra functionality which will only complicate your initial offering. Build a strong identity around the problems your core product solves. It might be exciting to put loads of ideas into one app, but you will enter project creep, develop bugs and go over budget. Users adopt apps that make life easy. Simple is easy. You can keep them interested by adding additional tools later.
On the subject of keeping people interested, bear in mind that the app store gets millions of visitors everyday. Simply having an app available for download isn’t enough – whatever Kevin Costner said, when you build it, they don’t always come. Get on Facebook and Twitter, write a blog, stage an event, secure celebrity endorsement, conduct an advertising campaign: support your app by explaining to anyone and everyone how it makes their life easier.
You’d expect us to say this, but it’s honestly true. An agency should be able to do more than simply code. Their role is also in helping you understand your app’s market placement, looking at its competitors, and assessing its promotional needs and testing requirements. In other words, they need to be your partner – and that means you need to get on with them. So choose wisely.
OK. Have you got through every stage? Congratulations: you have yourself a viable project! Good luck!