If the last fifteen months have taught businesses anything, it’s that an online presence is no longer an optional extra. Even the smallest of businesses will have done better through the pandemic by boasting some platform online. Apps can be a key part of that digital footprint.
That said, the decision to start an app development project should not be taken lightly. Even if in principle the case seems clear, proper planning is still critical to success. In this, of course, app development is like any other project requiring management: key questions must be asked, and goals and performance indicators identified if it is to deliver on its potential.
For any app development project, these core considerations remain fairly consistent. They revolve around who will use your app, and what for. Precisely understanding what the apps need to do, and for whom, is especially important for apps: they are at their best when they are focused tools that do one thing well. This takes disciplined planning.
So who is the target audience? Define your typical user and understand why they would want or need your app. What solution does it apply to your target user’s life? Arrive at as granular an apprehension of your target audience as possible: segment it if you need to and pay close attention to the benefits your app will provide to each potential user type.
This will help you decide: what is the main functionality of the app? Your business probably supplies a range of services to your clients. Your app may – perhaps should – choose to narrow this offering down to a core offering. Does it provide information? Easy purchases? A productivity tool? Attend to your target audience: whatever they need is what the app should specialise in. Don’t overcomplicate things.
Don’t neglect the question of how you intend to monetise the app. Will the app require users to pay to download it? Will it operate a subscriber model? Or will it be free and rely on in-app sales – or even third-party advertising? In the rush to solve your target users’ problem, or increase your brand’s online footprint, don’t miss the opportunity to raise revenue: your app can be a powerful new source of income for your business – an investment, not just an expense.
On the topic of your brand, have you got a name or brand already? Your business may well have one if it is already established – but should your app have a separate or complementary identity, rather than simply “piggy-backing” on a pre-existing brand? Are you seeking to expand your business’s customers – in which case, a new brand may help – or simply serve your existing customers better? The identity of your app matters – it will drive downloads and user experience. Put as much thought into this as you do your code.
Finally, of course, you need to consider the competition. Are there other similar apps already out there that you are aware of? If there are, what will make your app different? Why will your target users download your app over others, how can you give this new offering the edge? If you’ve done the right preparation on the other questions, at this stage you should have a great USP already – but double-check you do. Apps perform in a market, just like all your other offerings.
Users, functionality, brand, competition: these four pillars of app development will help you devise a great tool for your customers from day one. And ultimately, achieving that is what you need to consider when starting an app development project.