How to create a great mobile app

Create your apps

In july 2013 on the 5th annivesary of the App store, Apple announced that over 50 BILLION APPS have been downloaded since it opened in 2008.

Apple claim that customers are downloading around 800 APPS PER SECOND.

Apple represents around 20% of the European smartphone market.

Whether you are looking to create an app to improve an internal company or an external app to improve customer interaction, this article provides the key points and considerations when planning and developing an app to help you ensure it is a successfull one.

N°1 – Be clear about why you are building an App

Identify exactly what your app is for, and what you want to achieve.
Is it to enhance the way your customers interact with you, to increase customer engagement, improve your brand presence, or generate revenue directly through paid dowloads, in-app advertising or in-app purchases?

If you just want your website available on mobile device, create a responsive website. An app should enhance and complement what your existing website offers, not just copy it.

Apps have many benefits :
– Provide a fast and efficient way for your customer to interact with you
– Increase customer engagement
– Improve brand presence
– Create new business and sales
– Promote you as an innovater in your field and they can also generate hard revenue directly through paid downloads

N°2 – Understand your target users

– Will the app’s users be web-savy or novices?
– What will their usage patterns be?
– When do you expect them to use the app, and for how long?
– Where will they have connectivity, and what mobile platformes and devices do they expect them to use?

The answers to these questions will help you to define and design your app to ensure it’s both useful and usable.

N°3 – What will it do?

The keys to a sussecfull app are :
– Simplicity
– Usability
– Reliability

Your app should be developed to meet a specific need, perform a specific task and complement your existing website and brand.

It’s better to launch a simple application that does one thing well, rather than one that does lots of things badly.

So the more detail you can add at this stage, the better it will help the develoment team to provide more accurate costings and delivery plans.

N°4 – Content matters

Apps are generally used in two ways :
– Consiming content or – Creating content

If you are consuming content, it is vital that you know where that content comes from, and how it gets into your app.
Whether the content is embedded into the application, or downloaded from a server has a massive influence on the size of the app, and the complexity of the code.
Embedding content makes apps harder tu update, but simpplifies the code. Downloading content remotely makes the code more complex, but updates easier.

N°5 – Design an intuitive UI

A good user experience is critical to success.
Expectations are high :
Users are accustomed to well-designed, functional apps, so counter-intuitive design will only hinder adoption.

It’s quicker, cheaper and easier to test a paper or HTML-based mock-up of a UI, than to fully-develop the application and then discover that the UI doesn’t work with real-world users.

Remember that users of an Android device do not expect apps to behave the same way as they would on an Apple device. Each platform has certain idioms which users become used to – so ensure your app fits useres’ expectations on the intended platforms.

N°6 – Choose your partner

You may have a compelling idea and a detailed brief but, if you’re new to app development, making it real can seem daunting.

You need to establish if you need to bring in a partner to undertake some, or all of the project.

The partner should be able to take you through concept creation and definition, user interface design, development, app testing, lauch, social media intergration, analytics and ongoing support to fix bugs and ensure compatibility with new platform versions and devices as they launch.

When choosing a partner, remember that developing an app is more than just programming.

Look at the partners’ Experience, Customers, References and ask how they will work with you : this interface will be a key factor in determining the app’s success. Also, be clear on what is and what isn’t included within the overall budget.

N°7 – What’s yours is yours

Unless agreed up front for “commercial reasons”, it’s critical that you launch the app under your company name, not the developer’s, to avoid confusing users and future complications. If you create a great app, it should have you brand all over it.

N°8 – Source code

Again, unless agreed up front, ensure that you own the source code. You’ve paid for it after all!
Make sure you actually receive it, as this gives you more options when it comes to maintenance and future releases.

N° 9 – After the launch

App is not just for christmass, unless you want it to be.

It could have a lifespan of several years, but will need updating to keep it fresh and functional on the latest devices and platform versions.

Ensure you have a roadmap for the life of your app, including support for new devices and releases.

Review your app’s app store rating to gather direct feedback from users – this will give you valuable insight for future update decisions.

N°10 – Marketing and Monetisation

With hundreds of new apps launching each day, it isn’t enough just to launch a great app and hope it gets downloaded – it won’t unless people knows it exists.

Plan the launch and promotion of your app with a strategy that fits within your overall marketing plan.

You will need to consider how to get your app to your customers – just via app stores, or by other means too?

Also consider pricing : inevitably, free downloads are more popular than paid ones, so you should onlyn charge if the app truly adds value through content or functionality.