This is an amazing time. You, as a business owner, can take your company and literally put it in the pocket of your customer. Mobile devices are dominating growth in computing and mobile app development is an indispensable part of that.
How can you leverage this opportunity for your business?
What will ensure the project’s success?
What’s the difference between iOS, Android, or a webapp?
A mobile app allows you to put your company and your brand exclusively in front of your customer where you control the experience no matter when or where. Here are some tips based on our experience to help you get there.
Create your MVP
Start small with what’s called an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product. Eric Ries popularized the concept with the Lean Startup. The core of it is to take The Huge Idea and find out what it does immediately, then iterate. Being able to frequently “push” updates to users instead of repeatedly asking them to download an update makes this an efficient and time-tested concept.
The goal is to test assumptions right away by getting the foundation of an idea in front of the target audience. This allows for the following:
Efficient Use Of Budget: You’re only spending resources on a proven direction
Early Feedback: Your target audience will be using your application early on in the development cycle
Valid Proof of Concept: Getting the core idea out to market early can give validity to the concept before more development is done
It may seem counter-intuitive when you have this huge idea, but good amount of any given project can be narrowed down to just the necessary items to go to market. An MVP does not mean a limited app. It means putting the core product to market to guide the direction of the rest of the application.
Know Your Market
Audience research is paramount when developing a new application. When putting something to market that’s been untested, you can never be sure you really know what your audience’s needs and wants are until you do the research. “Trusting your gut” isn’t enough here.
Your mobile app is going to have to compete for time not only against your competition, but for every other app that person has on their phone. In a matter of seconds your user can become bored with your product, switch to another app or worse, delete it entirely.
Understand and know the types of problems your audience has. What are their likes and dislikes? What’s their main issue you’re trying to solve? What do you offer that the competition doesn’t?
These are just a small sample of the answers you’ll want to make sure your app is a success.
Use What You Have
You may not need to start from scratch with this app. Logo, design files, stock photography, these elements can be reused and repurposed for your mobile app.
Maybe you have an existing customer base you can tap for feedback or to jumpstart the launch. Do you have a networking group? What about your other employees or business partners? Your mobile app may have never existed before, but the pieces you can use to build it probably already do.
Understand The Different Platforms
iOS, Android, and Web. Most of our clients want an application developed for one or more of these platforms, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses:
iOS: Robust code framework and testing environment mean that testing and quality control is cleaner and takes up less time. However, Apple is the only manufacturer of iOS devices and they only allow certain apps through their only distribution network; The App Store. If your app idea is outside their goals even a little, there is nothing that can be done. iOS is Apple’s world
Android: Google’s Android platform is far more open and the initial investment is much lower. However, due to the open nature of Android, there are a variety of devices, screens, and carriers to consider when developing. Testing and quality control takes much, much longer with Android and could use up a significant portion of the project.
Web: The most open of the three. Web apps can be used on any device that has a modern browser. Updates are instant and immediate for all users, and you control the entire experience. The downside is these web apps aren’t installed on the device so they’re limited in functionality. The tools available are expanding for web apps all the time, but they will always lag behind on what a native app can do.
Promotion and Distribution
Developing the app is one part, next comes promoting and distributing it.
For Consumer Applications:
Promotion is going to almost always mean installed on the Android or iOS app stores. For iOS, this is a necessity. You can promote your application outside the Play and App stores, and we actively encourage it since you can link directly to your app from these sources instead of trying to rise above millions of other apps in these stores.
Distribution is taken care of for you. Pushing updates is simple and you don’t even have to process transactions. Apple and Google will be happy to do that for you. With iOS and now somewhat with Android, there is a review process for every update and new app – this lag can be a nightmare if it’s delaying a critical update. Web Apps won’t have this problem; updates are immediately, like a web page.
For Enterprise Applications:
If this app is for your own business, then promotion is a simple memo away. If it’s an integral part of your business’ strategy, then Promotion is the least of your worries.
Distribution becomes a bit trickier with an Enterprise application. The tools that exist for massive corporations are robust and tested, but they don’t filter down to the small-medium sized business. Distributing a mobile app to only a handful of enterprise users without using the App or Play store will probably mean setting up your distribution network. A web app doesn’t need a distribution network; it just needs to be updated in one place and every user sees the new features.
In the end, your mobile app starts with an idea. Everything beyond that is what takes that app and makes it successful.