Wanting an app is easy. In an increasingly mobile-dominated digital environment, it makes perfect sense to reach your potential customers through more ways than one, and a mobile app seems like a perfect solution. The more practical aspects of mobile app development, though, require more thought and planning. We'd love to help! If you want an app but don't know where to start, here are three things you should know before building your first mobile app.
1) Know Your Customers
Any effective marketing-related effort has to begin with your audience, and the process of developing a mobile app is no different. Before you even begin your app development process, you should know everything you can about your potential customers' behavior on mobile devices.
What is their preferred operating system? Would they really prefer an app over a more simple solution like a responsive website that adjusts its design based on their preference? How receptive would they be to the concept of native web apps or extensions that they can use without leaving their browser?
All of these are questions for which you should at least be able to make an educated guess on the answer. Getting that answer can involve surveys and even informal focus groups with your current customers, while you can glean some of the information (such as your customers' preferred mobile devices and operating systems) with a look at your analytics accounts.
2) Know Your Goal
Once you know what your customers want and need, it's time to figure out just what you want to accomplish with your app. This is, of course, intimately connected to the first question: knowing your customers will give you a better idea of what they expect from a mobile app.
But at the same time, pointing out the necessity of knowing your potential app's goal is worth its own point. Your app could function as a brand awareness-builder, a brand loyalty helper with an integrated reward system, or incorporate ecommerce capabilities.
Of course, there are many more possible directions for your app to go in, each of them requiring a different approach to get to the finished product. Establishing a singular goal and developing your app with that goal in mind will go a long way toward getting a polished and effective app that helps attract and retain customers.
3) Know Your Developer
Trust us when we say this: any app developer you work with will appreciate their clients coming in with answers to the first two points in this blog post. But at the same time, they'll be glad to help you figure out the direction of your app. Of course, that's where the similarities of app developers end.
As you may have noticed when you browsed through our website and past blog post, we are firm believers in the "agile" development process. That means breaking up a project such as your app into several different parts that can be developed at once, allowing for increased testing times and cost-effectiveness.
Of course, not every developer subscribes to this methodology. Others prefer a more traditional "waterfall" development process in which an app (or website) is developed in a more linear, step-by-step process. Understanding your developer's philosophy when it comes to app development is crucial to finding a partner that fits your needs.
If you're thinking about adding to your company's digital presence with a mobile app, you've made the first important step. Congratulations! Following the three above steps will help ensure that the rest of the process will go as smoothly as that initial decision. And if you need any additional help throughout your planning process, don't hesitate to contact us!