Developing a mobile app is a complex process that involves technical knowledge, product strategy experience, and good old organizational skills. Here are the basic questions you have to answer before developing a mobile app. Learn what to know before developing an app.
Mobile apps might be used by billions of users multiple times a day, but would your business actually benefit from an app?
In other words, do you have business goals, especially long-term ones, that a mobile app would support?
A mobile app should solve an existing problem that’s been vetted and — more importantly — verified to generate a demand for a solution.
How to know if your business needs an app?
For example, besides an in-depth business analysis, you can also check your website analytics to learn if your customers would find value in a mobile app.
If your website is seeing a lot of mobile traffic, seize and analyze this data. Maybe you could create an app that delivers what your users are coming for to your website via their mobile phones. Check traffic sources and events in your analytics software to gain insight.
An app might also support an upcoming event your business is hosting. With an event-focused app, you can breathe more engagement for users and facilitate communication between participants.
It all depends on the complexity of your app.
When you lack programming skills, you can consider using low- or no-code platforms to build a simple app. That said, low- or no-code solutions still call for a level of experience, but the entry threshold is lower than that of traditional programming.
So if you need an app that will support internal company processes for employees, low-code solutions can help build one that addresses simple tasks and workflows. Similarly, no-code platforms can also be used to build e-commerce shops.
But again, there’s a learning curve — getting enough expertise will take some time. And if you need complex programming to add additional functionality to your app, some serious skills are required, code or no code involved.
Also, low-code development doesn’t completely eliminate the need to hire a developer, but it can immensely support your dev team and let them focus on creating solutions for complex business processes.
And while you can take the time and effort to build a mobile app in a no-code platform, the technical side of an app is only one part of the story.
To build, release, and maintain a successful mobile application, you’ll need experience in idea validation, data analytics, and product design just to name three.
A mobile app agency brings experience galore to the table. You get the expertise of people who went through the process of idea validation many times before and know what to do to make an app pick up on the market — sometimes do it without writing a single line of code.
Still, if you decide to pursue the process of mobile app development on your own, be sure to first validate your idea extensively using tools such as the lean canvas.
You can start with an agency to get your product going. Once it begins to take shape, proceed building an in-house team that will take over the product later.
The upside of outsourcing mobile development is that you can release your app much faster. Building an in-house team involves the lengthy process of recruitment, onboarding, team alignment, and process shaping. It also generates additional expenses for hardware, payroll, office space — if your product fails, you’ll also have to lay people off. With an agency, you just end the contract.
To make sure you pick the right mobile app company, check their portfolio and the apps they built. The agency can advise on development and design and put together a team of specialists quickly.
When you have an in-house team but lack specific talent which you need only to do a single task — for example, to consult on architecture or specific features such as augmented reality — consider staff augmentation.
To develop a mobile application, you’ll need to be able to do at least one of the following:
But building an app is only a portion of all the work that goes into creating a marketable digital product.
To create and release a successful digital product, you’ll also need:
Well, it depends. We’re all too familiar with the mantra “90% of startups fail and 90% of mobile apps are abandoned after a single use.” Even though these statistics paint the state of things quite accurately, they don’t mean it’s not worth building mobile apps.
In fact, if your product solves for your target audiences and takes care of a problem better than the competition, then there’s a real chance your product can be scalable and profitable enough to stay on the market long-term.
The key is to always validate your product through proof of concepts, prototypes, and minimum viable products as well as extensive user research. This way, you’ll be releasing a product that is desired and generates demand.
If you want to release your app to the app market, consider taking care of maintenance and support.
Even after extensive Q&A testing during development there are still bound to be bugs in your app — your users will be evaluating your product more intensely than any tester. Because of that, make sure to give your users an easy option to share feedback or reach out for support.
Bug fixes and feature addition need to be planned and tested thoroughly to ensure seamless integration. That’s why behind the majority of successful products stands a team of experienced developers and QA testers that expand, test, structure, and secure the app — on an ongoing basis.
Also, use a reporting tool to keep track of customer tickets — this will help you aggregate data on required changes and improvement suggestions for the next iterations of your product.
During your product’s lifecycle, it might happen that you’ll need to change a development agency. In that case, you should ensure a smooth transition from one mobile app development company to another.
The first thing to do during a transition is to collect all data that pertains to your application. This includes the source code, documentation, databases, along with access information to each.
A project handover requires a close partnership between your team and the company. It’s critical to schedule as many meetings as is necessary to transfer project-related knowledge and documentation. All questions you have should also be addressed by the software agency.
Security is of utmost importance. Ask for access to credentials used to access different development environments, integrated third-party software, etc. Once you have the credentials, make sure you control them — no one should be able to change them unless you give permission.
Still, even after all those meetings, there will most likely be uncertainties and unanswered questions — schedule consultations to get answers.
Last but not least, if you’re not switching to your in-house team but hiring another agency, it’s good if the new agency is involved in the handover of the project. Especially large applications require developers to gain deeper insight into the code and processes.
Getting the funding for your app can be achieved in several ways.
Build a proof of concept (POC) and/or a prototype and show it to a select number of investors to get seed funding. A POC or prototype will consume much less initial resources than an MVP of your app, letting you push out your idea to potential investors in a more visually appealing form.
If your idea solves problems present in a specific industry or niche, reach out to companies and investors whom your product could help. Keep in mind that investors usually want a share in your product.
Use a crowdfunding platform. If your idea solves a real problem, you’ll likely get the funding you need. For example, AAWireless enables wireless connection between a mobile phone and car infotainment system supporting Android Auto. Crowdfunding made the creation of the device possible.
Whichever option you choose, be prepared to pitch your idea to an audience. That’s why it’s critical to know as much as you can about your product, the problem it solves, and the people and industry it helps.
Before the development beings learn as much as possible about the process and the strategy involved in mobile app development. Know your goals and objectives to determine the skill set you need and the type of cooperation (external developers or in-house capacity). Secure funding and analyze your long-term product strategy to be better at predicting outcomes.