7 things to know before you develop a mobile app

It’s sometimes hard to fathom that just over a decade ago, our lives were vastly different to what it is today; and this monumental change has been brought about by the propagation of smartphones and mobile apps globally. Today mobile apps are ubiquitous, in both developed and emerging markets alike, helping billions of people to communicate, collaborate and just about do almost anything that can be dreamt up. This upheaval does not show any signs of slowing though, and new mobile apps are finding unique and innovative ways in making lives better.  If you are reading this article, chances are you have a great idea that you think will make a great mobile app; then you are in the right place. Here is a list of seven key questions that you will need to consider before embarking on any mobile app development project.

1. Why are you building the app? 

Sure, you got a decent idea what you want to accomplish with your app, but when you are setting off a long-term venture such as this, it is imperative to carefully articulate the exact purpose of the app. Surprisingly, when it comes to this many have a vague picture, and if you don’t have a clear vision on the goals you want to achieve through the app, it will make things more difficult, down the line. 

2. What functionality are you going to offer?

Great, you have set out you vision, and your goals; now what? Well it’s time to begin looking at what features and functionality will be offered through the apps in order to achieve those goals. When formulating the features, you should prioritize the ones that will be most beneficial to your users. This is the point where a lot of research needs to happen, if it’s a consumer mobile app, look at competing apps on the market, what are the features that are being offered? What are the gaps that can be addressed?  What would be potential features that could be added to the app in the future?

3. Do you want a mobile app or a mobile friendly website?  

Sometimes it can be overlooked that a mobile friendly website (responsive website) can achieve the exact same goals that you set out, for a significantly lower price. So how do you decide whether you want an app or a website? If you primary concern is in reaching the largest possible audience with your content, for e.g. an online magazine an mobile website will suit your needs.  However, if there is a greater level of interaction and functionality that is required, such as push notifications, an app is the only way to go. In some cases, you might have to opt for both, to ensure that users are given the convenience of choosing the way they interact with your business.

4. Native or Hybrid? 

Its not a surprising to notice a few head scratches when this question is first brought up.  To put it simply, Native apps are mobile apps that are developed from the ground up specifically for a particular mobile operating system, such as Android or iOS. Hybrid apps are essentially web applications, wrapped in a native container, i.e. a single app is developed and can be ported across mobile operating systems. There are a number of pros and cons of both approaches. For instance, if your app requires access to a phone’s hardware features, such as GPS, camera etc. hybrid apps wont be able to handle them efficiently and you almost always have to develop natively. On the other hand if you are on tight budget, Hybrid apps will be more cost effective to develop, not to mention faster to get to market.  Conversely, Native apps tend to offer a better user experience.  Talk to your app developer and see what they recommend and see whether their choice aligns with the goals that you have set for the app. 

5. What are the development & running costs?

Another factor that is quite often misjudged are the costs of developing a mobile app and costs of keeping it running. Whilst it might not seem like it, mobile apps are significantly more expensive to develop than web sites and will also incur significant running costs depending on the complexity of the functionality. If for instance the app requires database connectivity, or payment gateway integrations, there can be substantial running costs involved. There are also other hidden costs that may not be apparent, such as the cost of submission to app stores, and for the development of a website to promote your app. Make sure you thoroughly research and budget all of these costs in the planning stages.

6. Which developer to go with?

When it comes to app development options, there a myriad of different app developer options available from freelance developers to large scale development outfits that come on board as technology partners. Such companies might get an equity stake in your new app venture or seek to come to a revenue share agreement on top of standard development costs. This will be costlier upfront, but you get a partner who will be more invested in the success of your app. Whilst freelancers will be cheap in the short term, they will not have the capacity or ability to make the app successful in the long term and as such the goals set out will often altogether be missed. Whatever type of developer you opt for, It will be crucial to select one who has had significant experience and exposure in developing apps for a range of different audiences and industries.  This will ensure that they bring a diverse set of skills and knowledge, to making your project a success.

7. How to make people use my app?

Great, you built your app, put it on the app stores and now you are waiting for the downloads to come in. Well it’s not so simple. You must have a marketing strategy in place to not just make users download the app, but to ensure that they keep coming back to it. This is where selecting an experienced app developer will help. Formulate a clear plan for app promotion before embarking on the app development itself, this way if there are design level changes that need to be made to the app, it can be done without incurring costly change requests. Most importantly it will lay the essential platform to ensure the app’s long-term success. 

Developing a mobile app is an exciting prospect, however there are many pitfalls that people must be vary off. Do plenty of research and fine tune the needs of your app as much as possible before embarking on any project. The best thing to do would be to seek professional help from the outset itself. Send us a message and tell us what your big idea is; one of our experts will work together with you in laying down the groundwork for a great app-venture!

Technology when done right, is simply an extenstion of one’s self. Together we hold the key to unlocking limtless possibilities.