Mobile Internet usage is skyrocketing. In 2017, it accounted for nearly 50 percent of online traffic worldwide. While billions of people are finding products and services through the mobile browsers on their smartphones, they now also access mobile apps on a regular basis.
As on-the-go browsing increases, it is important for every IT director and VP of Engineering to create a succinct mobile development strategy. In order to do so, there are several considerations that need to be addressed before a project can begin.
While having a good idea for an app is certainly a big part of the battle, it only is the beginning of the process. The following seven considerations will help your organization move from a bright idea to a secure and user-friendly finished product.
Know Your Audience
The first step in creating a useful app is to research and understand your target user. This is not only in terms of demographics but also user behavior. Start by working with your team to pinpoint the following information:
- User Country of Origin: Where do users live – and where will they access the app?
- User Age: How old is my target user?
- App Topic: What is the intent of the mobile application? i.e., is it for patients, retail consumers, or travelers?
- App Intent: Will it provide information, e-commerce, or a community?
Tools like Google Trends and Google AdWords will help you decide if you are unsure. Once you have this data, sites like Statista will pinpoint which OS and devices your target audience uses the most, based on demographics.
Involve the App Development Team
There are various approaches and techniques that can be used to develop a mobile app, depending on its intended device and OS. There also are different requirements for launching your app on various app stores. For these reasons, your development team must be involved in the process early to make sure your concept will reach your target audience effectively. This not only saves money but also increases efficiency.
Your mobile app development team should help you determine and decide which approach is best for:
- Device Optimization and Performance: Will your application idea perform well on an iPhone, Android smartphone, or tablet? What are the functional, design, and user experience limitations for each device option? Does this coincide with the OS and devices your target audience currently is using?
- App Security: A skilled development team will evaluate your proposed internal and external devices and applications for safety. They will determine if you already have or need to invest in, strong server-side controls, efficient transport layer protection, proper device storage, and appropriate binary protections. These elements will help ensure you and your users are less susceptible to hacking and malware.
- OS Optimization and Performance: Whether your app is on iOS, Android, or both, your team should be well versed in OS security guides and code samples to ensure your organization is using the most up-to-date prevention and gardening tools. iOS optimization and performance are more complicated than Android. This needs to be considered when creating a security review plan.
- API Security: Your app will likely use various application programming interfaces, also known as APIs, to communicate between various software components. The development team you choose should be able to check and double check security options and features for each API in transit and at rest. This helps validate who is using services and will also limit sensitive data to memory.
They should also be well versed in how to build an app using agile methodologies. Each component of app development should be performed with an agile development process, which ensures rapid yet accurate design, build, and release events. This approach also provides greater communication and cohesion between their project teams and your company.
The Importance of Testing
While website development is no easy task, creating a secure and user-friendly app is often more difficult. Testing is a required part of the quality assurance (QA) process, which means designing and building your application could take longer than expected.
This is one of the additional reasons to involve a development team in the process as early as possible. Publishing a flawed app and fixing it later will cost more money and lead to a longer project length than getting the app right the first time. Launching an application that is not ready for the user can also lead to issues in terms of trust and adoption.
No matter what type of app you are building, your team should already have strict and tested QA methodologies in place. These include testing of the following functional and non-functional issues:
Prepare for Maintenance and Updates
Even after your app is published on the App Store or Google Play, consistent maintenance and updates are required. Involving your development team in the maintenance process after your app goes live can help address a variety of issues and challenges, including:
- Emergencies: Is your app down or offline without cause? Since they built the software, your team of developers can quickly detect and fix the errors.
- New User Requirements: Updates in functionality can make using the app a more pleasurable and rewarding process. Developers can complete function modifications and helpful changes to source code without affecting the software’s behavior.
- OS/Hardware Adaptations: Apps must stay compatible with devices and operating systems. An ongoing relationship with a skilled development team will ensure computability with the latest Apple or Android modifications or installations.
- Fault Fixes: Nearly every app will experience a bug reported by users. A regular maintenance plan ensures an expert is there for you if design, coding, or application logic changes need to be made quickly and efficiently.
Stay Lean and Agile
Your lean and agile development team will ensure users always enjoy fast loading times, low mobile data usage, and quick reachability of your application’s information. Lean methodologies will also help:
- Eliminate wasteful features well ahead of publishing
- Build the most quality user experience before it hits the market
- Approach app development by optimizing the entire process, instead of improving features piece by piece
Agile methodologies make sure:
- User and customer satisfaction is the top priority
- The development pace is rapid yet sustainable
- Technical excellence is at the forefront of the development process
- The app delivers products and services in the cleanest, most user-friendly way possible
Know Your Competition
While your app should be about the benefits afforded to the user, your company also needs to research the competition to determine what type of apps they are building, why they create them, and how they are engaging in the process. Pull out your list of company competitors and search for their apps on App Store and Google Play. Pilot the apps yourself, then read reviews on the store pages to learn what features users enjoy – and what parts of the experience they would like improved.
With this information, you can adapt your application to not only match the competition – but to serve your target audience in a more efficient and exciting way.
How to Monetize the App
Every business is ultimately creating their apps for one reason – to monetize them. Companies must consider the budget and maintenance costs of their application, as well as which methods will help them make money off of their users. Possible options include:
- Advertising: Many of today’s apps use banners, video, native, interstitial, and text ads to make a profit. While this method doesn’t force users to purchase the app, it does create distractions or pauses in the experience. For instance, users playing a game or watching a video may have to watch a 15-second ad in order continue with their competition. This can frustrate users but will not necessarily deter them if you provide a quality experience. Revenues range from approximately $0.25-$3.00 per eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions).
- Freemiums: Apps can be free upon download, but users will have to upgrade to get full access. This pay-to-use method allows some users to enjoy a slimmed-down version of your software at no cost, while others will enjoy the experience and pay to continue. While you won’t make money off of everyone, your users will not be turned off by having to purchase ahead of time or seeing obtrusive advertisements.
- In-App Purchases: Game developers do a great job of monetizing in-app purchases through play credits, character unlocks, and level unlocks. Again, not everyone will engage, but it is an effective and psychologically-based way to tantalize the user to enjoy more of your product. Talk to your development team about how in-app purchases would work for your industry or intent.
- App Installs: This is one of the riskiest options, as not everyone will be enticed to spend money on your app before they try it. However, if you have high user reviews from those who have already adopted it, more users may be encouraged to spend the money. You may create a niche audience, but you will secure revenue from everyone who uses your product.
Having a monetization discussion with your development team will help you budget your maintenance and update costs. It will also provide you with in-depth strategies of how to keep your users engaged and how to encourage them to make in-app purchases.
By keeping these seven considerations in mind, you and your developers will begin building a mobile application that both generates revenue and reaps the budget and efficiency benefits of a lean and agile development and maintenance process. If you are looking for a trusted partner, the iTexico team specializes in a lean user experience, design thinking, and design sprint to create sustainable and powerful apps that align with the goals of your business.