5 Questions to Guide the Design of your Mobile App

As app usage explodes, new devices are being introduced every month, from the iPhone 6 to phablets (phone-tablet hybrids) to smart watches. Companies looking to cash in on this trend are scrambling to develop their own apps.

Data from Localytics shows the average time spent using mobile apps is up 21 percent since this time last year.

Analytics firm Flurry found that Americans spend an average of two hours and 42 minutes on their mobile devices each day. 22 minutes are spent in the browser. Apps get the rest.

But before you get started designing your mobile app, ask yourself these five questions.

How you approach the development of your app could determine whether that app is a revenue driver or complete dud.

Question #1: What (simple) problem will your app solve?

It’s pointless to have an app if your target audience has no good reason to use it. It has to be a valuable, marketable product.

What’s the value proposition?

You need to define the problem and how your app is going to solve that problem. What is your app capable of doing better than or different from any other app?

In a nutshell, you should be able to clearly and concisely explain what your app does and more importantly why someone will want it. If this requires a long, complicated explanation, you need to be more focused, or the idea may not be as good as you originally thought.

Question #2: How is your app going to make money?

Before you invest in building and designing your app, you must first figure out a plan for monetizing it.

“If you build it, they will come” may have worked for Kevin Costner’s baseball field in the middle of nowhere, but it won’t work for your app.

You need a detailed, step-by-step marketing plan for getting your app in front of people and convincing them to download and use it. You should also determine the role of your app in your overall business plan.

If your app succeeds, how will you continue to develop, test, and market your app? From a service and technical perspective, how will you ensure that your app meets user performance expectations? And what will this cost?

It’s not realistic to expect to become a millionaire just because you drop $50,000 on version 1 of your app. But the app can be profitable if you have a good idea, a good strategy, and a good team.

Question 3: Do you have the resources to support your app?

Apps cost money. Building an app should be treated like any other business initiative or product launch. It’s not like building a website on a free online platform.

You need to spend money to develop, launch, market, manage and maintain your app – and do it well. You need to make sure it’s compatible with an ever-expanding landscape of mobile devices.

And remember, you won’t just release one version of your app. That app will be constantly evolving, improving, and adding new features and functionality over time to meet the needs of your users.

Question 4: What is your minimum viable product?

Based on your assumption of what the consumer’s problem is, what basic set of features is required to solve that problem? This is your minimum viable product.

Many companies try to do too much with version 1 of their app, which causes delays and costs more money…before they’ve proven their audience will buy into their app and become users. If you can remove a feature and still solve a customer problem, get rid of the feature.

At the same time, there’s a risk of not doing enough. If your product is too basic or doesn’t completely solve a problem, you can’t just expect to fix it in version 2.

There will be no version 2 if version 1 fails.

Yes, this is a delicate balance. Your app has to do enough to solve a problem, but not too much. Identifying your minimum viable product will establish the scope of what you should plan to build for version 1.

Question 5: Who’s on board to help you make this app successful?

This isn’t a DIY project, and it’s not a one-person project. There are a lot of moving parts that need to be perfectly balanced and orchestrated if an app is going to work well and launch successfully. A strong team is crucial to making sure your app is built well and your plan runs smoothly. This is just an example of the people you’ll need on board to create your team:

  • Product manager who knows what goes into building a successful app.
  • Experienced visual designer, app developer and a back-end developer.
  • Marketer who knows how to take your app to market.
  • Business manager who always has an eye on the bottom line.

Sure, you could try to hire all of these people yourself, but if you were remodeling your kitchen, would you try to find a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician and whoever else might be needed? Or would you hire a contractor with a built-in team?

Remember, building an app requires a cohesive team, not a bunch of disparate parts.

If you’re thinking of building an app for your company, contact us for a free consultation. We can talk about your ideas, make sure you understand the process, and help you build and manage an app that’s successful and profitable.


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