One look at the current business news and you find that tech-based startups are constantly cropping up every day. The incoming news of successful app entrepreneurs making successful mobile apps seem like a cakewalk but here’s what they don’t tell you.
How do you make a successful app?
For every successful mobile app that makes it big, there are hundreds that fail to leave a mark and quietly disappear into oblivion.
Successful apps are drawing millions in funding but what about the millions of apps that didn’t make it through to the finish line? Millions of app entrepreneurs who didn’t even get back their investment, leave alone a return on their investment!
Making a successful app requires a significant investment of resources in terms of both time and money. Following a strategic roadmap that starts at conceptualization of the app idea and culminates with marketing and launch of the product is critical for the development of a robust mobile application that provides a stellar user experience.
With extensive experience in partnering with entrepreneurs and helping them build and scale successful mobile applications, we have learned a lot about what goes into the development of a mobile app that ensures market success.
Diving headfirst into app development without a strategy in place seldom works. While the journey may vary for each entrepreneur, following through this guide would surely keep you on the right track.
Here is a 10 step process that the best entrepreneurs followed which resulted in the development of bankable mobile applications that the users wanted to download and ended up getting hooked on to.
Related Read: Detailed hospital app development guide.
1. Coming up with the app idea
Getting started is often the most difficult leg of any journey and entrepreneurship is no different. The start of a successful product journey always starts with a problem that needs to be solved. Identification of the problem and conceptualization of the app as a solution to that problem is the key to the development of a successful mobile application.
Having an app idea isn’t enough. You need to be passionate about it as well. Building a business requires a significant investment. The journey is full of ups, downs and unexpected turns that may require you to pivot. You will only be able to weather out the obstacles and emerge victorious if you are passionate about the idea in the first place.
The idea can stem from your own experiences or from your observation of other’s experiences. Once you have identified the problem, start digging at it. Try to identify the causes and hypothesize the ways you could address the issue and provide a solution.
Your app should be aimed at solving the problem while making the life of the customer much easier, more productive and should leave them feeling amazing!
The competition in the app market is fierce and the chances are that you likely won’t get the first mover advantage. Existing solutions to the problem identified may already exist.
A number of successful apps today weren’t the early innovators. Similar applications already existed but still they succeeded because they managed to provide more efficient solutions to the users.
The most relevant example that comes to mind is that of Clear. The beautifully designed app entered a cluttered market filled with other to-do list apps that had a hundred different feature offerings.
The insight behind creating this app was that the user when creating a list of things to do just wants to create that to-do list. How can it be made simple and quick for the person to record their lists or thoughts?
Your idea doesn’t need to be complicated or have a complex solution. Instead, work on a solution that simplifies complex ways to solve a problem.
2. Validation of the app idea
In the insanely competitive market, a day gone is an opportunity lost so the drive to move fast is pretty high. It’s intensely tempting to start working on developing your app as soon as the idea first strikes but validating the concept before getting started with mobile app development is extremely important. The validity and viability of your idea are the first indicators of your app’s success.
Is it just you who feels there is a need or have you actually validated the need for your product among your target audience? How many people, unknown to you, have you walked up to and asked questions that may lead up to them articulating the problem that they’re facing. Would your target audience be willing to move to a solution that you are working on?
The key to building a successful app is to find the product market fit. What this means is that there really is a need for your product in the market and that customers will be willing to give up whatever they currently are using to download your app.
Speaking of target audience, knowing the target demographic your product is aimed at helps in answering the how’s, who’s and the why’s of your idea providing better clarity in the long run.
Documenting the demographic metrics such as age, gender, location, interests etc helps you formulate buyer personas of target users which plays an important role in the marketing strategy for your app.
3. Defining the minimum viable product
Once you’ve identified how to solve a problem, begin by identifying what you want to launch in the first version of your app as a minimum viable product. Typically, the first version should offer the core value of your app.
The feature that is a ‘must have’. Leave out the nice-to-have features for a later update. The additional incremental features can be added in the subsequent iterations.
Again, to quote Clear app’s example, they launched with just the simple to-do list feature and with a later update, they added the reminders feature. The latter one was not part of the core value of the app and was scheduled for a later release.
Based on the target demographic, you can choose the mobile platform that your app would be targeting in the initial phase – Android or iOS.
Related Read: A complete guide to healthcare app development
4. Designing the UI/UX
The user experience and interface design needs to begin with wireframing and prototyping. A wireframe is a visual blueprint that outlines the framework of the app. Wireframes and prototypes need not be too fancy.
A simply sketching out the app framework on a piece of paper may also do the trick. In case you do want to go that extra mile, there is no dearth of easy to use prototyping tools that you can choose from.
Such workflow helps you brief your designer and developer to create the app, while giving you a great deal of clarity.
The UX design of the app plays an important role in determining the kind of experience app users have. Focus on an aesthetically pleasing design for stellar user experience. Following the mobile app design fundamentals for user interface design enhances the chances of your product being successful on the app store.
5. Developing the app
Prototyping the app design makes the design to development handout easier and makes the communication of the specs that you want to be included convenient. It also helps give product clarity to you as well as the app developers you have hired.
Majority of founders, irrespective of whether they hail from a tech or non-tech background prefer to hire a team of developers to develop their app. Launching a successful product in the mobile app market requires lots of efforts.
Distancing themselves from the core coding process frees the entrepreneurs to look at other business requirements. Depending on the resources available, you could hire a developer or outsource the development to an app development company.
While your involvement in writing the lines of code may be limited, the responsibility of taking the high-level business decisions still lie on your shoulder.
At the front end of app development, you need to decide whether you need a platform-specific native app or whether a cross-platform or hybrid app development is more suited to your needs. At the back end, decisions regarding the programming language, framework and tech stacks that meet the requirements have to be considered.
Mobile app design and development are two crucial steps in building a great app and hiring the right team to partner with you on your quest has the potential to make or break the journey.
Related Read: A detailed telehealth app development guide
6. Launching the app
Once you are done with development and testing of your app, it is time for the deployment. Every year thousands of apps get released on the app stores and a huge chunk of them never reach the limelight because the users fail to discover them in the first place.
The app development process yields success only if the mobile app manages to reach a significant audience.
How do you ensure a successful app launch that gets people to notice your app? The answer lies in app store optimization. ASO makes it easier for your target audience to search for your app on the app store by targeting and making use of the relevant keywords.
7. Marketing and promotion
The marketing plan for promoting the mobile app is something that needs to start during the early stages of your app development journey. You need to create a buzz around the product for the people to get to know it and the stakeholders to be interested in investing in it.
Your app marketing strategy should make use of numerous communication channels such as social media pages, your personal website as well as blog.
Allocate a budget for promotion of your app. Attracting the first batch of users in the form of early adopters that can test the metrics and give valuable feedback can only be possible if you proactively reach out to potential customers via marketing channels.
Promotion strategies should ideally be a part of your market research and should facilitate reaching out to the target customers via the appropriate channels.
8. Dialogue With Early Adopters and incorporating feedback in subsequent updates
Feedback is very crucial at the stage where you have early adopters for your app. Your first customers are the best source of feedback for your application so contact them and start talking. The insights from the actual user base will give you direction for your next update.
Everyone talks about customer service, but no one understands the gravity and importance of it, or even the right way to do it. 80% of companies said they believe that they deliver superior customer service, but only 8% of customers think these same companies deliver. Ninja-like customer support is crucial because happy customers often spread the word.
“Customer support is the very rare opportunity to connect to your customers on an emotional level,” says Buffer co-founder Leo Wildrich. “You can’t do that in any other way,” he adds.
9. Performing the Analytics
Building a successful mobile app seldom is a one shot success. It requires numerous revisions and incorporations of new features on the basis of user feedback to deliver what the users want. How do you figure out what is working and what isn’t in the mobile app? This is where mobile app analytics comes into the picture.
Analytics helps you keep track of app downloads and collects useful metrics regarding the app performance and user engagement with the app.
You can get to know the areas where the maximum user interaction takes place within the app, whether some areas are experiencing issues and are loading slower than the rest and whether the overall app functionality is as good as expected.
Identify the areas of deficit and work on improving upon them in the future updates to ensure utmost user satisfaction and customer retention.
10. Ensuring user engagement
You mobile app managed to get the attention it deserved and you got rewarded with a number of downloads. Contrary to the other fields, in the mobile app space, this isn’t what triumph looks like. It’s merely the beginning.
The actual victory is managing to keep the user engagement high by providing constant value. The app users should not end up uninstalling the app due to lack of engagement.
How do you keep the users engaged? Glad you asked! The secret to user engagement lies in the basics of human psychology. Keep giving them incentives to keep them hooked to your product.
“Having rewards in mobile apps increases user retention and app favorability. We have a study to prove it!”, says Brian Wong, the founder of Kiip and once the youngest person ever to receive venture capital funding.
Focus on providing true value to the customers constantly and incessantly and you have the recipe for a successful mobile app on your hands.