Thinking about developing a web or mobile app for your business? The benefits are countless. Here are just a few:
Apps can help with brand recognition as customers see your logo every day and receive your push notifications.
Apps can help you get to know your customers better. Instead of sending out a survey, you can monitor how customers interact with your app. How often do they use it? When do they use it? What products and features are they most interested in?
Apps can also cultivate customer loyalty. Let’s say you’re offering your clients some handy new tool to save them time or money. Everytime they use it and reap the rewards, they’ll build trust in your company. When people trust companies, they’re more apt to continue to buy from them than their competitors.
…and the list goes on.
If you’ve decided to cash in on these many perks, your next step is to hire an app developer to get you started. But before you do, you’ll want to do some soul searching as a company.
Ever tried cooking something without a recipe? Perhaps you aimlessly added a little of this and a little of that, but nobody wanted to eat the resulting dish–including you. The recipe gives you the vision you need and tells you exactly how to achieve it. Without it, there are no guarantees.
That’s what it will be like if you don’t pin down some key answers for what you really want in an app.
1. What’s the problem you’re trying to solve with your app?
People turn to apps to make their lives easier. RunKeeper stores all of the stats on your latest runs so you can improve speed and endurance. Pro Metronome helps musicians keep an even tempo. OpenTable lets you lock in your Saturday night dinner reservations so you don’t end up on the waitlist. What problem will your app solve for your target audience?
2. Is there demand for this app?
Once you decide on the purpose of your app, you’ll need to make sure there’s a market for it. Even if you think it’s useful, others may not.
Start by interviewing your customers to get a pulse on demand. If you think you have interviewed enough customers to get validation, go and interview another! When it comes to getting a return on your investment, you can never be too sure. It’s worth going to great lengths to make sure you’re working on something that people want.
Cold calls, surveys, and landing pages can also help you gauge the appetite for your app.
You’ll also need to check out the competition. Is someone else already solving this problem for your customer base? If so, how can you do it better?
3. How will this app benefit your company?
While helping your customers, your app should ultimately help your bottom line. There are different ways to do this:
● Brand Awareness. Having a customer see your logo frequently is certainly good for business. And they’re not just seeing your ad on some billboard on the side of the road; they’re seeing it on one of their most prized possessions: their computer or phone. You’ve made it into the inner circle!
If customers are seeing your app regularly, they’re becoming increasingly aware of your brand, and that builds trust. If their interactions with your app are favorable because it’s cool and user-friendly, bonus! That invites even more trust.
● Enhances customer service. Will your app allow customers to schedule an appointment with your company more easily? Order products in mere seconds? Get on-demand answers through chat bots? Anything that removes barriers to doing business with your company will have a positive effect on your bottom line.
● Opens your direct marketing channel. Retail apps can become the method of choice for buying from your company. Because they’re on your customer’s device, they stay top of mind. (It’s much better to see your presence every time they look at their phone vs. only when they walk by your shop at the mall.)
Apps can also notify customers of special offers that they can take advantage of at the push of a button. It’s a great way to increase sales.
● Provides value to your audience. I have a favorite app that makes it extremely easy to sign documents; scan them; re-order, add, or omit pages; etc. That free app opens the portal to subscription apps, which clearly benefits the parent company’s bottom line. It also creates loyal customers because it offers them something of value for free.
The last thing you want to do is invest time and money in an app that won’t bring any kind of a return so make sure you have clear expectations about how your app is going to boost business.
4. Do you have adequate budget to invest in your app?
A good app can cost from several thousands of dollars up to hundreds of thousands, depending on the special features and functionality.
Some people adopt the “something’s better than nothing” mentality, but we don’t agree. A thrown-together, glitchy app won’t help a company; in fact, it could hurt it if the people who use it come to associate your company with poor quality and frustration.
There’s also the mentality that you can build something rudimentary and fix it later. A good app comes down to code. If you skimp on the coding the first time around, your app will reflect it–and there’s rarely any way to fix crappy code. Most developers will tell you to scrap it and start again. Pay now…or pay MORE later.
As you consider your budget, remember that it’s better to have an app that works seamlessly with less features than an app with lots of features that work poorly. You want to delight your customers, not frustrate them
5. Which platform is best?
Looking for a web app delivered to the user via a browser? Or a mobile app (native app)? Your audience demographics really matter here. An app for engineers to use in the office? A web app is probably your best bet. An app to help teenagers find the best deals on clothes? Mobile is the likely choice.
Remember that each option has pros and cons. For example, one con for web apps is the installation process, which is still a huge roadblock for getting app adoption.
6. What’s your release/post-release plan?
For companies without an endless budget, we recommend an MVP release (minimum viable product). This means you create an app with strong code but only the most critical features for getting your product to the market. After that, start collecting performance and user data so you know which features to change, add, or omit.
A lot of companies make the costly mistake of engineering the heck out of an app prior to release–only to find that it is not resonating with the target audience. In the meantime, they’ve wasted all kinds of money creating a “perfect” product that punches below its weight. (This heavy engineering prior to release CAN work, but only if you know the customer extremely well and/or are able to focus on more closed door testing with lots of other customers. This exception can be just as effective, but it only works in certain cases.)
In most cases, it’s more cost-efficient to go “lean and agile.” Release a lean product, get feedback, tweak accordingly. Release a little more, and repeat the process. This will give you the leverage you need to control and monitor costs.
7. What can you do yourself and what do you need to outsource?
For starters, your app will need design and front and backend development. You’ll need a project manager (or team) to see it through development, release, and ongoing enhancements.
You’ll also need customer support to service your users. And don’t forget about marketing to make sure you have an audience for your app.
Decide what you can support and what you need to outsource.
For more information on hiring the best type of app developer (in-house, freelance, outsourced team, or hybrid), check out this article.
More questions on web or mobile app development? Contact Dazlab. We can guide you through the critical questions to ask internally before you dive into app development.
Embarking on app development is an introspective journey. This infographic roadmap guides you to define the app’s purpose, validate demand, align with customer needs, allocate resources, choose the best platforms, strategize release, and manage tasks. Ensure success by addressing challenges and fostering business growth through clear vision and careful planning.