The mobile application market is expected to generate about $189 billion of revenue in 2020 and this number clearly indicates the popularity of mobile applications among smartphone users. We see mobile applications everywhere these days: in addition to entertainment, mobile apps have become a new norm for businesses as well. Users expect their favorite brands to have a mobile application and see the business as outdated if it does not have one.
The process of developing a mobile application is quite intricate and has many pitfalls and aspects to consider. Once you learn the basic do’s and don’ts you will be able to easily navigate through the development process and avoid the biggest risks related to the app’s development.
» The Do’s of mobile application development
First, let’s have a look at the essential things to keep in mind when designing an application. These things are crucial for any kind of application, be it a mobile game or a business app.
› Do preliminary research
The mobile app development industry is an incredibly competitive one as there are hundreds of new applications appearing in play stores every day. As well, the users’ demands and needs keep changing in accordance with the advancement of technology so this also sets the quality bar on a really high level.
In order to satisfy the users’ needs and stand out from the competition, you will need to do a lot of preliminary work. That includes research on:
• The market: what user groups are you planning to target and what are their main needs and wants?
• The competition: who are the biggest players out there and what are the values that they offer?
• The available resources: do you have all the necessary resources to realize your idea?
By conducting research, you will be able to clearly understand the required functionality of the application and also choose the right platform (or platforms). And the analysis of competition will give you an idea of what the users want and what might be missing in other applications that you can implement in yours.
› Find a suitable and reliable provider
It might be that you already have an in-house development team that will take over your mobile application project. However, a more common scenario is hiring a third-party provider.
Working with such a provider brings multiple benefits. Specialized development agencies (like SoftTeco) tend to be highly experienced since they focus on one niche only. As well, work with a third-party development agency is usually less costly than keeping an in-house team since you pay for the development services only.
However, you need to invest quite a lot of time into researching available options and finding the most suitable provider. Once you outline the desired platform and functionality, you can start searching for a provider. You might want to look for an agency that specializes in a specific platform or specific apps (hybrid app development, for example) or you can consider a one-stop company that has similar applications on its portfolio.
In either case, pay attention to the portfolio, do not hesitate to contact the past clients of this specific company, and require a personal meeting with a manager to clarify all the questions. In this way, you will also find out if it is comfortable for you to work with the team and whether you will be able to efficiently communicate and get along.
› Focus on user experience
User experience is the key factor that impacts whether users will love your app or uninstall it after a few minutes. User experience is the overall experience from interacting with the app and it includes design, ease of use, intuitive navigation, and many other aspects.
A well-designed mobile application should be clear and understandable to a user. It should seamlessly guide the user through all its areas and help find the desired information quickly and easily.
As well, do not try inventing something totally new if there is no need to. There are many design elements that users expect to find in certain areas of the app (i.e. a cart icon in the top right corner) so do not change these placements as users will simply get confused. While you are encouraged to play with styles and overall layout, retain these common elements the way they are.
› Implement ongoing testing
Development of a mobile application involves different testing stages, such as:
• Functional testing
• Load testing
• Connectivity testing
• Security testing
• Compatibility testing
Now, if you perform all the needed testing after the app is finalized and ready for launch, you might face serious issues. It might turn out that the app has critical security issues, that it does not function properly under certain connectivity conditions, etc.
To avoid the majority of issues and ensure that the final product functions across all platforms and under all possible conditions, you need to test the app continuously throughout the development process. In this way, you will be able to immediately identify the problem areas and timely fix them before the app is presented to the users.
› Focus on security
Mobile applications store an immense amount of sensitive data, from users’ names and addresses to their billing information. Security breaches have become quite an issue so in order to mitigate the risks and avoid the information pilfering, you need to pay utter attention to the app’s security.
The most common and obligatory practices for mobile app security are:
• Data encryption,
• High-level authentication,
• Verification of any third-party code,
• Enhancement of server-side security,
• Limited access,
• Regular app updates and security patches.
Of course, there is much more to mobile application security but these are the most common practices that keep your app safeguarded from external attacks.
» The Don’ts of mobile application development
Now that we’ve spoken about the basic do’s of mobile app development, it’s time to look at the biggest mistakes that many app developers make. By knowing about these pitfalls, you will be able to dodge them and reduce the risks of financial and resource losses.
› Do not develop an application that has no USP
It often happens that young companies (especially startups) try to develop a mobile application only for the sake of developing it and hitting a revenue goal. This is a completely wrong approach from the start.
The core point of developing a mobile application is to provide some sort of unique value to its potential users. Sure, as a product owner you want the app to bring you profit, but first and foremost it has to have a USP which stands for a Unique Selling Point. In order to determine it, it is recommended to study the competition and users’ needs and see what the competitors might be lacking that users want to see in the product.
› Do not overcomplicate the app
In an attempt to please the users, developers often overload the application with useless features in addition to its basic functionality. As a result, the app becomes too confusing, loads too slowly, and often have bugs and errors. As well, every added feature means additional cost which can eventually hurt your budget.
One of the methods to control the development and prevent the addition of useless features is to develop an MVP which stands for a minimum viable product. You can think of the MVP as of the product’s prototype that has only the basic core features. The main goal of MVP development is to test the product with real users and see what kind of features they need and which ones can be neglected.
› Do not forget about marketing
While some people underestimate the impact of marketing on the app’s popularity, successful business owners understand that marketing fuels sales. If you don’t inform people about the product, how are they going to find it in the store, where there are hundreds of similar applications?
Marketing creates the necessary buzz around the app, outlines its USP, and explains why people should try it. As well, you should invest not only in marketing but SEO as well as it helps rank the app in the search engine and make it more visible.
› Do not try to please everyone
When developing a mobile application, it’s easy to get carried away and try creating a universal product for all possible user groups and for all possible platforms. This is one of the most common mistakes so don’t fall for it – otherwise, you might face significant financial and resource losses.
Before starting the development process, you need to clearly define the app’s platform and its target audience. The choice of the right platform will facilitate the budget allocation and eliminate the need to redesign the app after it’s completed. As for the target audience, it’s better to have one or a few user groups whom you target. In this way, you will be able to identify the needed functionality more clearly without the need to go over the top.
› Do not forget about regular updates
Another common mistake that many business owners make is believing that once the app is launched, the work is done. However, mobile applications require constant maintenance and regular updates.
Updates serve several important functions. First, they enhance mobile security by consistently adding new security patches and fixing any problem areas. Second, they fix the current app’s issues and make it more user friendly and smooth in terms of functioning. Therefore, it is a must to constantly check whether your app requires a new update and what this update should include.
Mobile application development is an intricate process that demands careful planning and investment of time and resources. However, if done right, your mobile application can become the next big thing that will not only generate revenue but score the number one position in the app stores’ ranking.