Avoid These Common App Development Mistakes

by Shantal Erlich
Blog Post

Are you on a quest to develop the “perfect” app?

Most people getting an app developed have goals for it to be a wild success, but in a highly competitive market, of course that’s not easy. Successful apps readily come to mind because they tend to be so prolific, however the large number of unsuccessful apps are not so easily recalled.

What went wrong for those apps which were unsuccessful? There are a variety of culprits and it’s important to be able to look at some of the common mistakes made so that you’re not doomed to repeat them.

Here are some of the most common app development mistakes:

#1. Not Prioritizing User Experience

You’d think this was a completely obvious point, right? Yet it’s amazing how many apps blatantly haven’t considered the user experience before being unleashed into the world. Who is your target audience and what do they expect from an app?

An app user experience begins with mobile in mind and your target audience at the center. Usability should be a focus, as should prioritizing features which are really important to users. These days, users expect apps to follow a set of norms in terms of how intuitive they are to operate and how quickly they can achieve what they need. If you don’t carefully consider these factors in your user experience, you’ll find that users simply give up.

Your entire design process should be wireframed for clarity and you should always remember the importance of usability testing.

#2. Not Considering the Platform Properly

How did you decide which platform or platforms to build on? If you went with a “gut” feeling that the platform you chose will be the best for monetization, this is often where problems start.

Each app platform has its own nuances, features, possibilities and audience, if you haven’t accounted for these differences you may find you’ve made the wrong choice. There have been a number of apps which failed more as a consequence of “right app, wrong platform.”

When you’re making a platform decision, you need to consider each alternative and importantly, those platforms which are most likely to meet your desired audience. For example, at first glance, Blackberry with 0.31% market share might seem like a poor choice for creating your app, however, who is your target audience? Blackberry is dominated by the enterprise/corporate market so if those people are your customers, it may be worth a second look.

Blackberry customer chart

Blackberry’s declining share of shipments may make them look like a poor choice at first glance, but are your customers who they are shipping to? Source: Statista

#3. Too Many Features

Many app creators are tempted by the idea that packing something with features will make it invaluable to the customer; unfortunately, this is not so. Unsuccessful apps which try to pack in too many features often suffer from the following problems:

  • Lack of prioritization of features so they don’t necessarily hit the mark for the customer.
  • Users are left confused by a busy interface.
  • There are lots of mediocre features rather than a few important, well-developed features.
  • Users don’t use many of the features anyway and end up looking for a simpler solution.

As pointed out by James Wallman in a feature for Forbes, there is a growing movement towards minimalism and a rejection of the “more is better” idea. He coined the term “stuffocation” for the feeling people get when they feel burdened by too much “stuff.” By the same logic, people generally want an app to simplify something in their life, not to add extra layers of “stuff.” Keep this in mind when creating your app what are the real key features to have?

#4. Not Keeping Mobile in Mind

If you began your app idea by thinking you could perhaps shrink down what you have on your website and call it “mobile”, then the chances are you’ll create a dud. That kind of thinking was common five years ago, but progress has happened fast. The expectations are that apps begin and end with mobile in mind.

Mobile apps are fundamentally different from websites. People interact with them differently and again, have different expectations. Think about why someone might choose to use your app over your website; they’re probably out on the go somewhere, right?

OK, so what is it that people may need to achieve with your app while out and about?

Remember, what makes an app valuable to a user tends to be its differences from your website. If you think about a mobile banking app as an example, usually you’ll want to complete some kind of transaction, right? You want quick, clear menus and easy click or swipe options. Banking websites are much more feature-packed. They house product information, statements and a host of functions which aren’t necessarily available on mobile, perhaps because they’re less common. The website itself also tends to be much more cumbersome to navigate.

The better solution for your mobile app is often just to start from scratch. It doesn’t need every feature your website has so sorting out what will be the most important should be at the top of your list.

#5. Lacking Clear Purpose

How will your app stand out from the thousands of others in the app store? If you’re unclear on who your target audience is and how your app will appeal to them, your lack of clear purpose will probably harm your chances of attracting downloads.

Your app shouldn’t be a “me too” because competitors are doing it and we’ve already gone way past the point where apps add an interesting curiosity to your business. Your app must serve a genuine purpose with a well-defined target user in mind.

There’s a saying often used among sales professionals that “a confused mind never buys” this is also very valid for apps. Know your purpose and know your target market.

#6. Testing Your Own App

There’s a very good reason not to be a key tester of your own app most creators are simply too close to the project to be able to give the most valuable insights. On the other hand, third-party testers are usually your best source of actionable feedback, particularly if you’re careful about selecting testers who fall within your target market.

Testers who are not close to the project tend to be the best for letting you know any issues, such as when steps are not clear, or if any function in the app is clunky. It’s usually much more difficult for anyone closely involved with the design and creation of an app to pick out any high-level flaws.

App development mistakes testing


#7. Poor Communication

This is particularly an internal issue, such as between stakeholders and internal or external development teams. Poor communication can add significant costs to development projects and delays to completion.

It’s always better to set up a good communication system from the beginning of the project so that everyone who needs to be is updated on progress. Most companies don’t have the budget for endless iterations and you don’t want to end up putting something out which isn’t up to spec because you ran out of time or money.


#8. Poor Marketing

Despite the hoards of options available in app stores, many app owners make the mistake of thinking an app is so good it will simply sell itself. Many good ideas have been killed due to poor marketing and the sad thing is, a competitor will probably notice, pick up the idea and market it better than you did.

Before launching your app, you should have developed a comprehensive marketing plan, including deciding on what your key metrics will be for monitoring. You might also look at:

Failing to have a good marketing plan or simply having a poor one can sink your app before it’s really had a chance to start

Avoid Those Mistakes…

The mistakes outlined are some of the most common found in apps which have failed to take off. Some of these are really quite basic mistakes to make, so we would always suggest beginning your development with a good plan in place which tackles these key areas.

Most importantly, be clear on your purpose and keep the target user at the center of your app. If you are clear on “why” and “who”, your customer will be too.

Koombea creates very successful apps following a robust process. Talk to us today about your app development needs.

by Shantal Erlich
Blog Post