Developing and launching a HiTech app is a lot like other important life decisions. Don’t take shortcuts, keep your goals in mind, and be self-aware enough to learn from your (and others’) mistakes. Yes, during the app development phase there’s going to be a ton of hard work, and you’re likely going to have to learn how to do a lot of things that may be out of your comfort zone. You’re making an enormous bet on your future, so, if you want it to pay off big, you need an organized and well-thought out plan. Let’s take you through the various steps of developing a HiTech app, from ideation to launch (and beyond), so you can wrap your head around the whole process.
An Idea That Just Might Work
It all starts here. You’ve come up with an original idea for a mobile app that you think has a good shot at success. Great! Now take a few deep breaths and start researching. Market research is the perfect place to start, and the more you do, the more you’ll learn. Are there other apps in your space? Are they successful or failing, and why? What is your exact target audience? Read all the reviews, both professional and user-generated, and take detailed notes on the good and critical parts.
Is your idea unique, and does it solve any problems or pain points that others don’t? if not, surviving the saturated app landscape may be impossible. Ask for feedback from as many professionals and colleagues as you can, and be prepared to graciously absorb a lot of negative criticisms (hint: this may happen a lot, so toughen up!). In fact, this pre-development is so important that you may want to consult with a business analyst at a successful mobile app development partner. These initial consultations are often free, and having a team of experts assess market viability, product quality, and potential fatal flaws can save you a lot of time and money before you even start. Now you can start planning a time frame and potential budget for this project.
The ABC’s of UX and UI
Assuming your mobile app passed the initial sniff test, you are starting to get into the design/ development stage. Now, while you may require professional polishing on your design phase, you should be able to start your initial user experience (UX) plans. Underestimate the importance of UX at your own peril; poor UX is one of the leading reasons users uninstall, and that can apply to several stages of your app. Take note on how your favorite successful apps flow and look, and start building out a wireframe progression of the way you want your user to navigate your app. This should include both individual screens and layouts, and how a page to page navigation would look and feel to the user.
While UX and user interface (UI) may seem like very much the same thing, there are some crucial differences. Interface really just refers to the actual means by which the user interacts with the app, while experience takes into account all the other ways a user feels while using the app. Take a look at the Venn diagram below to get a better idea.
The UI, while a central presence in design, is only part of the bigger experience; content, sound design, and architecture all factor in to the aesthetic and emotional journey your user will go through. Remember, according to this survey, users uninstall at the highest rates between the first day and the end of first week of use. And, just like we eat with our eyes, we approach most new experiences visually. If it’s unattractive, clunky, or not easy to digest, you’ll likely be one of those first week casualties.
Here’s a quick look at basic UX/UI tenets to consider:
- Don’t hide: Hidden navigation (i.e. choices hidden in pulldown menus) leads to increased task difficulty, undiscovered content, and average time spent on each task, according to this data. Every second of the first impression counts, so make your tasks easy to find and use.
- Keep it Familiar: While you may have a brand-new innovative idea, that doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel. Time-tested and reliable UX/UI methods (like visual frameworks, navigation techniques, popular features, etc.) are actually more attractive to users, giving them familiarity and a lower learning curve to conquer; meaning, more users will stay with your app longer and not quit out of frustration. If it’s been working, strongly consider using it.
- Less Isn’t More: The temptation to keep your app sleek and light on function may seem trendy from a design perspective, but users want all the functionality and power of a website on their mobile device…because, increasingly, that’s what they’re using. That’s not to say you should cram excessive features into a limited space (which is another big turnoff). Instead, focus on the top features your users actually need; keep thinking about solutions to pain points of the consumer.
Developing Your MVP
No, we’re not talking about your baseball team seeking trade deals for their best player. Developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is a functioning app with the bare minimum core of functionality and usability, is a necessary step in the design and development stage. Once you’ve achieved an MVP, you now have a tangible app that you can use and test in-house for proper and extensive evaluation. After that phase, identify several groups of your target users, and let them have it. Conducting exhaustive UAT (User Acceptance Testing) is an absolutely essential step, and make sure to try it on every device, platform, and target user group you can think of. Then do it again. And again. The more troubleshooting and testing you do at this stage, the better idea you’ll have pertaining to relevant time tables, revised budgets, and additional work you’ll need to do.
Developing an MVP will also make you more attractive to investors if you are going that route. The right agency partner will help you develop an MVP to make sure your app idea is a viable one.
Hitting the Market
It’s really never too early to be thinking about marketing your HiTech app. Even before you start the development stage, you should be getting the anticipatory buzz going on multiple levels. There are several ways to market in the digital realm, and we’ll highlight a few here.
- Design a website: You need, at minimum, a simple website to host all the news, features, and developments of your new app. If you’ve got a little more time and budget to invest here, you should consider it. This will be the landing page for anyone inquiring about your app, and host your blog, testimonials, and any up-to-date newsworthy bits about the progress you’re making.
- Newsletter: You should also consider a newsletter offer with an option to enter an email address, which will build up your contact list.
- Start your content: Having an engaging and informational blog on the above website covers a lot of bases. Readers can learn more about the app, read testimonial quotes, and click on various links that reinforce the excitement…all of which reinforce your position as a thought leadership guru in your space. Plus, with some savvy SEO research, you can start the search engine climb early on.
- Engage with Influencers: Identifying and connecting with influencers is a great way to get the word out in a genuine manner to the right readers. Influencers are social media stars with loyal audiences, who likely follow these content creators because of their topical posts. The bigger the reach, the more you’ll likely have to pay for their review and opinions, so consider the value of mixing smaller influencers with specific niches with more general influencers with a larger reach.
- Social Media: No matter what other marketing methods you’re using, you should be blasting everything on social media. Pick the appropriate platforms for your target audience (Facebook for games, LinkedIn for business-related apps, etc.), and inquire about paid ads and how they can find that audience. Every bit of content, including your own blog posts and influencer content, should be consistently put out there, and make sure to answer any questions and comments. And make your content entertaining; using funny content (strongly consider video!) and great images make it much more likely that it will be widely shared.
There are many more ways to ensure the success of your HiTech app, including extensive quality control and various technical development steps (read more about the technical steps here). Just continue to follow those basic steps (clear goals, no shortcuts, learn from mistakes) put in the hard work, and use experts when you should, and you’re well on your way.
Do you have an app idea that you want to explore? Check out our work to see if Koombea is the right fit for you!