I gave a talk at NSManchester, an iOS Developer Meetup group. The talk focussed on common mistakes that developers often make when developing apps.
While the talk was focussed specifically on Software Developers a number of “mistakes” are directly relevant to end users and consumers who might be considering embarking on an app development project.
One of the most frequent mistakes we find when a client describes a new app idea to us is that the idea lacks focus. It is very tempting to create an app that has a huge amount of functionality under the allusion that more features will result in more users. The reality is that 26% of mobile apps will only ever be opened once and 48% of mobile apps will be opened less than 10 times. It is therefore incredibly important to focus your service offering so that the core idea of the app can be tested with users before too much money is spent on the development of the product.
Within the software community we often use the term “Minimal Viable Product.” This essentially means you should write the smallest amount of software that makes a viable product and then test this directly with users to see if the intended value proposition is well received.
Understand the business model
It is a widely held belief that releasing a good app will automatically make significant amounts of money. Take Angry Birds, developed by Rovio; the company has generated millions off the back of a successful app. What isn’t as well documented is that Angry Birds was actually Rovio’s 56th app concept and that prior to angry birds their development bill had ran into several millions of pounds as they tried to find the right product. In addition, Angry Birds was first released into a much less crowded app store where it was much easier to get noticed. Today with over 2.2 million apps in the app store it is incredibly difficult to get noticed. We find that the most successful apps are the apps that build upon an existing customer base and provide a new value proposition to users who are already using a service or product provided to a company. There will always be exceptions to the rule; flappy birds was one such example, but sadly without huge marketing budgets the majority of apps simply go unnoticed and never gain any form of social traction. It is therefore important to understand where the revenue will come from before investing in developing a product.
Building for multiple platforms
This is something often recognised by app entrepreneurs; do I develop for Android, iOS or both? In reality you want to feature on both platforms but I believe it’s a myth that both platforms need to be at the same stage of development. It is much better to invest money in one platform to prove a concept, iron out the bugs and get user feedback before duplicating the effort on another platform. That way you can learn from your mistakes and ensure that you don’t spend money making the same mistake twice.
Market your App as soon as possible
People are often worried about sharing their app idea in case someone “steals it”. The reality is that it’s hard work creating an app and its unlikely anyone would ever do this. Much better that you tell as many people what you are creating as soon as you start creating (or even before you do) as this will allow people to contribute ideas, tell you what they think and hopefully avoid money being wasted on an idea that is unlikely to gain traction. If you wait until your app is in the app store before marketing it you are likely to be incredibly disappointed with the numbers of downloads and find paying for changes to your app that could have been incorporated into the initial development.
The best people to test your app are the people who are ultimately going to use it. A software development is a living thing, that’s why apps are constantly being updated. Get as many people as possible to use your app and provide feedback; that’s the only way you will ensure that you do not release a buggy app and that the app does what it was intended to do.
So there you have it, a few pro tips that might come in handy if you are considering developing an app. If you have an idea for an app get in touch and let us talk it through with you; hopefully this will result in you making a sensible investment decision and not wasting money on an idea that is unlikely to gain market traction.