Questions to Ask Before Developing an App
Fundamental Questions to Answer Before Developing an App
Mobile apps are considered to be one of the most powerful business tools for reaching a broad target audience. Almost every adult owns a smartphone, a market that continues to grow and develop. However, while that is an excellent argument for developing an app, it isn’t as simple as that. There is little point developing an app just for the sake of it or just because competitors have one. As with any business decision or investment, an app needs to be well thought through.
Before engaging with an app developer, it’s worthwhile asking yourself some fundamental questions. That way, you’ll know what you need from your app and how it’s going to drive your business forward.
Develop Your Idea
It’s challenging to start developing an app before you’ve developed the premise for it. You need to have a sound idea for your app and what it will do. Most importantly, you’ll need to be able to explain it easily to others. One of the principal techniques for bringing any technology to market is simplification. Not only will a simple purpose for your app help you to work with a development team, but it will also help you to gain investment if you need it.
While developing your idea, you’ll also want to think about the business objectives. Think about what problem your app is going to solve and how it adds value to its users. To ensure your app is successful, and delivers what you need when you need it, you’ll need to be able to define the project scope. Consider your deadline if you have one, if there are any potential risks to the project and what you need to achieve for it to be successful.
When developing the idea for your mobile app, ask yourself these questions:
Can you communicate your idea in just a few sentences?
Do you have a deadline?
Is there anything that could go wrong?
What are your business objectives?
Know Your Customers
Once you have a sound idea for your app, you need to think about who will use it. It may appeal to your existing customer base, or be targeted at new customers. It’s vital to have a good understanding of exactly who you want to serve with your mobile app. This will help you to build an app that is focused towards your target audience.
As well as knowing your customers, you’ll need to research the competition. There may well be similar apps from other companies that your customers are already using. By identifying the competition, you can analyse what they’re doing well and not so well. Understanding your competition will help you develop specific app features that could give your app the edge.
When getting to know the customers for your app, ask yourself these questions:
Who are the target users?
Are there competitors to your app?
What specific features could help your app stand out?
Set Your Budget
If you’ve been doing your research into app development, you’ll know that it isn’t cheap. It’s vital to have a clearly defined budget before starting development work. It is easy for costs to escalate, so knowing exactly what you need to build and how much you can afford to spend is fundamental. Ultimately, your budget will greatly influence what you can develop.
You could consider building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This allows you to test the market with a basic feature set. Or, if your budget allows for it, you can directly build and launch the final polished version. It’s worth remembering that, while you may want many features for your app, the scope will be determined by what you can afford. You’ll need to prioritise and refer back to your business objectives.
On another note, you’ll want to consider how your app will make money once it’s launched. There are many different models for app monetisation. For example, you could have a free app and earn money from advertising, or you could charge for certain features within your app. Developing your app monetisation strategy will help you to justify your investment.
When setting the investment for your app, ask yourself these questions:
What is your investment for design and development?
How will your app make money?
Define Your Technical Features
Depending on your level of experience with apps, you may need help from your design and development team to define the technical features. However, it’s worth giving some thought to the basic design and technical features. Firstly, you’ll need to consider whether you're developing your app for iOS, Android or both. You’ll also need to work out where your app will be hosted, ensuring it can function at high speed. Think about the features and functions you’d like your app to have and which are must-haves.
As well as the technical features, it’s vital to consider the user experience. You may well be able to refer back to your competitor research. There may be apps already on the market that are very intuitive. The design of your app will be dependent upon the user journey.
When defining the technical features of your app, ask yourself these questions:
What platforms does your app need to work on?
Which features and functions does your app need?
Where will your app be hosted?
How will your app be maintained over time?
Plan Your Launch
If you've got a great idea, a defined audience and a development plan, you’re off to a good start. However, you’re going to need to know how you’ll get your app in front of your target audience once it’s ready to launch. It’s a similar process to starting a new business in its own right. You’ll need to tell people where to find your product and make sure that it stands out from the crowd.
Once you’ve launched your app and, hopefully, built up your client base, you’ll need to maintain it. Marketing your app is an ongoing process. While many customers may download your app, you need to ensure they’re using it if it's going to see continued success. You’ll also inevitably lose customers along the way, so you’ll need to continue to promote it after its initial launch.
When planning the launch of your app, ask yourself these questions:
How will the app be found once it’s ready for launch?
How will you continue to promote your app once it’s live?
Hopefully, by asking yourself these fundamental questions before developing an app, you’ll be much more likely to make it a success. While you’ll no doubt need to seek advice from professionals, doing some groundwork first ensures you are well informed and able to explain exactly what you need to make your app the perfect business tool.