7 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Mobile App
04 Nov 2020
When you have a unique app idea, it’s tempting to just phone up the first app developer you can find on Google and start spilling out all your ideas to them, but hold your horses! Diving into the mobile app development process unprepared can result in brand-damaging, not to mention costly, mistakes.
To say that the app market is competitive would be an understatement. If you don’t approach it with care, there are all the chances your app might end up sitting unused on the app store shelf. However, if you invest your time to plan each development stage, you will make the process fundamentally simpler and give your app a competitive advantage.
If you think you’ve come up with an app idea that will conquer the app world but have no idea where to start, then this is the post for you – because we’re discussing seven things you need to consider before making your desired mobile app.
1. The Market
We all like to think that our app idea is going to be the next big thing that will disrupt the industry, but the truth is, as of 2020, the App Store alone has in excess of 2.2 million apps available for download so your app idea has most likely been done before… but that’s not to say that you can’t do it better!
Knowing what’s out there is absolutely paramount, so one of the first things you should do to make sure your app stands out from the crowd is conducting in-depth market research. This will help you obtain valuable insights into your competitors, their strategies, their strengths, and their weaknesses too.
Information you gain from this research will be imperative in helping you understand how effective certain strategies are and avoid the same mistakes made by your rivals, but more importantly, it will help you come up with an even better game plan for your app.
2. The Target Users
The audience plays a critical role in the development of your app, because an app that doesn’t solve its users’ pain point is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. That means you must first recognise who your target users are, what they need, and how your app is going to deliver the solution before you start building your app – and keep those things at the centre of every decision you make.
To understand what your target users want, you should involve them in your market research; ask for their feedback and opinions, then you can evaluate their demands and develop an app that’s specifically tailored for them.
3. The Business Model
An app can play many different roles in your business: it could serve as a resource hub for your audience, a direct marketing channel that builds brand recognition, or, most commonly, a problem-solving tool that generates revenue.
If you’re planning to generate revenue directly from your app, you need to look into the following app monetisation models and find one (or a combination) that best fits your business objectives:
3.1 Paid Apps
The most obvious way to make money from your app is to charge for each download up-front – which, surprisingly, is what most apps used to do when mobile app stores were first launched. The downside of this method is that users can’t try before they part with their hard-earned money, which can put a lot of new users off, so if you’re a small business trying to make your presence known and build a user base then this is probably not for you.
3.2 In-App Advertising
In-app advertising is the starting point for most businesses looking to monetise their app. It’s also the source of revenue that most free apps depend on to stay afloat in this competitive market.
Even though this is a tried-and-tested method to grow revenue, you still need to be extra careful and strategic with where you place the ads. Otherwise the user experience might suffer.
3.3 Sponsors and Partnerships
If you anticipate your app to attract a big user base and a high level of engagement, then you should seriously consider seeking sponsorships by offering free marketing within your app, or you could partner up with another brand who can promote your app to their followers, thus significantly boosting your download rates.
3.4 In-App Purchases
Most apps are free to download but they typically include in-app purchasable features. The gamers out there are probably all too familiar with this concept… In fact, this is the most popular monetisation method in the app industry!
3.5 Freemium Versions
You can also create an entirely separate version of your app which includes exclusive features to give paying users a more complete experience, whilst using the free version as a teaser to give new users a taste of what you have to offer.
3.6 Subscription Services
If you’re committed to delivering exclusive, valuable content on a regular basis, you can monetise your app even if it’s free to download and to use, by offering a subscription service. This strategy gives users a choice between sticking with limited content and function, and opting into a subscription plan that provides the full benefits.
3.7 Affiliate Marketing
Implementing an affiliate program in your app gives you a (small) reward whenever you refer a user via a link placed within your app to take a specific action in another app. This monetisation model is particularly common within the e-commerce industry.
4. The Right Platform(s)
Ah, the million-dollar question: iOS or Android? Or both?
This decision is one of the first and perhaps one of the most important you need to make before building your app. It should be guided by several factors, such as your required features, deadline, budget, and your understanding of the user base, which is why point one and two are so important.
It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a wrong decision here, but your choice will certainly carry many implications for how you can allocate your resources, plan your entire project development, and distribute your app, as well as your chances of successfully generating revenue out of your idea, so choose wisely.
5. The Design
Now that you know the who, the how, and the where, it’s time to think about the what – specifically, what the design and UI (user interface) of your app will look like.
Whatever you’re planning to use your app for, making it easy on the eyes and fully functioning is essential in order to survive amongst millions of other existing apps… but why? Simple: because our minds are programmed to be drawn to aesthetically pleasing colours and ambiance. However, you don’t want your app design to come at the expense of the user experience. So to truly capture users’ attention, you need to find the right balance between design and functionality, which is the tricky part.
We suggest working with a professional app design and development agency that can understand your idea and use their expertise, skills, and experience to help you build an app that dazzles users and serves its purpose.
6. The Cost
It’s not easy to put a definitive price tag on building a mobile app because there are so many factors involved in determining the overall cost, and these factors vary from project to project.
To give you an idea, here’s a list of elements of an app that can impact its cost:
- Market research
- Required features and functionalities
- Choice of platform(s)
- Native, hybrid, or web app
- User interface and user experience
- App design
- App infrastructure
- App security
- Prototyping and demo versions
- App submission(s)
- Data integration
- Data storage
- Support and maintenance
- Marketing costs
This list is by no means exhaustive, but you get the point we’re trying to make.
7. The Development Team
Anyone can come up with a good app idea, but not everyone knows how to turn it into a reality.
The execution of your app is very much dependent on your app development team – who play a crucial role in making your app attractive, user-friendly, and intuitive – therefore it’s vital that you find a development team that has a sound knowledge of and plenty of experience in designing to provide the best user experience.
To help you choose a mobile app development agency that’s best suited to your requirements, here are some of the most important things you need to look into:
7.1 Their Portfolio
Any app development agency worth their salt must have some case studies or testimonials on their website, so check them out… but don’t stop there! Grab your phone, go to the app store and download the app(s) they’ve previously built, and have a play around to see how well they work.
7.2 The Technologies and Tools They Use
Every mobile app development framework provides a unique set of features and benefits that offer varying levels of innovation and user experience. That’s why you should always ask and research the technologies and tools an agency uses to build their apps, as this will enable you to select the best fit with the functionalities your app needs.
7.3 Their Process
It’s always a good idea to get a good understanding of how an agency works and how their team will communicate with you from the start to the ongoing optimisation of your app after it’s launched.
For example, our app development process at Digital Workroom starts with defining the business objectives for the project. We then bring in our design and development teams to devise the app’s UX, navigation mechanics, and to create basic wireframes. Every app is then passed through our internal quality assurance before it’s reviewed by the client and presented to the world… but we don’t stop there! We will continue to work with our client to ensure that the app achieves its full potential in the app stores by implementing marketing tools, conducting A/B testing, and so on.
7.4 Their Time Zone
Keep in mind that the best agency to build your app may be based far away from you, which makes point 7.3 extra important because you need to know exactly how they will handle communication with you throughout the process, especially if you have dedicated times for routine meetings.
7.5 How They Protect Your App Idea
If you have a brilliant app idea, the last thing you want is for it to leak before you finish building it. To give your idea legal protection, you should consider signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with your chosen agency.
At Digital Workroom, we offer an NDA at the client's request to give them peace of mind knowing that their idea is safe in our hands. This allows them to speak more freely to us about their vision, which in turn helps us to better understand their goals.
Talk to Us About All Things Mobile!
Are you ready to build a mobile app but not sure what the next step is? We can help you get started! Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a shout on socials: here’s our LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We look forward to hearing from you!