Do you have an idea for the next Flappy Bird? Are you looking to build a mobile app to increase exposure for your web service?
As a mobile app development company who has helped clients get their app ideas into the app store and developing our own apps, we have seen our share of mistakes.
Here are 7 of the top mistakes you should avoid when developing your next app.
1. Building for Multiple Platforms at Once
Let’s face it, with over one million apps on both the Google Play and Apple App Store, you are playing in a very competitive space.
Avoid doubling your engineering costs and focus on building on one platform first. This also helps get your minimum viable product (MVP) out in the app store as soon as possible.
In addition, if you do launch on both platforms at once and need to make any changes to design and/or functionality, then you will need to do it on both places which adds more development time and cost.
It’s better to finalize an app on iOS and have a couple of iterations before porting it to Android (or vice versa).
Remember that Instagram had 30 million users already on iOS before they even launched their Android version.
2. Having Bloated Features
Now that you have picked your app store of choice for the initial launch, it’s important to have a core set of features as your MVP. With your first version, you want to prove the core hypothesis of your app to see if the market is willing to adopt it.
Good user experience is about doing more with less.
If you have an existing web service, don’t try to condense the online experience into the mobile screen. It’s important to rethink your entire user flow and interactions on mobile and not replicate the online experience.
In addition, while it’s important to launch with just a core set of features, remember not to rush development and release a buggy app. Mobile users are unforgiving and will leave 1-star reviews if your app is buggy. This rocky start is very difficult to recover from.
3. Skimming on User Experience
Apple has set the bar with its elegant product design and user experience. You can hand over your iPhone or iPad to a toddler and they will immediately know how to use it.
The mobile user has different expectations than the one on the web. The mobile experience needs to be self-describing and intuitive. While the online user may put up with poor user experience and design, a mobile user will quickly give up on your app if it’s too difficult to use.
In fact, 26% of the apps are only opened once and never use it again, and another 48% are opened 10 times or less. Therefore, you need to have an immediate “wow” factor upon the user launching the app.
“It’s better to have people be happy using someone else’s product than disgruntled using yours.”Tweet This
― Jason Fried, CEO at Basecamp
Find early beta testers on Craigslist or ask random strangers to test your app’s user experience.
It’s important to get the user experience and design just right before launching the app.
4. Not Including Analytics
We would never imagine launching a website without Google Analytics or another tracking tool, right? Why would you launch an app without any analytics?
Use an analytics service like Flurry to make data driven decisions on design, content, and user experience. There’s a popular saying that “we only manage things we measure”, so it’s important that you start measuring from the very start.
Here are some important metrics to measure within your app:
Daily Active Users (DAU)
Average Time Spent within the App
Using Flurry Analytics, LodgeNet, a leading provider of interactive media and connectivity services for hotel rooms, gained valuable insight into guests’ viewing and purchasing habits. Using this data, LodgeNet found the best times to deliver promotions for premium entertainment, increasing in-app movie purchases by 173%.
5. Mismanaging the Project
If you’ve never managed a software project before, you should consider hiring a professional mobile app development company. While you may pay a little more, a development shop will have project managers who are there to translate your laymen speak into one developers can understand.
In addition, writing a product specification document is often a daunting task for anyone without product management experience. There are many variables and edge cases to consider when developing a mobile app and hiring a professional shop may end up saving you more time and money in the end.
Moreover, a mobile app development company is focused on developing apps and has the experience working with clients of a diverse technical background, whereas a freelancer maybe moonlighting or used to working with technical product managers
6. Not Thinking About Monetization
Don’t think that if you build it, they will come (and pay). Many of the top downloaded apps are free, so it’s important to think about how you will monetize from the onset.
Common misconceptions of monetization include:
Ads will support my app
Another company will acquire my app
Users will pay for my app (outright or in-app purchases)
Going for scale, worry about monetization later
It’s important to research other apps in your category to see how they monetize. Are users willing to pay outright for the app or do you have to monetize through in-app purchases? What kind of in-app purchases are users buying?
In fact, iTunes actually lists out an app’s most popular in-app purchases. Here’s an example of the popular in-app purchases in Clash of Clans:
7. Marketing After Submitting App
It’s important to start marketing your app as early as possible. Don’t wait until submitting the app to the App Store to start your press outreach.
Before sending emails, research your favorite technology blogs and look for journalists who have written about a similar app. When sending your emails, make sure to keep them short, personal, and include a few details about what makes your app different.
Include a link to a screenshot or video so the blogger can quickly get a sense of what your app does. At the end of the email ask if they’d like to know more or perhaps try out the app before it goes live.
Avoid the mobile app development mistakes listed above and you will increase the likelihood that your app is developed on time, covered by the press, and well monetized.
What is your favorite mistake? Are there any mistakes that I missed? Leave a comment below.
Bobby Gill is the founder of Blue Label Labs, a mobile app development lab based in New York. His experiences include:
- Editing IdeaToAppster.com, the premier online resource for news, articles and tips for mobile app design and development.
- Providing technical guidance to founders who are bringing their apps to market.
- Managing programs at Microsoft.
Call Bobby today to talk about entrepreneurship, mobile app development, and technology.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Varona