7 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Mobile App

Coding

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.”

― Jason Fried, CEO at Basecamp

Find early beta testers on Craigslist or ask random strangers to test your app’s user experience.

Click here to learn about creative user research strategies for your app.

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)

  • Retention Rate

  • Average Time Spent within the App

  • App Crashes

  • Engagement

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.

Dan Counsell of Realmac Software – makers of the popular Clear appsuggests that you should contact the media around 2-4 weeks before you plan to launch.

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.

Click here to read how Prerna Gupta, former CMO at Smule, approaches app marketing and the strategies she used to get millions of downloads.

Conclusion

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

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Comments.

  • http://www.mobilepundits.com/ mobilepundits

    As I am working as a mobile application developer, really this seven steps very helpful for me. I make a sticky note for every steps and put it up in front on my desktop. Mobile application developer

  • http://customwebsitedevelopement.blogspot.com Praneed

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  • govindrajput

    It is very essential for a mobile app development company to have a
    vision of their app beyond launch. Users might not accept your app or
    lose interest in it, if it is not user-friendly or provide them a poor
    experience.After learning some lessons, independent application developers now are moving back to creating mobile apps that are more thoughtfully designed and executed.

  • Cara Mooralian

    Awesome resources! There are a couple of blogs which are quite new for me. I also spend a lot of time on the following blogs:
    http://developdreamzindustries.blogspot.in/2016/11/5-common-mistakes-to-be-avoided-in.html

  • http://untitledkingdom.co/ Untitled Kingdom

    It’s difficult as for the first attempt, to avoid all seven. And those are pretty much the most important ones – each one of us developers struggled with them. As for some mistakes, I’d slightly disagree – monetization is a business topic. The “most common mistakes” series seems like something that’s for the beginners and those need to learn how the stuff works. Thinking about monetization might keep them away from testing some features. And – in the beginning people do not come up with new ways of monetization, they follow the old ones.

    So it’s crucial to be able to make as much an possible actually feasible. Out of those skills will come forth those needed to create an app that’ll bring huge ROI.

    Me and my colleagues had a thinking session about this topic as well – here are the results: https://untitledkingdom.co/blog/most-common-mistakes-creating-mobile-app-design/

  • Jaswinder Singh

    Thanx for sharing this post with us. We are the leading Mobile Application development company in Bothell, WA. (http://www.apptunix.com/mobile-app-development/). We are working with both international and national clients.