I have worked with multiple App Entrepreneurs, helping them develop their Mobile Apps as well as complete app strategy. I also see a common pattern of mistakes that App Entrepreneurs make. Few of them are :-
1. Trying to provide too many features or solve too many problems in a single app.
App users have a very short attention span. Providing too many features often times complicate the app and drive away users. App Entrepreneurs should keep one single goal, which the app should focus on. The rest of the features should be relegated to secondary screens. For example, even though Google provides a lot of services in it’s desktop Gmail interface, it has created separate mobile app for each service for mobile. This strategy keeps the app simple and easy to use.
2. Not completely understanding the user persona
App Entrepreneurs always want to target a broad segment of people to get more downloads. But this strategy either creates the app very generic or clutters the app with too many features.
App Entrepreneurs should define a precise user persona that the App trying to target. This keeps the goal clear in mind and helps focusing all the energy at the right set of problems/solutions. This also helps in validating the idea more effectively because you can now focus the effort of all departments’ i.e marketing, sales, app development etc. This is especially true for marketing and sales where targeting a very wide user base can spread the effort too thin. The app can now be developed keeping the particular user persona in mind and can gain tremendous loyalty from that particular segment.
For example, Google Keep is targeted at users who want an instant note-taking app. Press the App button and in another press you can type your note and done with it. Nothing more. Similarly, searching and finding notes is quick and easy. You can see your latest notes right at the main screen. So, no need to tinker around to find your recent notes. True, it doesn’t have those fancy features like Evernote. But it isn’t made for people who want to use an Evernote type of app.
3. Not doing enough marketing.
The App stores are crowded. The app will not be discovered on app stores’ listing even on the day of launch. So, how will users discover your app?
App Entrepreneurs should think of ways to market the app. The marketing plan should be made as the app is getting developed. This helps in creating a clear strategy about the target users and their needs. Apps can be marketed in multiple ways both paid and free. Usually mobile based marketing mediums provide better conversions for app downloads. This is because the process is more convenient and requires only a couple of presses.
4. Not putting enough emphasis on User Experience.
I have seen many App Entrepreneurs failing to understand the importance of user experience. It is not only how the app looks but how the user will consume content or features of the app.
User experience is the key to an app’s success. Consumers prefer apps, which are easier to use and remove friction towards the end result. Apps should be useable right from the moment the user opens it. Ideally, the main task should be the first thing that the user should see. If the user requires some training/on boarding, it should be step-by-step and easy to comprehend. A simple and effective user experience helps in gaining traction as users tend to recommend apps to one another.
For example, the biggest mistake Secret App did was to change their user experience. The earlier experience was fantastic. Users can see the photo of the post along with the title and then scroll down to see more posts. It was engaging. The updated app removed the photo and showed only plain text for each post. The results are there to see. Secret has shut down. So, never ever create a bad user experience in an app.
5. Not keeping enough options to monetize.
App Entrepreneurs often assume that users will pay for their apps. The belief comes from the fact that the same consumer pays to buy a similar content/feature in the offline world. For example, consumers may buy a physical copy of a book but will not pay the same price for an app with the same content.
Even for free apps, the monetization has to be well thought of. Not all apps can make money from ads or in-app purchases. It’s only apps, which have a high usage able to make money from ads. E.g games.
So, the monetization has to be thought out. Without monetization, an App entrepreneur looses interest in the app and it dies a slow death. True, that the monetization will come when the user base is there. But it has to thought about at the beginning to sustain the interest levels. There are multiple methods to monetize, including cross sell, 3rd party tie ups etc. These have to included in the app sooner.
Brainstorming all these points before starting with the app development can help avoid costly mistakes.
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