Do You Really Need an Application? | Hacker Noon

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Are you planning to start an app business or develop an app for your business?

Without proper planning, you will end up investing more time, money, and other resources in the development of your mobile app.

You need an end-to-end strategy and planning task list to make sure you don’t miss out on any critical stages of your mobile app development.

It always helps to have a task list when starting an app business to stay organized throughout the process – right from an app idea until you have the final product.

In this article, I have created a comprehensive checklist to start an app business and make sure that it is a resounding success.

Define Your Goals

There are about 5 billion mobile users worldwide. 

With this number in the background and an increasing number of users making purchase decisions on their mobile devices, it makes sense for you to start an app business or to have a mobile app for your business. But will that be a good call or a poor investment?

In the first step of how to start an app business, ask these questions to yourself to set short term goals for your mobile app journey.

1. Does your business need an app?

Before starting an app business, here’s an example for you.

Starbucks was one of the first ones to allow users to order via their mobile app.

It witnessed an 11% growth in users by shifting to a mobile app and encouraging customer engagement via its app-exclusive rewards program. In fact, their app also accounted for about 39% of the entire chain’s sales.

On the other side, 23% of apps are used only once. After 3 months of installing it, 80% of users don’t use a mobile app at all.

You want your app to be like Starbucks and not fall under the latter category. Ask questions like these when starting an app business or developing a business application to know if your company really needs a mobile app.

  • Does your business offer a customer loyalty program?
  • Can your app resolve a problem that a mobile responsive website can’t?

2. What do you plan to achieve through your mobile app?

Let’s look at the Zappos.com app. It received 10,000 downloads within the first week of its launch on iPad devices.

“The goal of the Zappos Mobile App was to deliver a simple shopping experience on the coolest device on the street in eons,”  – Ian Klassen (Zappos Mobile Program Manager).

It allows its users to track their orders using its mobile app. It also keeps a track of your product searches and notifies you when your desired products come back in stock. 

What Zappos.com achieved through their app?

  • Improved online shopping experience.
  • Better consumer engagement.
  • Increased user retention.

Why do you want a mobile app for your business? Or why do you want to start an app business? Do you want to expand your user base or do you want to improve the user experience of your existing users?

3. How many similar apps have failed?

This is an important step in starting an app business. If you come across a similar app as the one you are planning to develop, don’t look the other way! 

Dig deeper to understand why it failed and what you can do differently to avoid meeting the same fate.

Does its failure leave you with a market to launch your app or is it a sign for you to not start an app business?

4. What is your app’s Unique Selling Point (USP)?

The USP of your app is what will sell it to your users!

There is no point in starting an app business if its functionalities are similar to another app already out there. This will make it harder for you to gain users for your app.

Decide your app’s Unique Selling Point (USP), something like SiriusXM – “180+ channels, commercial-free music”. Now, I would definitely download this app instead of hundreds of other music streaming apps.

Finding answers to these 4 questions will help you set pillars for starting an app business. Once you are ready with all the answers to the first step in how to start an app business, it’s time to do the market research for your app idea.

Market Research

In this step of starting an app business, your focus should be finding your competitors and defining your target consumers! Ask these questions when doing your market research for your mobile app.

1. Who are your direct competitors?

Identifying your direct competitors becomes super-important when starting an app business.

Let’s say that you run a chain of local retail stores. If you consider Amazon or Walmart apps to be a direct competitor of your mobile app, you are doing it wrong. 

Similarly, if you are a taxi company in New York, competing with a global company like Uber shouldn’t be your first choice.

Here’s something to get you started with your competitive app analysis when starting an app.

Who are your direct competitors? Do they have a mobile app? What are their USPs? Which extra features can your app offer that your competitors don’t?

2. Who are your users and what do they need?

In short, create a buyer’s persona when starting an app business. 

US consumers spend 5 hours per day on mobile devices but knowing your target users and their requirements is a must for making your app business successful. 

You can divide your users into 3-4 different categories and create different buyer’s persons depending on their age groups, pain points, and more when starting an app business.

For instance, Walmart’s user groups contain families looking for one-stop convenience while Amazon users value low prices but are willing to sacrifice it for convenience.

Find answers to questions when starting an app business.

Who are your users? What are their shopping habits? Which pain points do they face? What challenges do they face while browsing your services and products?

3. Will your app fulfill these requirements?

In this step of how to start an app business, it’s time to ask yourself – will your app address the user requirements identified in the above step?

Most mobile apps fail because of two primary reasons:

  • Your users don’t understand your app.
  • They don’t obtain any value from it.

Once you get an answer to these questions, it will be easier for you to identify USPs and other features of your app. Here’s an example for you.

Before Uber and other taxi sharing apps, traveling with strangers was not a common concept. The Uber app capitalized on the growing value of the “sharing economy” and has more than 41.8 million users in the US.

Will your app address the primary pain points of your users?

4. How do you plan to carry out user onboarding?

How do you plan to carry out user onboarding?

The success of starting an app business depends on how many users use your mobile app. A survey found out that user onboarding experience also impacts the customer retention of your app.

Customers with positive app onboarding experience are much less likely to drop off in the first 21 days of being a customer.

You don’t want this to happen to your mobile app. In the market research for your mobile app, read about successful user onboarding strategies. 

  • How do you plan to carry out user onboarding? 
  • Will your app allow logging in via social media channels?

These questions will help you decide if your app is ready for the market. It will also help you set up a consumer acquisition strategy and create a monetization strategy for your mobile app.

Now that you are ready with your market research for starting an app business, let’s define a mobile app development budget.

Define Your Budget

The next thing about how to start an app business is to define your budget. These questions will help you determine your app development cost.

1. Which platform(s) do you want to launch your app on?

Which platform do you want to launch your app on when starting an app business – Android, iOS, Cross-Platform, or a Hybrid Platform? 

Keep in mind that the platform you choose will affect your app development budget.

For instance, if you want a native app for your business, you will need to develop multiple apps to target your users on different platforms.

Use your market research to determine the platform your users prefer before diving into the development phase for your app when starting an app business.

2. How much can you spend on your mobile app?

A complex app like Uber can take up to 20 or more weeks to develop. 

As much as mobile apps can benefit your business, it takes a good amount of time, money, and other resources to develop a successful app.

Use your market research when starting an app business to analyze how much revenue you are expecting to drive from your app and use it to determine your app development budget.

If you are not sure if your app is a good idea for your business, you can start by investing in the development of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before starting an app business. Down the line, you can always add more features depending on how your users respond to your app.

Set Up Your Development Team

Now that you are ready with your app idea for starting an app business, market research, and development budget, the next item in the app development checklist is to set up your development team and define a timeline for your mobile app development.

1. Have you set up a development team for your mobile app?

There are multiple ways you can go about developing your mobile app when starting an app business.

But if you own a startup, SMB, or enterprise that is solely not into app development, it is a good idea to leave your development project to the experts instead of setting up a development team from scratch.

The most effective way to go about this is to hire remote mobile app developers using the Staff Augmentation model!

Through this model, you can ensure top-notch mobile app development within your defined timeline from highly-skilled experts when starting an app business or creating a business application.

Which technologies and frameworks do you want to use in your app? What is the experience of the developers in your team?

2. Have you determined a timeline for your mobile app?

The aspects of starting an app business that are still left are – UI/UX Design, Development, Testing, and Deployment. But before we get to that stage, it is always a good idea to determine a timeline for your mobile app.

Here is how the development timeline of an average app looks like:

  • UI/UX Design and Pre-Development Stage: 5 – 7 weeks
  • Development Stages: 6 – 8 weeks
  • Testing: 2 weeks (maybe more)

Have you set up a timeline for the UI/UX design of your app? Have you fixed a deadline for front-end development, back-end development, and app testing?

UI/UX Design

UI/UX Design is the founding stone when starting an app business or creating a business application. You don’t want to miss out on any critical steps in this phase of how to start an app business. Here are a few questions you will definitely need in your app development checklist during the UI/UX design phase.

1. Have you created a style sheet for your app?

The style sheet of how to start an app business is basically a set of rules that are followed throughout the UI design of your mobile app. 

It contains rules for types of fonts, font size, typography elements, primary & secondary colors to be used, and more! The style guide for the UI of your app defines its UX and how a user sees your brand. 

What colors do your users associate your brand with? What fonts will fit right in with your app’s UI?

2. Does your app have a different UI/UX for tablets than for smaller devices?

What devices do you want to launch your app on? Make a list of all these devices and ask your team to design UI/UX for all the devices when starting an app business.

For instance, an app interface designed for tablets will look cluttered in a smartphone. The same goes for iPads and iPhones.

3. Does your UI offer a great UX for your app users?

Once the UI of your app is ready, put yourself in the shoes of your users and use it. Do you like it?

Here are a few things that can help you create an intuitive user experience when starting an app business.

Keep content to a bare minimum – only what your users want to know. Simple design sells. Keep the UI elements to a minimum. A simple design with the ease of usage is something you should be aiming for.

What does the parent screen of your app look like? What are the key features that you want to highlight in your app?

Development & Testing

Development & testing are the two most important aspects when starting an app business that will decide its future. Everything you have invested in your app till now comes to actual implementation at this stage.

Ask these few questions to make sure that you don’t miss out on a few key things during the Development & Testing of your app!

1. Have you chosen the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) for your mobile app?

There are 5 different types of Software Development Life Cycles. Which one is the perfect fit for your mobile app? Is it the Iterative Model or the Waterfall Model or any other project models?

The basic stages of development remain the same in all models of SDLCs but the manner & order of execution of these stages are different.

The Agile Model is one of the popular ones because it is the most efficient and the least time-consuming model for your mobile app development.

2. Have you considered building serverless APIs?

When searching for how to start an app business, there are two ways to go about the backend architecture of your mobile app. It could either be – traditional cloud hosting or it could be serverless APIs.

Serverless APIs doesn’t mean that servers are no longer involved. Rather, it means that the servers are auto-created as you go as per the scaling demands of your app. Your app development team won’t have the task of traditional maintenance app servers.

Do you plan to scale your app in the future? Is it something that can easily be traditional cloud hosting or does it need serverless APIs?

3. What actual usability testing have you planned on doing?

This is an important step in how to start an app business or develop a business application. At the end of the day, the app you are building is for your users.

You understand its concept and you are too close to it to have an unbiased experience. This is where usability testing of your app becomes really important.

It helps you decide what works and what doesn’t work for your users. Right from user interface and user experience to the testing of other advanced features, usability testing brings out the best of your mobile app!

Starting An App Business

I hope that this blog answered your initial question of how to start an app business or whether your business needs a mobile app.

READY, GET SET, GO!

This blog originally appeared here.

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