10 Things To Consider Before Building Your Next App

Tami Reiss
Feb 24, 2016 · 4 min read

Deciding to build an app is easy. Doing it? That’s when things get difficult.

We’ve built our fair share of apps, and we’ve hit stumbling blocks. But that doesn’t mean you should too. That’s why we’ve put together this list of things that you need to think about before you start development.

Let’s take a look at a few different scenarios.

Photo by Flickr user IntelFreePress

Lessons for New Apps

You’ve decided to build an app, great! Please pause and do a little research before building.

1. Survey your competitors.

Have they built an app solving a similar problem? Examine it. What works and what doesn’t? Why? Form your opinions, and then check out app reviews. As a rule of thumb, the customer is king, listen to them.

Let your competitor’s app inform your choices.

2. Find similar business models.

Don’t limit your research to direct competitors. Broaden it.

Are you building an on-demand app? It doesn’t matter that your app doesn’t hail cars; you should still look at Uber for best practices. Other companies have solved your problems. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Lessons for Companies with Web Apps

You already have a web app; now you’re translating to mobile. You’ve got to think through a few different challenges.

3. Understand your value add.

Why do your users need the mobile app? What will it do that your web app isn’t doing? Or what will it enhance?

Look at your existing software and be sure that your new mobile app is solving the right problem. It’s possible your app will add no value and you’ll regret building it.

4. Make them your apps play nice.

Your users are accustomed to the web app. It’s familiar. Your mobile app needs to complement that experience. It can’t exist in a silo.

If your customer can’t seamlessly use both the web and mobile apps, you’ve done something wrong.

Lessons for Everyone

Other best practices apply no matter where your company is in its lifecycle.

5. Decide mobile responsive or mobile app.

Do you expect customers to use your service daily on the go? Do you use push notifications? Do you need to connect your software to other services? Do you want to rely on connectivity?

These are the questions you need to consider. If you don’t need to build an app, don’t. Save yourself time and money.

6. Mobile needs or mobile wants?

Don’t build everything that your user wants. Get lean. Understand what they need in a great mobile experience and build that. A mobile app built for everyone is actually built for no one. Focus on your core mobile customer’s needs, not all of the “nice to haves” users request.

7. Create a habit.

Don’t waste your time by building an app that no one uses.

You want users to engage with your app regularly. It’s why you didn’t build a mobile responsive website. How are you going to drive that sticky behavior? What habit will your app tie into that keeps your users coming back day after day?

8. Understand the drivers to download.

You can’t build sticky user behavior if you don’t get people to download your app.

Are you going to offer incentives, maybe a free credit? What’s your marketing campaign? Do you want to build a referral mechanism into the product? Establish a clear plan and execute on it.

9. Decide on a platform.

Where are your users? Are they on Android? Then don’t build for iOS. Are they the last Blackberry users?

There’s no sense in building an app for an operating system if your customers aren’t there. If your target users are split between Android and iOS, consider a multi-platform strategy.

10. Plan for maintenance.

Mobile app development isn’t a one-time deal. Mobile platforms and trends change quickly and you need to be ready to change with them. Make sure your plan incorporates updates and additional developer expenses in the future.

If you read these ten things and it helped you develop a roadmap, great. We’re excited to try out your app when it’s released.

But if reading this list made you anxious, shoot us a message. DefMethod specializes in building apps (specifically, multiplatform apps). They’ll remove all the headache and deliver an app that’s easily maintainable by your developers.

Like this post? Click the heart below and consider signing up for my Product Management for Startup Founders email course or bring me into your organization to lead a workshop.

Product Ponderings

My thoughts on Product Management learned from over a decade developing good ideas into great products.

Tami Reiss

Written by

#fullstack Product Management Leader and Consultant @tamireiss turns good ideas into great products

Product Ponderings

My thoughts on Product Management learned from over a decade developing good ideas into great products.

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