Making an App

By May 15, 2020September 25th, 2020App
Making an App

Thinking of Making an App?

No point beating around the bush – making a successful app is difficult.

We’ve  assembled a hit list of considerations that will help save you time, hassle and likely a fairly significant amount of money.

There’s a pretty simple structure here. We’re going to go point-by-point to highlight some key tips and tricks that will increase your chance of having a truly successful app.

Some are super easy time savers while others require you to roll your sleeves up but all of them will ultimately give you better results and a better time making it happen.

We’ve kept this bite-sized so make sure to check out the rest of our mini series on App Essentials to learn more.

Tip #1: Put first things first

Planning comes before implementation. Know your market and know your audience. Ideally, in doing this you’ll get a good understanding of the major factors that drive/influence them as well.

Don’t get us wrong, some people tear up at the thought of this kind of the research grind. We feel your pain but there are a number of silver linings:

  1. You will save significant amounts of money.
  2. Providing you have a basic understanding of market research, the only other requirement is a bit of graft.
  3. It’s far better to take the time to overcome challenges or tough questions at the beginning rather than during or after the development. It’s also cheaper and less stressful.
  4. Doing the research yourself also gives you unquestionable expertise over your app idea.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll know when you’ve done a good amount of research when you’re able to relate questions you receive to the insight you have acquired. This means even if it’s a question you haven’t heard before you’re still likely to be able to answer it without to much concern or distraction.

If it really isn’t your expertise and you wouldn’t feel confident in your findings, by all means enlist the help of someone better suited to the task.

Tip #2: Streamline the scope

Especially for first time apps, we tend to recommend simplifying. This means getting right to the core of what the value the app is going to offer it’s users that they can’t already get elsewhere.

While adding more features and functions can offer more value, it often hinders early stage apps by confusing users. Sticking to doing one thing well (and building from there) allows you to tick some massive boxes:

  1. Easy to use and understand for first time users
  2. Reduces initial cost of building app
  3. Allows you to test and tailor future functionality based on user feedback
  4. Significantly reduces the chance of scope creep, delays and decision paralysis

It’s important to make clear we’re emphasizing being selective and relatively critical of what you want the app to be able to do for it’s users. If it’s clearly needed, include it . What we encourage you to avoid is throwing everything you can think of into the mix. This shoots your costs and timelines up as well as increasing the chance of loosing what the app is really about. (check out out article on Time & Cost of Building an App for more info)

It can feel like a safety net in case something doesn’t pan out but in our experience it only causes issues and confusion with in client teams and among stakeholders.

A handy way of judging this and seeing the financial impact of expanding the scope is to use online cost calculators for apps.

Tip #3: Pro’s Prototype

Start with a prototype app first. It’s essentially a mock-up that can be made fairly quickly and lets you and prospective users see the idea for the app before you invest in developing the app.

We’re massive advocates for iterative testing and getting real user feedback as early and often as possible. It’s completely natural to feel protective of your idea. Where it becomes counterproductive is if it prevents and/or delays getting feedback. There’s a misconception among some first timers that it has to be perfect before anyone sees it. The truth is it will always be flawed until users see it and provide feedback.

Simply put, a prototype ensures the app starts on the right footing and ensures your time and money continues to be well spent.

You can do prototypes by yourself but if you are less experienced with design work we recommend reaching out to someone with solid experience. Simply because bad design can limit the value of the feedback you receive.

Tip #4: User feedback should steer the business model

For non-profit apps this doesn’t apply. For everyone else, these are perhaps the two most important aspects your app needs to continue to improve and deliver to gain success.

It’s entirely natural to feel a sense of pride and ownership over your app. This is one of the many perks of going through the experience. It can also cause unnecessary issues and challenges if not balanced against feedback and business model management. Our recommendation is to prioritize in the following order:

User Satisfaction | What makes the best experience for the most people

Business Model | What allows you and your business to grow and continue to fund making the app better

Founder Vision | The initial intentions and aims of the app that led to its creation.

This might sound controversial. Ultimately, the most important thing is making users happy. Without it, your app won’t gain the traction it needs to grow and succeed. It’s the number one priority because time is showing that as long as apps have happy users, revenue and profitability can come with time. The business model is essential to any app that wants to continue to create and harness value. One of the benefits of building an app is how varied and adaptable it allows the business and revenue models to be. This is why we tend to recommend founder vision is the third priority. It’s very high on the overall list of priorities as it drives progress, builds a culture and morale as well as helping keep clarity in chaotic times. That being said, our experience is that if this is put above the importance of user feedback or willingness to adapt the business model it can inhibit overall success of the app.

This is a particularly subjective point. That being said, we can only base our advice on our experiences and provide tips we have seen make a notable contribution towards success.

Your thoughts…

The aim of our blog is to share our experience and advice in the hope it saves you time, hassle and money. We’re keen to hear your ideas for future posts so if you have any questions or requests please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Thank you!

At Ngage, we’ve had the pleasure of developing apps for amazing organisations and entrepreneurs from around the world. From prototypes for aspiring start-ups seeking user validation to an enterprise app being gathering input for international projects spanning continents. So what have we learnt so far? More importantly, how can we use it to help you?

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