There’s no denying the fact that mobile apps have fundamentally changed nearly every single aspect of our lives. Over the last decade, apps have been created for just about everything – be it for the B2B or B2C markets. As of Q1 2019, there were 2.2 million iOS apps and 2.6 million Android apps available to download. And with smartphone and tablet users now spending an average of 87% of their screen time using apps, entrepreneurs have come to realise the importance of apps – both as a standalone product and as a means of engaging with an existing customer base.
There’s no shortage of exciting ideas for new apps but make no mistake about it – the process of turning an abstract idea into a functional app that is relevant, timely and appeals to the needs of a target audience is no easy feat.
Studio Graphene has been building and launching apps for entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs since 2014, and we recently celebrated the completion of our 100th app project – Frolo! Having worked with entrepreneurs and charities through to large corporate businesses, we have seen first-hand the challenges commonly faced when planning, building and launching an app. To overcome these, it is important to take into account the following points.
Know what your purpose is
At a touch of a button, consumers today can download one of the millions of mobile apps that are readily available on the market. So how do you ensure your app stands out from the crowd and, more importantly, achieves what it sets out to do?
The purpose of your app must be abundantly clear, and the design and functionality adopted must follow suit. Think backwards in order to align yourself with the intended end user so you have a clear goal in mind. What will they be using the app for? What problems are you solving for them? What functionality will they need? The answers to all of these crucial questions need to be determined from the outset, before you even start thinking about the more technical aspects.
Simplicity is key, so don’t overcomplicate things
When building an app from scratch, I cannot emphasise enough the need to focus on just one core feature. The most successful apps do one thing and do it very well. With a clear purpose, it makes the actual process of designing and building the app a lot easier. Of course, this can be much easier said than done. Entrepreneurs are by their nature ambitious individuals, and when building an app, there is the tendency to want more functionality and features than is necessary.
You are better off keeping things clear and simple, making sure you are not overwhelming the user with too much information or functions that do not add any real value to the user experience. As a developer, we know that every added button, image and icon makes the process of building and updating an app that little more complex.
The ultimate goal is to build an app that is user-friendly, as well as visually appealing. After all, the difference between a good app and a bad app is usually the quality of its user experience (UX). Good design is key here. It’s easy to overlook the visual aspect of an app, when in reality it is crucial that the app is designed with a specific audience in mind. By this I mean that it should resonate with the target user base in terms of its design, look, feel and usability. For instance, mobile users today (and in particular the younger generations) expect a lot from an app – fast loading time, ease of use and engaging content. All of these factors should form part of the overall app building strategy.
Ultimately, entrepreneurs need to understand their prospective users. Once known, they can focus on creating an app that appeals directly to them.
Conduct multiple test runs
When downloading an app, first-impressions can often determine whether a user will bother exploring and using the app. If users get the impression the app is full of bugs, there is a high chance they will delete it immediately off their smart device. According to Dimensional Research, 80% of app users will only attempt to use a problematic, poor functioning app, three times or less.
Once built, an app has to go through a series of stress tests to ensure there are no hidden bugs. Indeed, the performance of an app is one of the biggest predictors of mobile app success. A bad user experience can generally come down to the poor performance of an app, and this can lead to negative reviews which ultimately damage the reputation of the brand.
On this note, entrepreneurs cannot ignore the importance of device compatibility. For those less well-versed in app development, the challenge of ensuring that your app works on a smartphone (and across both iOS and Android devices if you’re looking to launch on both), as well as a tablet, is vital. It entails paying close attention to various limitations such as OS requirements and screen resolutions, on top of a host of other factors. For instance, Apple and Android devices have very different OS requirements which means developers have to be aware of the potential bug issues that may arise across different versions of the app.
Putting your app through multiple rounds of vigorous testing is the only way to ensure that you can effectively adjust to the various platforms available for apps and learn how to fix bugs that will inevitably arise. And bear in mind that apps are dynamic entities and demand constant updates and reviews once they are available to users.
Look to third-party developers
The trials and tribulations of building a quality app can be too much for some, and that’s ok. Luckily, there is no shortage of experts at hand to lend their support.
Entrepreneurs might consider outsourcing the development of their app to a reliable technology partner, who will have the experience to ensure that the app runs smoothly and with minimal glitches. More importantly, they can help you transform your idea from concept to reality; beyond just the technical aspects, agencies like Studio Graphene can help you firm up a concept that will translate into an engaging user experience.
To offer a case study, we recently had the privilege of working with Zoë, the founder of Frolo, to develop a community app for single parents which could effortlessly bring people together.
The goal? To curate a connected, empowered and enjoyable experience for single parents everywhere. In order to achieve this, we used a dating app model but modified it so the focus was on friendship building and networking instead. Through meticulously thought-out functionality, app users can now connect with one another based on a range of criteria such as age, location, their interests and their children’s interest.
The easy-to-use app has a clearly defined goal, and is intuitive to use, which made it a huge hit: less than 2 weeks after launch, Frolo had over 2,500 users and was featured in the App Store under ‘New Apps We Love’ and the ‘Featured Apps’ sections!
As an entrepreneur or business launching your first app, you will be sure to come across a number of hurdles in the pursuit of building a successful app. By partnering with a specialist agency to bring your ideas of life, you can rely on experts to guide you through the process and ensure that your app is incorporated as an integral part of users’ daily lives. To find out more, be sure to get in touch with a member of Studio Graphene today!
"The trials and tribulations of building a quality app can be too much for some, and thats ok. Luckily, there is no shortage of experts at hand to lend their support. "
Ritam Gandhi, Director of Studio Graphene
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