Why Develop a Mobile App
Having a mobile app developed for your business can help in several ways. At a fundamental level a mobile app can either help to:
- Improve efficiency – for example streamline an operation by using automation – perhaps removing manual or paper-based steps.
- Generate revenue – either directly (through sales or subscriptions) or by generating marketing enquiries which may then convert into a customer in the future.
A mobile app can also help improve your business in other ways, such as building your brand or offering a competitive advantage.
For some scenarios, a third party app may already exist. You’ll then want to consider whether having your own app or a third party one is best. Having your own app developed can often work out the most cost effective and flexible in the long-term.
Validate Your Idea
If you’re considering having your own app, it’s worth properly validating your idea before proceeding.
Consider Your Audience
For your idea to be successful, consider your audience and their ‘pain points’. If your app solves a problem for your audience or makes things easier, it may well be a good idea.
It’s important to analyse your competition and see what apps already exist. You can do this by searching for apps on the app stores (both Apple and Android), seeing what already exists and if you wish, to download some of your competitor apps. As well as searching for the actual apps, you can gauge popularity by searching on Google and social media to see how much information and engagement competitor apps have.
It’s also worth checking out websites, as your competitors may have created a website version of your mobile app idea. Depending on what your idea is, a mobile website may work our more cost effective and it’s worth considering a mobile app vs mobile website. However mobile apps do offer several features (e.g. push notifications) that mobile websites cannot.
If your app does have competitors, your idea can still work. You just need to consider what makes it unique or better than your competitors. Also consider that some competitors may have launched an app, but not promoted or marketed it sufficiently, so if you do this your similar app could be more successful.
Consider and Work Out Your Pricing Strategy
If your app is intended to generate revenue, it’s worth considering your mobile app pricing strategy. There are a variety of options to consider – free, in-app purchases, one-off paid and subscription.
With the pricing strategy it’s worth again looking at your competitors. If a certain strategy has worked for a similar app, it could work for you. Equally however it’s always worth going back to your target audience, as perhaps they would actually prefer a different pricing strategy.
Something to consider is that your pricing strategy isn’t fixed. For example you may launch your app with a certain strategy (e.g. free), then once it’s gained popularity you may decide to change that (e.g. add in-app purchases or make it a paid app).
Consider Development Technology and Approach
App Development Technology
To develop a mobile app, there are several different technologies. A key thing is to consider whether a cross platform technology or native language is used. A cross platform technology (such as MAUI, the successor to Xamarin) allows the app to be written once and then run on both Android and Apple. It offers many benefits and can be more cost effective than developing native apps. As a company, we use MAUI to develop our apps.
It’s also important to consider the development approach / methodology. The most fundamental thing to consider is agile vs waterfall. Waterfall is an older approach with fixed requirements and a fixed cost, whilst agile is more modern and allows an app to evolve and change during development.
Determine The Cost To Develop The App
App Development Cost
The cost to develop a mobile app depends on several factors including the functionality the app has and who you get to develop the app. It’s worth looking deeper into how much a mobile app costs to get developed to understand this.
Once you know the cost, as a business the key thing you need to look at is the return on investment (ROI). You can make some assumptions and calculate this to help confirm your app idea is feasible. For example if an app costs £8000 to develop and you have done research that shows you can sell it at £2.99 to 500 people each month, it will take under 6 months to start producing profit for you.
Alternatively, if your app is going to help your business operate more efficiently, you can do calculations based on time saved and hourly rate of employees.
We offer a free no-obligation, app outline and ballpark cost. This can help you decide if your budget is realistic and your idea is feasible.
Once development of an app starts, design and development work is done.
Design would typically include wireframes to help define the different screens of the app and how they link together. Full detailed design is then done, for all key screens. In order to do the detailed design, a brand guideline (logo, colour scheme, fonts etc.) is required.
Development work is the actual ‘coding’ of the app in the specific language, such as Microsoft C# .NET. Coding makes the app work and includes all specific functionality that the app needs. Usually, code reviews are also done – typically by an independent developer to help ensure good quality
Test The App
Before the app can be easily tested on real devices, you’ll need to sign-up for developer accounts – with Apple and Android. This is best as the app is then under your own company name and ownership. This is one of the advantages of your own app vs a third party app.
Once developer accounts have been created, your app can be deployed for beta / test flight testing. This means that you can test the app yourself, without it being publicly accessible in the stores. It’s private restricted testing, where only invited people can access the app.
Market The App
When the app is ready to launch, it’s important to consider how to launch and promote the app. A key thing to remember is that publicising and marketing your app is critical. Without this, very few people are likely to find your app and it will be less successful. There are both free ways (such as social media), as well as paid ways (such as app store adds or pay per click advertising) that can be used. Depending on the type of app, a combination may often be best.
If your app is designed to be used internally within your company, then publicising is easier as it’s more about notifying the relevant people that the app exists and training them how to use it.
Maintain The App
Finally, once the app is launched it will almost certainly need on-going maintenance. This can include updating ‘packages’, as well as changes to ensure it works on new version of iOS and Android. In addition you may well want functionality enhancements and changes. Depending on what changes are needed, the app may also need to have some refactoring done.