Small Business Owners Mobile App Development 101

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With over 200 billion mobile apps being downloaded every day across the globe, it makes sense to be where your customers are and developing an app for your company has great potential to significantly boost business…when its done right!

Take your time throughout this endeavour and avoid heading straight into the ‘doing’ until you’ve spent some much needed time on the ‘planning’!

Mobile applications are a competitive market and so it’s essential that your app idea will not just be downloaded by your ideal audience. Whilst downloads are great, you also want them to use your app, right?!

Therefore, before you begin the process of selecting suitable custom app development companies, you will need to spend some time both ensuring your app idea is the right choice and direction for your business and that it ultimately will add value to your audience and of course bring revenue to your business.

Mobile App Spec

To ensure you’re making wise choices in relation to the suitability and investment potential of your mobile app, asking some of the following questions might help guide your decisions…

Does your app idea solve a problem for your customer?

If your initial idea is to create an application version of your website, you may want to think again! Ensuring your website is mobile optimised is more than enough to meet this need and if isn’t already, you may wish to think about addressing this issue before you focus your resource on app development.

What apps (if any) do your competitors have? What will make yours different/better?

The best way to grab a wide-open gap in the market it is to do some thorough competitor research. Check what apps your competitors have, how many downloads they have and what the reviews are revealing.

Does your app utilise mobile device functionality?

Apps that connect with maps, cameras etc are extremely popular. It's worth ensuring your app is trendy and optimises features which are sort after in the world of mobile apps.

What will your app achieve?

What does success look like? Are you hoping to simply increase your brand presence or make money as a result of your app? This will direct the functionality and specification, so be sure to be clear on what your outcomes are. For example, if you want to make money will it be through ads, paid downloads or paid additional features etc.

Allocating Budget

If you aren’t certain how much budget to set aside for your app development project, do some thorough research. Estimate your costs based on the development and ensure you also budget for ongoing maintenance, support and future development requirements.

Furthermore, it’s advisable to set aside a contingency budget for any unforeseen costs or setbacks. However, you can avoid this problem to some degree by undertaking thorough planning and choosing a reliable app development company.

Timescales and Resource

Is there a deadline you need to achieve this by i.e. does it impact the success or role out of something else in your business? Ensuring the timeline is both realistic and appropriate is extremely important, especially when it has risk or cost implications.

To keep things on track, it can be really useful to ensure there is a dedicated person assigned to this specific project, someone who has the time to invest in keeping it moving forward.

It’s also important to prepare your timeline with resources in mind. For example, do you have the resource available during the entirety of the timeline and during key milestones of the development or will the project lead be on holiday for a month during the significant phase?

Deciding Which Developers

Once you have a clear and solid idea of what your app features need to include, you can take the step of choosing which developers you will use to create your mobile app.

It's often the case that developers will be led by you with regards to budget and to some degree timescales so knowing these before this point and be very useful.

One of the most thorough ways to approach this task is to invite several companies to pitch for your development project. In doing so, you will be able to easily and effectively compare them to your needs.

Some good questions to ask include:

  • Have they worked with a business in a similar industry before?
  • How long will the project take (end to end) including design, build, testing and launch? What are the project milestones?
  • What are the costs involved for all aspects – including change controls and bug fixes?
  • What approach do they use for design principles and user experience?
  • What coding standards do they follow?
  • What support is provided for app store submission?
  • What ongoing support and maintenance will be required for your app (plus any associated costs)?
  • How will they involve you in the project?
  • What are the options for multiple platforms?
  • Whats not included in the contract? For example, testing.
  • How will they ensure effective app speed?
  • Who will own the code?

Furthermore, be sure to look at example apps built by each company for similar clients to get an idea of the quality of their work.

What to Expect

The good thing about choosing experienced app developers is they can guide you through the next stages of the process and provide clarity of the associated terms.

However, here is some of the basic ‘lingo’ you’ll benefit from familiarising yourself with to help ensure things keep on track and all bases are covered.

Testing

Once your app is built, you will need to test it to ensure functionality is working correctly in a ‘real life’ environment. This is something that needs to be planned for in advance by gathering beta testers and ensuring the app is tested under different conditions and environments.

Bug Fixes

During the testing process, any bugs (the functionality doesn’t do what it is meant to) encountered will need to be fixed. This will usually be an additional

Change Controls

If you realise you’d need a specific additional feature or functionality that isn’t outlined in the original spec, this is known as a change control. Change controls are usually an additional cost unless otherwise specified in the contract.

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