By Megan Totka
Mobile apps are everywhere today, and it seems like there really is an app for everything – so does your small business have one? There are plenty of benefits to having a custom app for your business, not the least of which is having a piece of dedicated real estate on your customers’ smartphones and tablets that keeps your company top of mind.
But a lot goes into mobile app development – a lot more than users realize. There are a million details to consider, things that could go wrong to derail the project, and factors weighing on the success of the app. Whether you’re working with a developer, have an in-house team, or are considering the DIY app route with programs like appmkr or Andromo, it’s important to be aware of the potential issues you could be facing.
We’ve compiled a list of ten of the most common mistakes app and web developers make, so you can avoid them and sell with success.
Mistake #1: Failing to verify that there is a market for the app
Product validation is an important first step. Ask potential users in forums, on social media sites, or by cold calling if they’d find your app useful. If you get a good response, you know your idea has some potential.
Mistake #2: Selling the app for too high a price
In this age where everybody wants a free lunch, it’s no wonder that most apps have gone free with ads. Charging for your app may seem profitable, but it could deter users from downloading it in the first place. Consider other monetization methods such as in-app advertising, so your users feel like they are getting the most for their (zero) bucks.
Mistake #3: Taking too long to release the app
Distill your idea to its bare minimum, then develop and release the app as soon as possible, and at minimal cost. You or your developer can use Agile to update as you go. Seek product validation with each improvement, and customers will be happy to have received your app so quickly. If you take too long to release the app, you run the risk of another developer coming out with something better, faster, or the evolution and loss of your target market.
Mistake #4: Failing to update and fix bugs
If you’re working with a developer, ensure that the app is thoroughly tested prior to release, so you can avoid disappointed users and lost business. For those with some technical knowledge, Ruby on Rails, Django, and other web frameworks aid in updating, fixing, and preventing bugs. While it’s important to listen to your users’ feedback and make the necessary fixes, it’s even more essential to check the app yourself. It’s better to find bugs yourself than to leave them for your users to find.
Mistake #5: Using a poor design and interface
App design and user interface (UI) will be the first thing people notice. If design is inconsistent, visually unappealing, or looks too much like another app, users will often be turned off and find an app with a more professional look.
Mistake #6: Delivering a poor user experience (UX)
Having an intuitive and user-friendly mobile app is important for users to feel comfortable. Recruit various demographics in your target market to test the app for usability. Make sure they can easily understand and navigate all aspects of the app.
Mistake #7: Failing to follow terms (iOS, in particular)
In order to sell your app in the App Store (and reach millions of iOS users), you need to comply with Apple’s strict rules governing the look and function of the app, as well as other features. For Androids, Windows, and all other operating systems, make sure to stay within the terms set by the app seller. Non-compliance may result in your app being removed.
Mistake #8: Failing to market
You could develop the greatest, most useful, best looking, and free mobile app anyone has ever seen, but if you don’t form some sort of following, people won’t know about it. Spread the word the same way you would for product validation. Get people excited about using your app.
Mistake #9: Failing to monetize
Consider the best way to monetize your app in a way that your customers will be glad to use—and pay for. In-app purchases, monthly memberships, advertisements, and upgrades are just some options.
Mistake #10: Not making app-to-app linking possible or easy
If your app contains links to another app, or is able to be used with another app, you’ll need a cross-platform solution. The new applinks.org is a great tool for making your mobile app compatible with other apps. It makes UX a lot easier and more enjoyable, too, so users don’t have to leave your app in order to use the other one.
Web and mobile app development are the Wild West of our age — if you find a niche that needs to be filled, you must be fast, cheap, and stylish. Use these tips to develop your small business app and avoid the common mistakes that can cause setbacks.
Megan Totka is the chief editor for ChamberofCommerce.com which helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Contact Megan at [email protected] and follow her at @MeganTotka.