Tuesday, 10 January 2017

7 Factors to Consider Before Launching a Mobile Application

                                                            Image Source: Aumcore.com

Did you know that worldwide app downloads are forecasted to reach nearly 270 billion in 2017? Or that the average app user in the US downloaded 8.8 apps per month in 2014? There are many apps out there and many more to come. These apps are filtered into categories that range from entertainment to communication. They’re used by children, teens, adults, and are now being made by businesses for businesses.

Mobile Applications For Your Business

Considering that 90% of consumers’ mobile time is spent using apps, incorporating mobile apps in your business plan is a smart marketing move in the mobile-first world we live in. You can:

●   Improve the customer service experience by making use of AI and including a chatbot function that allows you to service many customers at the same time 

●   Provide more value to your customers and increase repeated visits by including coupons, promotions, or loyalty reward programs as an app feature 

●   Increase engagement by adding geo-location during the mobile application development process and sending special offers to customers who are in your vicinity
Before adding features, though, you need to consider seven factors that will help you out as you develop and launch your app.

What Should I Consider?

1. Market Research

Your first objective is to research the market. Get a feel for the atmosphere and see where you fit. How will your app change the way people live their day? Make sure that your app provides a benefit for people to use. Follow trends and discover who your competitors are. What are they doing? Build on what they’re doing right and improve on they’re doing wrong.

2. Marketing to Your Users

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You’ll have an idea of who your ideal user is after conducting market research. Use this information and market to them. How can you improve their lives and their interactions with your brand? Everyone’s needs are different and you need to know who you’re trying to help.

3. Platforms

    Image Source: goodworklabs.com

In a perfect world you have unlimited resources and can develop an application on all platforms from the get-go. With a finite amount of money you have to decide in which platform your app will perform better. If you’re thinking of going with an enterprise app, iOS is a more secure option. Apple has an iOS Developer Enterprise Program and recently announced a partnership with IBM for mobile enterprise apps. If you want more access to the software, Android is best. It has an open source operating system that allows for modifications. You also have to consider programming languages. iOS uses Objective-C, Android uses Java, Windows Mobile uses C++, and web apps use a combination of JavaScript, HTML 5, CSS3, and so on.

4. Native vs. Mobile Web

Before debating which platform you want your app to target, you have to decide if you want to create a native or mobile web app. Native apps can use device-specific hardware such as the camera, accelerometer and flashlight, and are installed directly in the device itself. They’re essentially developed for one particular platform and need the app store’s approval before being distributed. It’s a long process, but results in safer, more secure apps. Mobile web apps, on the other hand, are internet-enabled apps that are accessible through the device’s web browser. They’re easier to maintain and require no prior approval before distribution, a combination that results in less spending. They can also access a limited amount of the device’s hardware. If you’re undecided you can always go for a hybrid app that’s built with a combination of technologies like JavaScript, HTML and CSS. They’re hosted inside of a native app that uses a mobile device’s browser to display content and can be made to target multiple platforms.

5. User Interface (UI) Design

                                                             Image Source: blog.fluidui.com

UI design involves the elements that are used to interact with mobile apps. It’s how they function. It’s the tangible part of the app and includes the screens, buttons, and any other component that guides the user’s experience. If we’re using a vehicular analogy it would be the engine, the seats, the stereo, and anything else that contributes to the car’s structure.

6. User Experience (UX) Design

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If UI is the engine and seats, UX would be the experience of driving the car. It’s more conceptual and focuses on the user’s journey as they navigate through the app. Don Norman, the cognitive scientist who coined the term, said that "user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” It’s the process as a whole; the sequence of actions, thoughts, and impressions a user goes through as they interact with you app.

7. Testing

Testing is essential with mobile application development. With proper feedback you can fix potential bugs before they becomes a bigger issue. Who’s your ideal user? If you have a targeted audience, you’ll benefit from a private beta launch in which a select few will be able to test the app before launching. If, instead, your audience is broad and diverse, you’ll do best with an open beta launch. You can also use services like Apple’s TestFlight that send mobile apps to internal or external beta testers for feedback.

When you finish testing you’ll have an idea on where you’re with the whole mobile application development process. You might encounter bugs that need patching or feedback that pushes you to revamp the app’s interface. But before you do any of this, do your research, find a target audience, choose a platform and the design you want to use, and be sure to create a memorable experience for your app’s users.

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