For companies creating an app for the first time, the road to the final product may be hard to navigate and full of unexpected obstacles. Transforming your idea into a market-ready app is possible, with the right development partner and a clear understanding of potential problems that can plague the app development process.
We’ve assembled the following list of common pitfalls and, based on our experience developing hundreds of apps, offer our guidance for avoiding them.
Pitfall #1: Failing to Validate the Need
The success of your app depends on converting app downloads into customer engagement. In order to achieve that, your app needs to deliver services that fit actual (not assumed) customer problems.
Apps that thrive today do so because their creators recognized unmet customer needs. Take Instagram as an example. When the app debuted, its primary function was letting users check-in to locations, make plans for meeting up with friends, and sharing pictures. But those capabilities were already available through FourSquare, which was wildly popular at the time. To survive, the company pivoted and created Instagram, which stripped the app back to its photo sharing and tagging capabilities (something FourSquare lacked).
Instagram had to backtrack and validate the need after releasing an initial product, but your company may be able to get it right the first time if you start by truly empathizing with your target user. They key is selecting a development partner that has expertise in customer research and CX (customer experience).
Pitfall #2: Not Investing in an Architect
You may be considering having your internal team design and release your app to the market to minimize your initial investment. But consider the amount of time that your internal team would be able to dedicate to the app. For most, app development will be competing with other responsibilities. Application architects are able to build and deploy the app more quickly, as well as provide the necessary maintenance and support your customers will expect after the app is released. Drawing from their work developing other apps for other companies, mobile architects know how to leverage the latest technologies and avoid the common obstacles that slow down development. If there is a bug or system failure, the architect team you’ve partnered with can be there to fix the problem with 24/7 availability. Overall, partnering with an architect gives you a faster product delivery and stability in application performance.
Pitfall #3: Failing to Think Through Onboarding
Forrester reveals that 75% of active users are lost within three days of an app’s installation. To prevent losing the customers you’ve worked so hard to attain, think through the signup process for your app. Create an easy and seamless signup process, followed by an intuitive introduction to the app that shows your users how to take advantage of app features. You should also have a strategy for encouraging customers to continuously engage with your app, which could involve push notifications or rewards points. Developing an effective onboarding plan should begin early, ideally long before your app’s launch date.
Pitfall #4: Disregarding Analytics
Data about how your customers are using your app is your most precious resource. Your business can analyze user behavior to create a roadmap for maximizing user engagement. What features are customers using? Which are they ignoring? How much time are they spending in the app, and at what point within the app experience do they exit? These data points should drive any product pivots. To take full advantage of mobile app analytics, it is important to have measures of evaluating app performance and user engagement that are both predetermined and dynamic.
Pitfall #5: Waiting too Long to Release
Speed to market is critical in our digital age. Delaying your product launch in order to include every feature on your wish list gives competitors an opportunity to launch first and capture your target audience. Instead of striving for production, develop a launch plan that begins with an MVP (minimal viable product). Then, apply user analytics to create incremental improvements to your product. The best course of action is to release early and update often. Look to release a minimally viable product as you first version.
To keep your app aligned with your business goals, keep watch for these common obstacles and take immediate action to correct them early in the development process.