Few weeks ago I read a CleverTap article that says 28% of the global apps are uninstalled after 30 days, 21% of apps are used once during the first 6 months. That got me thinking, "What happened?". For some reason, those people downloaded the app from the App Store. They certainly noticed something interesting in it. I have deepened the research, and I found out that lack of value, low engagement, and unfriendly design are the most common reasons. How to deal with those difficulties? Well, app owners should focus on building a successful app from the very beginning of software development. This article will show you how to do that.
Table of Contents:
What "success" means to you and your business?
First of all, you need to know what success means to you. Every company should have goals defined before starting the mobile app development process. "What is the goal of your mobile application?" - this is the first question our Business Efficiency Experts asks potential clients. When it comes to defining project goals, I recommend to keep it S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-related) or even S.M.A.R.T.E.R. (Evaluated, Reviewed). It will help you stay focused on the main aims and develop the app in the right direction.
I am sure that earning money is highly essential, so achieving financial aims can be noticed as a success. But it shouldn't be the only goal of your project. Your app idea has to resonate with the users. That's why it is worth describing business-related goals and measuring whether your application is growing in numbers. Which KPIs are worth following? Number of daily/monthly/yearly active users, time users spend using the application, position in the App Store, user lifetime value, etc.
How to create a successful mobile app?
Once you know your success definition and goals, we can move forward and determine which factors impact the mobile apps' success. We have to go through the whole process of mobile app development, from validation of the app idea to describing the marketing strategy.
Step 1. Validate your app idea
Every day, users are searching the Google Play and Apple App Store to find mobile applications that will answer their needs by solving their problems or improving their lives. You have to be aware that each App Store contains thousands of various mobile apps. Your application has to stand out from the crowd by giving value. I am sure that an effective app idea validation will allow you to find the proper niche.
So, how to validate the app idea? We already have the whole article about this, but I will introduce the subject briefly. First of all, you have to determine whether your mobile application idea solves the real problem. To do that, you have to perform background research and conduct a reliable competitor analysis. The next step is to create User Personas and User Journeys for your mobile app idea. It is all about getting a closer look at potential users. The last step focuses on the functionalities of the project. You have to distinguish those functions that respond to the user needs and are essential to launching a product.
Why is it necessary to validate the app idea first?
"Validating the app idea is the first step on the way to build an application. Think about the market and your target users. What problems will your app solve? Conduct solid market research first, built personas and user journeys. Be ready with a business plan before starting actual development. Then, start listing functionalities needed for an MVP with help from the tech team. Test the MVP first and gather customers' feedback".
Joanna Brzezińska-Wajda, Business Efficiency Manager
Remember, during the app idea validation, you can not skip the step of identifying your target audience. It's hard to create a successful app without knowing for whom we create it. App users are an important part of your business. Make sure your mobile application is something they need on their devices.
Step 2. Choose the right technology stack & software partner
Technology stack is highly important for an efficient app development process, and it should be selected individually for each mobile project. Why? Depending on whether you need an e-commerce platform, marketing automation, social networking, or food tech app, the technology should fit the specific project needs.
The second important thing is that technology should allow developing your mobile application in any direction. I am sure that, as the application grows, you will need to implement new features, updates, and changes. Choosing the right technology can be challenging for non-technical persons because it requires knowing the latest news and app development trends. That's why it is worth consulting this decision with the professional development team. You can do it through free Software Strategy Workshops.
How to create a mobile app? Well, you need a development team. You can build the software team in-house, hire a freelancer or software house. The first option will be time-consuming (because of the recruitment process and technical skills checking) and more expensive.
How long does it usually take to hire a developer in-house?
"The time needs to be spent on searching for a good software developer may vary. It's worth considering that it's not a simple and rapid process. Sometimes it takes a month, other times 2 weeks. The tech position recruitment brings a few steps, like: a list of requirements preparation & candidate profile creation, the offer publishing, CV's collection & TOP Talents catching from the created base, code reviewing, technical & soft skills checking, formalities setting. Entrusting that process to professionals seems to be a good solution and a sure way of finding the best software developer. However, only cooperation with the "readymade" tech team will undoubtedly result in your project's success."
Iwona Walczak, HR Manager
While choosing the external partner, there are a few factor worth consideration:
- Portfolio - How many successful mobile projects the company/freelancer already finished?
- Size of the project - Does one person (freelancer) will be able to handle the whole project, or you need a few people?
- Budget - How much money are you ready to spend on the app development?
- Project development & support - Will a software house/freelancer's business environment allow you to develop your mobile app in the future?
- Security - Does the freelancer/software house have well-tested security practices?
- Quality - Does the potential IT partner understand how to meet your product business goals with reliable code?
- Communication - Are you able to talk with the developer using the tech language, or do you need a Project Manager?
Fragment of Railwaymen's review on Clutch.co posted by Tim Jones, Founder & CEO, LaunchMatic.
Step 3. Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) means releasing the most basic version of a mobile application that still delivers value to the customers. During the app implementation, the development team focuses on the most important app features necessary to reach the application goals. The MVP approach is opposite to the idea of building an extensive, full of features product.
What are the benefits of MVP? You save time and money because your product will appear faster on the app market. The risk of failure is reduced because issues are detected in the early stage of app development. Thanks to MVP, you can collect feedback from the target audience and update the app according to their preferences. Your product is flexible and can respond to the market, marketing, and sales needs. As a software house, we recommend working in an agile software development way because it gives better control over the app project and improves the chances of app success.
Why is it worth building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
"I see an MVP as a process or philosophy even. It is invaluable during the development of a digital product, but not only. My opinion is based on my hands-on experience rather than theory. I think the most important arguments for creating a Minimum Valuable Product are: people - who will be able to change our UX assumptions quickly, market - which, like people, will verify our business assumptions, time - that is significantly shortened compared to the full application, money - that is saved (usually a lot) and, of course, that is spent (usually less). As you can see, the most important things in business or live benefit from building an MVP, so I deeply encourage all those who have an idea for a product to follow an MVP path."
Michał Milczarczyk, Head of Operations
Step 4. Focus on the User Experience
User Experience is about emotions that users feel while using the mobile app. If you look at the most popular and successful mobile application in the Apple App Store, such as ZOOM, Discord, Tik Tok, Instagram, you'll quickly notice that they have one thing in common - well-designed and friendly app interface. User Experience is crucial, and to build it, we have to implement the UX/UI design process during the mobile app development.
Why is User Experience necessary during the app development?
"User experience is all the emotions and feelings that people experience when using our product. Start designing an application by asking yourself two important questions: Who will use this product, and why will they use it? Gather as much information as possible about the people for whom you will design your product: who they are, what they like, what frustrates them, what problems do they face, and how they can be solved. Based on this knowledge, it will be easier to design a product that will meet their needs, and its use will be easy and pleasant for users."
Anna Osewska, Senior UI/UX Designer
At Railwaymen, we have defined a structured UX/UI Desing process. What are its benefits? It encourages the target audience to install the app on their mobile devices, ensure a simple and enjoyable experience to users, achieve application goals, extend the time users spent in the application, and highlight the app from the thousands of competitors. No doubt, achieving success without investing in UX/UI Design is impossible. Nowadays, users expect the highest quality mobile apps. That's why our UX Designers focus on building a usable app interface that will meet the app goals.
Step 5. Test the app carefully before launching
There is a reason why I mention quality in point two. Your mobile application has to be reliable and bug-free. Launching the defective mobile application is unprofessional and will irritate the users. Unfortunately, many clients think that they are able to test the application by themselves. It is not so simple as it sounds. Quality Assurance Specialists spend hours testing various mobile applications every day. They use a set of professional tools that finds even the smallest, inconspicuous errors.
Quality Assurance service is an important part of mobile app development and brings a lot of business benefits to the client. It saves time and money because bugs are quickly detected, and app development can smoothly go forward. QA prevents breakdowns that can have a costly impact on company finances and increases the application's safety level. Basically, QA ensures long time profits that have a positive impact on the application image. Thanks to the QA, you can be sure that your target audience will use a reliable application. Monetization of the app will be much easier in that case. I strongly recommend you to check whether your software partner can guarantee a Quality Assurance service for your mobile app.
Why is the neglecting of Quality Assurance a danger?
“Quality Assurance Specialists focus on detecting app bugs and errors that appear in the development process. Neglecting this process may have negative consequences. The situation in which unexpected and undetected issues appear can cost you time and money because it will require more work-hours from developers. Finding and fixing the bug during the conceptual level takes about 90% less time according to finding and fixing the same error during production level. Launching the not-reliable application will discourage users from using it. QA is a long time profit that works for your app reputation.”
Tadeusz Sławik, QA Specialist
Step 6. Do not forget about app maintenance
Mobile app development goes through several stages, from developers brainstorming, programming, testing to launching the product and maintaining the application. Why should you care about app maintenance? Well, even if you'll release the product and users will respond to it positively, it does not mean that they are willing to use it forever. As an app owner, you have to keep an eye on market and competitors trends and implement the updates to keep your product attractive. I guess you want to run a business and earn money in the coming years, so your mobile application needs to deliver value constantly.
Why is app maintenance important?
"After releasing the application, it's important to constantly check and monitor how it works in terms of performance, unexpected errors, and user traffic. How many users are accessing the app? What kind of actions or pages are used the most? What was the peak in traffic? Are there any problems users are facing using the app? Such information can give you valuable insights for future adjustments and the next phase of development."
Kamil Baćkowski, Chief Technology Officer
Thanks to the service of maintenance, you can develop your IT product in any direction needed. Adding new features allows your business to grow and answer to current users needs. Need proof? One of our latest projects, James Marketing Amplifier (Marketing Automation web application for law industry), started to quickly gain new customers, so we had to implement the statistics function that tracks the numbers of logins, length of sessions, etc. Thanks to that, Managers from James Marketing Amplifier can analyze the application's efficiency and improve it.
I dare say that every mobile application needs a maintenance service nowadays because Google and Apple regularly update their operating systems. Your app will need to be customized to those updates every year. Otherwise, the application may be interrupted. App maintenance also defends from bugs and cyber attacks. It has a significant impact on the app image and encourages users to install and use the app regularly. The cost of the maintenance service may vary because it's related to the application scope.
Step 7. Set up the marketing and sales strategy
Launching the mobile application is the beginning of its business journey. To achieve success, you need to prepare monetization, sales and digital marketing strategies. One of the most crucial factors that will impact on your marketing and sales approach is whether your software is dedicated to B2B (Business-to-Business) or B2C (Business-to-Customer). Communication with those two groups of app users is radically different. As you can see, once again, I mentioned the app users. Knowing the target users is crucial to succeeding with mobile apps. We need it to validate the app idea during designing User Experience and building an effective marketing strategy.
When it comes to the mobile app promotion, which methods are the most effective?
"From my marketing point of view, mobile app promotion should be an integral part of your whole business plan. It has to be combined with the pre-development part - called Discovery Phase, where you are preparing in-depth appropriate research based on your competitor's analysis, creating a buyer persona, and making sure your targeted group will use your application. Having this plan will make it easier to create consistent marketing communication and potential paths to reach the end-user."
Anna Klepacka, Head of Marketing
There are many ways of promoting mobile apps, and we have a complete guide about it. One fundamental step for every successful app is to make sure that it appears in a high position in an App Store's search results. It is the first place where people are searching for an app. The higher rank in the Google Play and Apple App Store, the biggest chance that users will find it.
You also have to prepare the proper monetization and sales strategy. I am sure that you know a bunch of successful mobile apps that are currently conquering the app market. There are plenty of ways you can make money through mobile apps. A few of them: running ads, setting up a subscription model, making app paid from the very beginning, or affiliation. For example, most of the free games in the App Stores earn money through In-App Purchase. Which earning method is the best for you? You need to know that.
Fortunately, online tools can help make running your business. Download our free ebook that shows 14 examples of apps that will help you achieve success:
How does the mobile application market look like nowadays?
Knowing the environment you'll need to deal with is essential. Let's take a look at numbers. In 2020 we reached over 2.7 billion smartphone users worldwide, and this number is constantly growing. Furthermore, over 1.3 billion people have a tablet. It is expected that in 2020 worldwide revenue from mobile apps will reach almost 582 billion U.S dollars and the estimation for 2023 say about 935 billion U.S. dollars via paid downloads and in-app advertising. Those numbers say that the mobile app market is thriving. No wonder so many business owners are hungry for success in the mobile app industry.
How to create a successful mobile app? Conclusion
Many factors impact the app success. The extraordinary app idea is the seed of success. Your product has to deliver value constantly. To succeed with a mobile app, you need to observe market trends, users' needs and behavior. Be open to the users' feedback and react quickly. Don't be afraid of extending the app if it's needed. As your business is based on technology and app development, choosing the right development team is crucial.
To sum up, I can give you a few final tips:
- Start with a relevant app idea that has been verified.
- Make sure you know and understand your target users.
- Choose the software partner that will ensure relevant and comprehensive service: MVP in Agile Software Development, UX/UI Design Process, Quality Assurance and Maintenance.
- Focus on app monetization, marketing and sales strategy that will work for your business niche.
As you can see, creating a successful app is a process. Learning about other success is always a good idea. Willing to know how our clients created their successful apps? Check the project in our portfolio that already gained a wide number of customers in the United States: