[Checklist] How to Prepare for Mobile App Development
What do most enterprise companies want from app development? Ultimately, a finished product with minimised costs, delivered in the shortest timeframe possible. However, there are a lot of components to the app development process that must be carefully planned to ensure a successful deployment.
Making the move to mobile is a smart strategy for companies looking to stay competitive in the modern marketplace. However, developing an app for your business can be challenging without the right strategy in place. A mobile app development project comprises of many tasks, processes and milestones. As such, the development process is best approached in a series of small steps. The following mobile app development checklist will help to prepare you for the future development of your mobile app; enabling you to launch your project in a manageable way.
#1 Define the app
It is important to prepare a short description of your app, conveying the core idea in simple terms, to help define your concept to others. Start by broadly defining the app and try to answer some of the following:
- What is the app about?
- What are your expectations for the app?
- How will it work?
- How can it engage and be useful to end users?
#2 Identify target users
Arguably the most important part of the pre-development process is determining who your audience is. For example, if you are building an app for employees, the requirements will be very different from an app designed for customers. Therefore, it is imperative for success to have a clear understanding of your potential users and those you specifically want to target.
Don’t waste your time and resources creating an app for the sake of creating an app. Instead, invest time and effort into thorough research of your target audience. Who is your audience? What are their needs? How can you design an app to match these needs? A clearly defined target audience will not only help inform your design decisions but will also allow you to effectively market your app later on.
#3 Conduct competitor research
Unless your app concept is niche or highly unique, there is a good chance that you will find similar apps in the marketplace. It is important to use this to your advantage. Competitor research can help ensure you don’t create an app like everyone else’s. When evaluating competitor apps, consider answering the following:
- Why is the app successful?
- Why do people want the app? (Look at the reviews, blog posts, etc.)
- What is the competitive advantage of the app?
Make sure to understand the problem your competitor’s apps solve, the features they have, how they function, and how they can be improved. From this, you will have a good idea of the competitive landscape and can highlight any potential gaps or opportunities in the market.
#4 Identify key project stakeholders
Effective communication and collaboration is crucial for successful app development. There needs to be a good understanding of who is in charge of what. For example, who is the project manager and who will communicate with external contacts such as developers.
Starting with the internal champion, branch out and consider those who will be involved with on a regular basis. Then, outline and set clear expectations and responsibilities for the project. It is also important to identify who the final decision makers are and the approval process that is in place.
#5 Choose to build or buy
Another important part of app development is auditing your IT team to determine whether or not they have the skills and resources required to build your app. More often than not, it is more viable to hire an external development firm to take over the process. Vendors who specialise in mobile app development can often deliver higher quality apps quicker than it would be possible with an internal team.
When choosing a developer firm, it is important to consider their reputation, reviews and portfolio. Bear in mind that, when it comes to app development, cheaper is not always better and this is generally reflected in the quality of the app.
#6 Develop a project budget
App development is a significant financial cost that requires a great deal of planning and careful consideration prior to jumping in. Therefore, deciding on a budget upfront is integral to your app project. Once you set a project budget you can then prioritise the critical features and requirements of your app.
It is important to set aside a realistic budget for your app. A recent survey by Clutch revealed that the cost of mobile app development ranges between $30,000 to $700,000, with a calculated median cost of $171,450. If budget is a concern, it may be worthwhile looking into an app development platform rather than a custom development approach.
#7 Pick a platform
Android or iOS? This is one of the most pressing questions in app development. Pay close attention to details, because each medium has a different set of specifications such as registration, submission fees, assets and even sizing for icons and screenshots. Work out early what your goals are and which platform your audience tends to use most – from this the answer should come fairly easy.
There are benefits to limiting the app to just one platform, such as decreasing costs. However, developing for multiple platforms will ultimately increase adoption opportunities. If you decide to pursue multiple platforms, prioritise which one to develop for first based on your target users and requirements. Another more affordable option is to leverage a cross-platform app development approach.
#8 Consider app branding
It is important to create and design branding for your app before development begins. Dedicated app branding will also help strengthen your marketing strategy later down the road. Consider what logos, colours and fonts will be used. How does this align with your core brand? Remember your app is a branding tool for your business, so it is essential that your app is designed to match your brand.
#9 Choose a monetisation strategy
Choosing the right app monetisation strategy is never easy and completely dependent on your business and objectives. However, it is critical to decide on your approach early in the process so that app features can be planned and developed accordingly.
There are lots of ways to make money in apps, some of the most popular include: in-app advertising, in-app purchases, freemium, and paid app. Offering a free basic app is a popular strategy for hooking users in and increasing traction. If users enjoy the app and feel it offers them value, many will be happy to pay for in-app purchases to unlock content, premium features or even purchase an ad-free version.
#10 Create wireframes
It is important to develop a set of rough wireframes either during or before development so that your developers can grasp a thorough understanding of your project and expectations.Wireframing is a crucial step for visualising and defining the scope of an app and its functionality. Wireframes are essentially blueprints that detail each screen within your app, as well as the general flow users will follow.
#11 Request a prototype
It is recommended you request a prototype from your developers to ensure you are completely satisfied with their work and your app concept. A mobile app prototype is an interactive demo that portrays the design, functionality, and user flow of an app.
Requesting a prototype will allow you to collaborate and iterate quickly and efficiently, helping you to address any concerns about the features or usability of your app. There are three ways in which prototype creation drastically assists the app development process:
- By making calculated decisions prior to development, costs are saved further down the line.
- Developing an app prototype can also save time.
- Prototyping is a powerful tool that can be used for showcasing your app idea to potential investors and gathering early-stage investment.
#12 Discuss app security
If user data is going to be collected via your app then security is a priority. As such, it is important to have discussions about app security and how your developers plan to mitigate risks. Users need to feel safe, so check how sensitive information will be entered and stored within the app. Do your developers implement comprehensive security protocols? What practices do they have in place for data protection?
#13 Consider offline functionality
Naturally, the majority of apps rely on the availability of an Internet connection. As such, it is important to decide whether your users will need access to data offline, as this might impact your development options and strategy.
Access to features and content offline provides a significant advantage and allows you to continue fostering an uninterrupted positive user experience which is essential for app success. If you choose to have offline capabilities in your app, be sure to check with your developers.
#14 Keep analytics in mind
The data that can be leveraged from your app is extremely valuable and as such, it is important to check that your developers support inbuilt app analytics. Understanding user motives, the most popular features or pathways, and who your users are useful insights that can help you make the right strategic decisions and focus your marketing efforts in the right place. Not only this, app analytics can help guide any future app updates, ensuring your app’s functionality and usability.
#15 Consider post-launch support
Once your app is launched in the marketplace it will eventually require updates and maintenance like bug fixes. What level of support do your developers offer after your app has launched? It is important to consider the level of support and maintenance that you will require and ensure that your developers can provide this.
#16 Develop a localisation strategy
If you plan to launch your app worldwide, you should also be prepared to develop your app with localisation in mind. This means changing the language depending on location, ensuring your app is accessible to all your markets. If this isn’t in the works for the initial launch, then plan for it in an update later down the track.
#17 Create a marketing plan
Don’t make the mistake of starting your marketing plan once your app is developed. Successful apps are promoted well before they hit the app store. It is important to pick an appropriate launch date for your app. This allows you to plan development timelines and marketing activities around the release schedule. As such, it is recommended to divide your app marketing plan into 3 campaign phases: pre-launch, launch and post-launch.
A solid marketing plan will help drive new app installs and re-engage target users. Marketing your app requires planning and leveraging a range of marketing mediums and techniques. For example, App Store Optimisation is just one way to ensure your apps discovery among your target audience.
Thinking through this checklist will help you create the right app development plan for your mobile project. With a comprehensive plan in place, you will be able to move through the process efficiently, minimising potential time loss and wasted resources.
Have you found the right app development platform to execute your mobile strategy?
At Liquid State, we understand the importance of implementing enterprise mobile apps as a part of corporate strategy. Our platform empowers businesses to build native cross-platform apps for a variety of business functions. To find out what Liquid State can do for your business, get in touch with us today.