Developing Your Business App

Developing Your Business App

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January 9, 2016

Even if you are not in the software industry, there are a number of reasons why you might decide that it’s a good idea to commence developing your business app. An app linked to your website, catalogue or list of services can help you engage with your customers, promote your products and services, and expand your customer base (more and more people are using mobile technology to seek out new products and services, if you’re fully mobile-enabled you stand a better chance of attracting them).

If you’re going to enter the world of app development, bear in mind that very few apps make money directly but the ones that do, tend to conform to the following criteria:

  • They are simple to use – intuitive and familiar in appearance a good app is good to go, right ‘out of the box’.
  • They are solution-focused – designed in response to a problem, the best apps are such good ‘solutions’ that the user is left unable to imagine their lives without it.
  • They are supported – as customer needs and hardware both change, so must the app with updates and improvements.
  • They are targeted – most successful apps focus on a single platform: iOS, Android, Windows, etc.
  • They are free – free apps get more downloads and make their money with either ‘in-app’ extras or follow-up orders and sales.

When it comes to the actual design, be aware of your project’s timing when developing your business app. Experts suggest it can take around 18 weeks to build the first version of your app – that’s to have a tested, functioning piece of downloadable software. That timespan doesn’t include the distribution and marketing required to get it onto customers’ smartphones.

The basic stages of app development are as follows:

  • Define your app’s purpose
  • Brainstorm your idea and key features
  • Research – other similar apps, technical necessities, marketing issues
  • Build a prototype (wireframing)
  • Design the back end (servers, APIs, data structure…)
  • Test the prototype
  • Build the back end
  • Design the final screens (the appearance, layout, visuals…)
  • More testing
  • Revision
  • Final refinements and tweaks
  • Release

As you can see, unless you have a degree of technical, design and programming ability, you’ll need skilled help for stages #4 to #11 at least; you may even decide to outsource the whole process, involving yourself only in the initial definition of concept and signing off the product at the finish.

When it comes to distribution, be strategic. With so many channels and outlets available it can be tempting to go for a scattershot approach but narrowing your focus may have better results. Similarly, if you’re aiming to have your app featured in Apple’s What’s Hot or New & Noteworthy lists (and why wouldn’t you?) then drumming up some media and press coverage is a route to getting attention that has worked in the past.

Don’t wait for the app to be ready, start marketing in advance with notices, demos and even beta testing. When it comes to launch day, giveaways, contests, press releases, and holding a launch day via your Facebook and Twitter accounts (and your physical store premises if you have them) are all methods of garnering positive attention. Commonly used (and effective) pricing tactics include offering a basic or stripped down version for free, then asking users to pay for extra features or premium releases. Finally, post-launch don’t forget to move your marketing strategy into its ongoing phase, maintaining user and potential user awareness, setting targets for uptake rates, and making periodic pushes to regularly boost user numbers.

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