5 Important Things to Consider When Planning a Mobile App

mobile-apps-miami-beachThis is not just any week: it’s the last week in November.  This is the week where we all become acutely aware that there are only 5 weeks until the end of the year, and really only about 3 of those are going to be productive for most of us.  So I will make this morning’s article short and sweet. If you have a great idea for a mobile app for your business or organization here are five important questions you should consider as you write up your brief:

1)      What is/are the main commercial aim(s) of the app?

If you are a business, you need an app that is either a standalone product you can sell, a platform to promote your existing products or a way to generate mobile advertising revenue.

Revenue Stream: Apps that you sell directly to smartphone users are generally some of the best looking, innovative and frequently updated apps on the market.  They have to be addicting: either highly entertaining or extremely useful.  Since they act as standalone products that users pay for in advance, it is in your best interest to make sure that you spend the resources to give these users the kind of game/software they will spend a lot of time using be willing to share with others. Wondering what to charge per download?  The average mobile app is about $1.55 although your average iPhone gaming app is $.99 for your typical game app made for the iPhone device.  A marketing budget is also essential.  With nearly 1,000 apps entering the market per day, you will need a pretty big bull horn to get the attention of the punters.

Promotion Platform/POS: Apps that perform the role of promotional “platform” need to be simple and to the point yet convenient enough to keep your clients coming back for more. Apps in this category range from store loyalty apps to apps that allow clients to place actual orders directly from their devices.  The key to convenience lies in functionality.  As long as people feel that an app makes life easier, they keep using it.  So to hold onto your market share, keep these “platform” apps upgraded and make sure they are mapped well to as many devices as possible.

Advertising Space: When you hope to sell advertising space on your app you need to first gather a broad base of users.  In the future (by 2017 according to Strategy Analytics) the average app will cost only 8 cents, with most of them bei ng offered for free. Luckily for app owners, mobile ad technology is getting even better.  Many of the measuring and tracking and retargeting technologies used on the web are now being applied to smartphone usage.  In fact certain features such as push notifications allow you to send very targeted messages to users – even if they have turned your app off!  Of course this can be an alarming invasion of a user’s personal space, but if used tactfully can sometimes provide information that the user finds interesting or useful.

2)      How will different users experience my app?

Where are your users, are they male or female, what is their age and what devices are they most likely to have?  Based on the answers to these questions you may decide to create multilingual interfaces, different versions for iOS/ Android/mobile web, integrate with certain “niche” social networks like LinkedIn or Pinterest or wait until a critical mass is using your app and only charge a fee to the late adopters.  In some cases, different app versions can be rolled out to different user groups, if these versions are made at the same time, then the development costs can be much lower as they are likely to share some creative and functional elements.  For example, if you have a designer that has created the graphics and story boards for smartphone screens, ask her to make another version that can be rendered with optimal proportions for tablets.

3)      How does my main website compare in look, feel and functionality to my app(s)?

When it comes to the so-called native apps for iOS and Android, users still expect something much better than their current website.  However, many companies and organizations are asking us to provide “web apps” by which they mean a mobile friendly website that appears only when a smartphone or tab browser is detected.  This is best done as an adaptive website – one that detects the browser visiting your domain name and displays images, text and functionality based on the size of the users screen.  This means that your main website may have to be upgraded to include the modern features available in your mobile apps.  Although this might seem like a large undertaking, there are significant economies of scale in making a website that scales down adaptively to a small screen.  You will be feeding two birds with one bag of seeds: getting a new modern website and a new mobile application at the same time!

4)      How big (literally) will my app be?

Apps unlike websites don’t have the stringent size restrictions and you are able to pack in more high resolution images and functionality then you may consider using on your traditional website.  Given that the app is downloaded ahead of time and resides on your smartphone, you don’t have to worry about large data being passed through the internet.  Apps that accumulate stored data with each session can sometimes eat up a lot of storage so you do want to be kind and not bog down your users phones.  Remember that the typical iPhone or top-of-the-line Samsung ‘Droid device has between 16GB and 32GB. If your app is a behemoths, then consider making it smaller so as not to scare away some smartphone users from the initial download.

5)      How long do I want my app to remain relevant?

If there is one thing that 20 years of the Internet has taught us, it’s that users are fickle.  Devices, games, software and social networks continue to work long after they have lost popularity.  It is estimated that up to 75% of apps are inactive and may never be downloaded by anyone again. So the key is to make sure your app stays near the top of the pile.  While no one knows for sure what the market will be like in a year’s time, we can predict some things over the 4-6 months.  Next week, we will look at some trends we are likely to see in 2013.  Good developers like Certatim can give you the tools to upgrade your apps to keep them relevant long after others have become historical footnotes.

With these questions asked and answered you are now ready to submit the brief for your app concept to a decent developer like Certatim.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Parker Lake
Director of  Business Development

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We develop the technical stuff behind clever web ad campaigns. We make create great websites. We also build great business productivity software. Certatim believes that simple ideas make money. Call us +1 866.846.8730 or email us sales@certatim.com.