Top 5 Things You Need to Know Before Developing a Mobile App
December 19, 2013

So, you’re thinking about developing a mobile app, but you are not sure where to start? Before you jump into the app development process, take a look at this list of the top five points you should ponder, chosen by a top app development team that walks the app walk every day – Barefoot Solutions.

1. First, choose your platform

The most popular mobile platforms today are iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and Mobile Web. The mobile platform(s) on which you develop your app depends largely on whether you want a web mobile, hybrid, or native app. Do most of your current and potential customers use iPhones, or do they use all types of smartphones? Do your research carefully so you know what platform will best meet the needs of your unique customer base.

2. Big decision number 2 – Decide what type of mobile app you want – Mobile web, hybrid or native.

If you’re not sure what works for which, here is a really simple breakdown for you.

Mobile web apps are fundamentally mobile versions of websites. They make websites easier to read, track through and interact with on phones and tablets.

Hybrid or cross-platform apps are coded and then wrapped for whatever mobile platforms you choose, using a framework like PhoneGap or Titanium Appcelerator. They allow for some very interesting give and take because they provide for cross-platform compatibility and can use the phone’s hardware (camera, GPS, user’s contacts). And it’s a timesaver because you only code the app once and can deploy across the various platforms.

Native apps are coded in the native language of a specific mobile operating system, like Objective-C for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch apps. For apps that are a bit more complex and have a tad more interactivity, the native programming language provides a faster and more responsive experience. Native apps are speedy, dependable, and brawny. Still to date, games are mostly native apps.

3. Here’s the question that should define exactly what makes your app uniquely yours – what would you want your users to be able to do?

Write a detailed description of each and every basic function you want your app to perform and why. Sound daunting? Try writing it out as a user story. Start by filling in the blank: “I want my users to be able to ____”. Every top thing you want to do within the app should be outlined, defined, and explored. And you know you have a picture in your head of what you want it to look like – colors, graphics, etc. Put that in your description too.

Once you have laid out all this detail about your app in a descriptive narrative, you will be able to get a much clearer idea of how much it will cost to develop.

Oh, and remember that your first user story should just outline your minimum viable product, meaning that you should try to limit the features of the app to the “must haves” and think about postponing the “want to haves” for another version of the app. This will keep your initial costs down and will open up the door to some fast adoption rates and really good user feedback from the initial release. That way, the next release can include some user wishes that maybe weren’t something you’ve thought of already.

4. Know your user demographic.

You already know what you want your app to do, so who do you think is going to use it? Why? What age group? How much money do they have to spend? What kinds of smartphones do they use? What general interests/shopping habits do they have? How plugged in are they? Investigate the market, read pertinent blogs, ask questions, observe – and get your answers.

5. And, finally, there is this to consider – if you want to make money on your app, you need a monetization or pricing strategy.

Will your app be free, free with in-app purchases, ad-supported, or paid? If paid, how much are you planning on charging for it? How will you charge? One time? As a subscription? Per use? There are many things to consider when coming up with your pricing strategy and it is really important that you think long and hard about the pricing question before you start. With no valid pricing engine in place, your app can derail pretty swiftly.

Let’s wrap it up here and underline a few points

Your marketing plan plays a big part in all of this, but especially when developing your pricing strategy. Your app, no matter how stupendous, will not sell itself. You’ll need a strong app marketing plan that will help generate a rock-solid fan base of engaged and delighted users. Build all your marketing costs into your equation – both pre and post launch marketing.

Think, think, and think about your demographic. How much money do they have to spend? What smartphones do they use? iPhone users tend to spend more on apps, but maybe your app is more targeted toward the larger Android market.

Not just the demographic conundrum, but each of these five points should be really mulled over, look at again and again – and thought about in tandem with each other before you go forward with developing your mobile application.

A final note – – – Once you are headed down the app path, you may realize that you need a little guidance from a top scale mobile development group – like Barefoot Solutions. Because they walk the app path every day, they know every twist and turn, every potential hazard and have a clear view to the ideal final destination.

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