Clients often approach us to build attractive mobile apps to appease a fictional group of customers. Although their intentions are good, the need for mobile apps is occasionally misunderstood.
“A mobile application is never a gimmick - an item on your product bucket list - to be sold to customers. It's a careful choice that you make based on user trends and real-world functionality.”
We love to help clients understand how an app would change the way they generate revenue and acquire customers. There have been plenty of occasions where customers move on to build web applications rather than mobile after discussing their end goal with our team.
If you are unsure of which way to proceed, here’s a quick feasibility check for your app idea with some of the most common FAQs every startup owner has before launching their mobile app.
How Do People Use Apps?
Deloitte reports that on average, American consumers look at their phones 52 times a day. That’s a lot of screen time dedicated to a mere 6 inches of glass.
This also means there is no real-time boundary for when a customer decides to reach out for your service. Competition to get customer attention is at an all-time high as well.
The duty of every enterprise, and in essence every mobile app developer, is to quickly deliver a solution that satisfies their clients, which in turn delights their customers in a really short time frame.
A lot goes into deciding what your app should look like, achieve, and feel like. If you are starting out on your app-building journey, here are some tips on how to properly research and validate your startup idea.
What Do Apps Do?
A mobile app is a highly customised solution a business offers to its customers. Think of it as a store that lives in your phone - one that's always open.
You know what a standard mobile app does. Here's some info on some aspects you may not usually think of, but are ever-present features of every mobile app.
- A dedicated app is a great idea if your business wants to support users throughout the day. Let’s take a queue management platform like Waitwhile for example. The app lets businesses sign up customers into their waitlists. So while the services offered by vendors are for a limited time only, the platform allows customers to book their spot in advance, know where they are on the online queue, and never actually waste time standing in line.
- Top of mind awareness is something a dedicated mobile app can cultivate in customers. This is a huge advantage for brands, as they get considerable leeway to catch up with their competition before losing customers to better products. Cwkix used this approach in their app experience and brought together small businesses, stores, and local brands into a simple UI. Customers could then easily find products locally rather than checking generic platforms like Amazon or Target.
- Personalised interaction is perhaps the greatest advantage of mobile apps over conventional web applications.Understanding your unique interests, coupled with customised notifications, and ultimately shortening the distance between you and the brand is literally the definition of a great app. Vibeonix even takes it to the next level, coupling AI with voice recognition software to deduct the user's emotional well-being. The app gives extremely user-specific data using voice notes, advising further steps to regain calmness for the user.
How Do Businesses Develop the Right App
Understanding your Target Market
Even Facebook had to start somewhere.
Their journey to become the all-encompassing face of social media began as a connecting tool for college students.
The need to emphasise the right audience is critical, as they ultimately decide if your app generates revenue or not. Just like how Facebook had college students as their pinpointed customer base in their early days, you'll have to find a niche audience that might actually benefit from your app.
Here are just a few tips to get you started on your customer finding journey:
- Forums, Surveys, and Stats if you have them. Every piece of customer interaction can be used as feedback to double down on a focused user-base who would be glad to test out your product.
- The more you know about your target customer the better. More than just their buying cycle, try looking more into the demographic that could benefit the most from your app.
- Find communities that cater to your particular audience and directly reach out to them to understand their pain points. These platforms could also become a test-bed for your mobile app during test runs.
Validating your App Idea
By now you already know there's no need to develop the app in its entirety to know whether it will stick with your customers or not.
- The least functional solution that solves a customer's unique challenge - Minimum Viable Product - is all you need to focus on at this stage.
- Release your MVP to the largest crowd you can find and take in continuous feedback on their app experience. This way you'll be able to correct your mistakes early on and avoid unintended challenges down the line.
- Find out the extent to which your app helps solve your customer's needs. If it's only marginally acceptable as a solution, you need to come up with more features and functionalities to delight with just the essentials.
As you go on to build your app in full swing, it's important to keep this validation process in mind to make sure your app is never getting complex for no reason.
Confirming the Mode of Revenue Generation
Figuring out your pricing model is also important to understand how well your product or service could be kept profitable for long-term success.
The pricing model can convey a lot about your customers and the quality of your product in general. The current competitive pricing in your domain, the level of functionalities customers can expect, the level of market penetration your app has overall, and even product security can be traced back to the amount and the type of payment your app has.
Here are the usual payment methods that we are all too familiar with:
- Monthly or yearly subscriptions
- One time payments
- Affiliate marketing
There is no fixed rule on how you should charge your app's services from customers. Startups often pivot their pricing method as their products get better at retaining customers. You could always look at your competition to get inspired on pricing.
Maintaining Feedback Loops
Once you launch your product and attract a small group of early adopters, it's time to focus even more on customer feedback and regular updates on your initial offering.
There are two kinds of feedback that will enable you to figure out what your app might be lacking at the moment. Broadly classified into direct and indirect feedback, they are categorised as such based on the method of approach in getting your faults pointed out.
- Direct feedback involves the user's active participation in getting feedback such as reviews, star ratings, questionnaires, and so on. A quick pop-up box that sprouts from time to time asking for the customer's app experience is a perfect example of direct feedback.
- Indirect feedback involves the analysis of user behaviour, which tells you how they interact with the app's UI, the time they spend on each page, bounce rates, click frequency, and more.
Depending on your product, you must devise a combination of direct and indirect feedback loops that fits your product development cycle.
In every sense, a mobile app is a personalised version of your solution which perfectly fits a unique customer's needs. Therefore, the impact you create through direct feedback and quick deployment of newer versions increase the trust they have in your product.Think you're ready to do more? Read our detailed step-by-step guide to building your very first mobile app.
Popular Mobile Development Platforms We Use
Intro on frameworks and their benefits
You may not notice this at all, but the apps we use on our phones are mostly built on totally different frameworks. The final output may look indistinguishable, but the benefits that each framework provides could make or break an app in the market.
Mobile developers have their preferences when it comes to app frameworks. The flexibility or ease with which these frameworks allow them to create remarkable UI and functionalities make them industry favourites.
Here is an overview of the top mobile app development frameworks you could find today. Each has its own merits and challenges, so proper research on each is advised before fixing on mobile app frameworks.
We constantly learn and test out new frameworks in our app-building process. Here's a brief discussion on our current favourite mobile app development frameworks.
How is React so beloved by developers?
Developed by Facebook and initially released in 2016, React Native, the mobile app development framework of React.js enables you to create lightning-speed apps with stunning visuals and UI.
If you love building apps to test out ideas, here's the initial setup page of React Native to start coding.
How is it transforming the mobile app development market?
React Native is currently one of the most updated frameworks you could reliably use to build mobile applications.
In addition to being robust, there is a long list of reasons why software developers and companies alike love to work with React Native.
- Being a native app, it allows for quicker load times and a beautifully functional and responsive UI.
- It has a single code base for Windows apps, iOS, and Android, saving time and cost in developing and maintaining apps for several app markets.
- Mobile apps need to be versatile in providing all kinds of important data to users. React Native allows third-party plugins that could help developers add payment methods, maps, and more.
If you are considering building a mobile app in the near future, here are another 12 compelling reasons why you should consider React Native for your mobile app development.
How have our clients profited from our React projects
Statista reports that almost 42% of mobile apps made between 2019 and 2021 were built using React Native. What it offers are more than just elegant visual features and generally quick app development cycles. Businesses often find tangible financial benefits in using React to build mobile apps.
- Being a cross-platform development-capable framework, businesses can quickly address a larger customer base right at the app's launch. Having a single code-base reduces their worry of encountering bugs or app crashes while running on multiple platforms.
- React Native has a Platform module feature that helps during development cycles. Basically, it detects the platform on which your app is running and allows developers to render the appearance values of your app. This allows you to control the flow of your app on different platforms without much difficulty.
Our clients find immense value in using React Native as their staple framework for mobile app development. In addition to all the benefits we mentioned above, they love the stability and the incredible app experience it offers.
With ever-increasing competition and the app boom following the pandemic, it's not a question of should you release faster and feature-rich apps for your customers, but how quickly can you release them.
Love to build mobile apps? Here's a detailed blog on how to make an app using React. If you think your app will benefit from a team of industry-leading application developers and designers to visualise your dream app, let us know and we'll help you out.
Flutter has gained a huge fan following over the very short span of three years as a staple cross-platform app-building software. Initially released by Google in 2017, Flutter can help you build intuitive native apps at record time and from a single codebase.
In 2021, around 42% of apps worldwide run on Flutter, quickly followed by React Native with almost the same percentage of users.
Why is Flutter so good?
Businesses of all sizes are quick to adopt Flutter as their go-to framework, poised to be the future of cross-platform development. A highly developer-friendly app framework, Flutter is way ahead of some of the most prolific competitors out there.
How good is flutter for developers?
In any app development cycle involving cross-platform viability, a huge chunk of time is spent on editing source code. On paper, every cross-platform framework is supposed to render this time negligible, but they all have some impediments that still require stringent code reviews.
With Flutter, app-building becomes more like designing on a live canvas that's deployment-ready for every platform. Here are some of the key features that make Flutter a beloved framework for developers.
Same UI and Business logic in all platforms
Cross-platform frameworks usually allow codebase sharing among target platforms. While this makes things easier, there is a catch - individual platforms have specific widget calls that change with platforms.
Editing code to suit your required platform is a time-consuming process and could create unseen errors as well. Flutter eliminates this by providing the same business logic and UI for all platforms making it easy for developers to build their apps that work seamlessly for Android, iOS, and other platforms.
On most frameworks, editing out a piece of code and seeing changes in the final product takes the whole application to run from the start.
With 'Hot Reload', Flutter eliminates load times by allowing you to visualise quick changes without affecting the application state.
Skia rendering engine
Much of Flutter's UI success comes from the powerful Skia rendering engine. With no need to retrofit your UI to suit different platforms, development times get shortened without losing anything on app aesthetics.
How do Businesses benefit from Flutter?
It's fair to assume that any cross-platform mobile app framework could solve your app-building dilemma, but there are a few core features that separate Flutter from the rest of the market. Here are just some of them:
- Since there is no need to write any platform-specific code on Flutter, you basically shrink the total development time, cost of development, and ultimately the time to market speed.
- Developing apps on Flutter feels like drawing on a blank canvas, with full control over everything you see on the screen. If you are into UI, operations like clipping, element transitions, and manipulating colours, shadows, and shapes are effortless with Flutter.
- Flutter is transcending mobile app barriers, and soon users can build stable web apps and desktop embeddings making app development universal for solution building.
App markets are changing by the day, and so are the needs of customers. While you could do all the research to anticipate user trends, it's better to be flexible in your app-building process than to be perpetually building to changing usage reports.
With Agile practices, we found that the best possible work is attained if we can account for every person contributing to the system. Mobile application building comes with a lot of moving parts, so we suggest you have a proper project management tool to plan ahead and be aware of where your journey is headed.
Here's a glimpse of how we build apps with a minimum time-to-market strategy.
Setting up goals and breaking them up into time-bound milestones are the first steps for any worthwhile project. Mobile development is no different, with way more processes that involve multiple teams to work together.
Understanding what your customers might want and developing them in their order of priority could help you plan the features, UI, and other developmental challenges ahead of schedule.
After defining the goals or milestones for your project, find out what teams should work on simultaneously and what they could come up with individually to meet project deadlines.
The team you are working with and the tools they use to build software requires a crucial amount of spending. You don't need to be reminded of the shortcomings of a highly volatile bank account.
Calculate and finalise the costs you are willing to pay each resource and tool to come up with a project cost that's just right for your successful app launch. It becomes easier at this point to cut unwanted spending and create streamlined accounting overall.
Always be aware of the pace at which your app is being built. Knowing your team's pace could help you determine whether the tentative dates for milestones could be achieved realistically.
Review work based on the actual work done and not on the hours spent on labour. Figuring out how to keep your teams at their productive best without exhausting them is one of the key skills a good startup founder develops over time.
With the right tools and work methodology, you can create a healthy work routine that eliminates clashes between milestones tasks that require multiple teams to work on.
Equally important to tracking progress is to have a robust platform for teams to report their latest developments at work. Monthly analysis, quarterly reports, and every other team meeting are intended to measure the health of your business.
With proper scheduling and purposeful meetings, you can easily create a sense of responsibility among team members to complete agreed tasks comfortably within deadlines. Project management tools come in handy in this area to check the overall progress of your project.
Make sure you don’t fall into the common mistakes in entrepreneurship that often wastes a ton of time and cash on big business projects. Good reporting is a great way to abate urgent fires and avoid mistakes to be repeated in the long run.
Fail-proof products are always the result of extensive reviews, edits, and even pivoted development processes.
Product development cycles are rarely linear - product ideas, features, and other functionalities take numerous revisions to fit into the final offering.
Testing in this aspect forms one of the major hurdles in app development cycles. Ensure that you have a team of experienced developers who could spot bugs and work around a solution without losing deadlines.
While planning your project budget, try to invest in the right project management tools to make your testing team's lives easier. Rather than creating a pile of outputs to test, you can easily create a pipeline of items that are ready for launch and those that need another round of edits.
Deployment and Maintenance
Launching your application for others to use is the moment of truth for even established businesses. With preliminary user data reports, you could easily understand if your app is fairly utilitarian or loved by people.
While deploying your app, make sure everything is synced with the back-end perfectly. Any lag or disparities in navigating through your app straight up affect your brand identity.
Apps do need timely updates and modifications based on how people use them. While adjusting your UI to suit your customers, ensure that every change is in accordance with the design standards you set at the beginning of the project.
Be constantly aware of the load times of pages in your app. Customers usually appreciate a faster app more than beautiful ones. Timely revisions should be planned in your app-building cycle to reaffirm your app's agility at all times.
Even after modifying your app to create the best possible experience for your customers, know that we live in an ever-changing tech market full of cutting-edge developments. For this reason, you must always think of your app as an iterative product that will keep improving with newer versions and new technology adoption.
When to Outsource Work
Often deciding on a final deadline for a project requires more man-hours and talent than you may currently have in-house. This is where outsourcing becomes a viable option for product development journeys.
More than being practical, outsourcing is a budget-friendly option as well. With clear project budgets and deliverables, your core team could incorporate the outsourced work into their projects without losing time on their work.
When you outsource work, you also gain invaluable insights and suggestions from an external talent pool in the process. Outsourcing also increases the total hours worked in a day, generating more productive work within the same time span.
Here's an interesting read on how your business could benefit from outsourcing mobile development.
Ready to Launch?
Mobile app development is a major step for any business as it reveals a lot about what your customers want and whether it will work in real life. Unlike project reports and stats, you’ll get a real taste of what your customers are after and how to meet their needs with your polished offering.
If you are ready to build your very own app experience for your business, it’s always good to ask for help from experts who can shorten your time to market. At NeoITO, we support businesses of all shapes and sizes to springboard their development and help them gain precious ROI in record time.
We love to plan with business owners on how to get their mobile application customer worthy under record time. Book a time with us to start your app building journey today!