Mobile app development is a growing and exciting field. However, many companies make crucial mistakes that make the process far less beneficial to their business. At its worst, mobile app development can set a business back in terms of sunk costs and wasted time.
Many established firms develop an app simply because it’s a popular thing to do. Rather than treating it like an informed business decision, they dive into development efforts under the assumption that it can do no wrong. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Getting stuck in development hell (a term used in the industry that refers to slow or halted progress when developing software) is a costly and stressful mistake. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help ensure a smooth and effective app development process. Here are five things to keep in mind.
- Using Outdated Tech Dependencies
When developing an app many firms make the mistake of using outdated technology. Software development is a field that is always shifting and changing. That’s why it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest tools and technologies to use.
Most people would be surprised how many apps have had to be rebuilt from scratch because it was built on a tech dependency that is now out of use. Moreover, even when using a tool that is current, many make the mistake of not using the most current version of the tool. This can be a dealbreaker.
In fact, the Android and Apple App stores often won’t even accept applications that are built on old dependencies of old versions of software tools. For example, if you or your developers are using a platform like Expo for app development, it’s vital to be certain that it is a current version of the product.
Expo is an open-source platform for building cross-compatible, native applications, and is quite a useful tool. However, using an outdated version of it can translate to a massive waste of time and money.
There are many similar dependencies that help to save time and develop efficiently. When using any such dependency, make sure you’re not using a sunset (or outdated) version.
It can be difficult to ensure the proper technologies are being used if you’re a non-technical manager. For tips on managing developers as a non-technical manager, check out this article from Forbes.
- Not Conducting Market Research Early On
Another big mistake many firms make is building an app that simply doesn’t have a good product-market fit. Many such firms spend large budgets building complex apps before conducting market research only to realize that no one finds it useful.
According to Digital Authority, just 0.01% of apps were considered a financial success in 2008.
That’s why businesses should take a data-driven approach when deciding whether to build an app and what features to integrate into any app the build.
Market research should include online surveys, distributed to a significant number of people, in-person focus groups, and an analysis of the competitive landscape of the app’s niche. While many firms regard this as a large upfront cost, it is a very wise investment. Proper research before beginning development will save exponentially more money later on.
As Fast Company explains, conducting market research, and even ensuring ways to distribute and market your app before beginning development will save money long-term.
- Not Investing Time and Resources in Basic UI/UX Design
User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design are important to consider early on when developing a mobile application. In order to establish the viability of features being built into the app, it’s important to draw up wireframes of each screen of the app, and what actions users will be able to perform on each screen. This will also allow you to project a more accurate cost of how much money the app will take to build.
Some firms make the mistake of not exploring the projected costs of app development. Others make the mistake of expecting exact quotes without including design specs and required features of the app. No developer will be able to give an accurate quote without knowing what functions the applications will perform and required features to be integrated.
In this way, many firms waste money beginning their development efforts in a very loose and open-ended way, without determining beforehand which specific features will be included. Firms with a tight budget can conduct market research and draw up wireframes on their own. However, for most companies, it makes sense to retain a design and development agency to create wireframes.
Bear in mind that you must factor in the cost of user interface and user experience design into your budgets when hiring a designer or agency. An agency that also works on app software development is a good option to consider. Designers that are completely non-technical can often include unnecessary features that are then difficult to implement for a development team.
- Not Calculating the Projected Cost Per Conversion
Too many firms dive headfirst into app development efforts without calculating how much onboarding new users to the app will cost. You might think that getting new users of an app will be quick and easy.
This is rarely the case. Not projecting an anticipated cost per conversion (CPC) is a classic example of bad planning when developing an app.
The cost per conversion is the amount of money that must be spent in order to have the user taking a specific action. One example metric might be the cost per download. This metric refers to the amount of money spent in order to get one user to download the app.
Without determining an expected cost per conversion, it is impossible to determine how much money will be necessary to onboard users. Many firms end up in a difficult position when they develop an app and they aren’t able to get anyone to use it. Without users, it’s impossible to monetize the app, in which case the app will just become a useless expense.
- Not Investing in Quality Developers
Many firms have big dreams for an app but are hesitant to invest the money it takes to retain a strong development team. Experienced developers and agencies have resources and code bases at their disposal that a freelance developer often doesn’t.
Crowdsourced platforms like Upwork and Freelancer can be great for smaller projects. However, many companies make the mistake of hiring different freelancers at various different times in the development process to complete different features.
This is among the worst mistakes you can make. Teams of developers that have experience working together understand the same techniques, programming languages, and dependencies. There are many ways to build an application, and hiring different developers with different approaches and then forcing them to work together is a good way to waste a lot of money.
Don’t make the opposite mistake of splurging on a development agency that has great branding but doesn’t bring anything valuable or unique to the table. It can be difficult to recruit technical talent if you yourself are non-technical. Consider bringing on a technical team member or CTO that can vet different agencies or tech talent to make sure you’re getting value for your money.
Not sure where to start with your mobile app efforts? Check out this list of companies. It should give you an idea of reputable marketing and development agencies.
In conclusion, developing a mobile app is a big decision. Limiting mistakes will limit unnecessary costs and wasted time. Do your research upfront a build a team that will meet your goals.