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How to Plan and Develop a Profitable Mobile App in 2020

19 min read

Characteristics of a Great Mobile Application

Develop a Mobile App that Solves a Problem:

1. Market Research for a Mobile App Development
2. How to Develop the Mobile App that Adds Value
3. Plan your Strategy for Mobile Application Development

  • Find & Hire a Right Vendor to Develop a Mobile App
  • Create a Mobile App Prototype and UX/UI Design
  • Mobile App Development: Choose the right tech Stack Options
  • Launch Your App in the App Store
  • Start with App Promotion in Advance
  • Mobile App Metrics & Ongoing Project Support
  • Final Ideas to Develop a Mobile App

“Users are time-poor. They want speed and convenience, but they have limited storage on their smartphones. Your app must deliver real customer value at every step to encourage loyalty”.
Gerry Hooper, Chief Executive, Zapper UK

Want to know how to develop a mobile that is worth your investment? This guide has been prepared for those ambitious minds who want to develop a mobile app and make a digital business flourish in 2020.

To mention, statistically, 25% of new apps were used only once and then abandoned in 2019. This is sad news to hear. On the contrary, the market is huge and expected to reach 935B by 2023.

Luckily, with this article at hands, you can take your piece of a pie and be able to:

  • increases chances of your app success
  • avoid the major pitfalls during the mobile app development
  • create a mobile app with a growing user base and high user retention

Once read, you will find all ins-and-outs of the process to develop a mobile app that involves the following steps:

Step 1: Right market research and defining your target audience
Step 2: App concept finalization identification of USPs
Step 3: Planning and determination of a solid business strategy
Step 4: Selection of the right software development vendor
Step 5: Designing the flawless user experience and appealing user interface
Step 7: Application of a proper tech stack and tools in app development
Step 8: Launching the app to the app store
Step 9: Setting a proper marketing strategy and promotional campaign
Step 10: Collection of the necessary KPIs to plan the ongoing app development and support

Characteristics of the great mobile application

Characteristics of a Great Mobile Application

For starters, let’s clarify what actually makes a good app. What are those aspects and metrics you should pay attention to the most? Definitely, a good app is the one that solves some pain points as well as provides flawless user experience and top performance.

Thus, take a quick glance at the next points that most of the top-performing digital products have in common. All of them:

  • provide a specific solution
  • does one thing but really, really well
  • deliver real value for its target user
  • are simple in their functioning
  • maintain high performance and security
  • have regular updates and bug-fixing
  • offer a personalized experience
  • some even provide offline functionality
  • many are offered for free, at least on the early stages

Thus, to create a great digital business, you need to create a top and qualitative product at its core. Secondly, to increase your chances of a successful app launch it is necessary to incorporate well-prepared app development and marketing strategies.

Keep these aspects in mind, since all the next sections of the guide elaborate on each step you need to complete to develop an app that would win the hearts of users.

Develop a Mobile App that Solves a Problem

 

Many beginning entrepreneurs, including those who are creating mobile apps, underestimate the necessity of the research. They truly believe in their idea. However, without any feedback from the market, selection of the niche, and concrete app idea, this is similar to the bullet shot in the void.

The next three steps can be united into well-thought-out research that is necessary to complete to develop a mobile app that will bring you profit.

1. Market Research for a Mobile App Development

 

Exclusion of market demand is the number one reason why startups fail, which makes up 42% of cases. Thus, the initial objective is to understand the need and fulfill it with your offering as well as choose the right market and target audience.

Intro Tip: We are sure that you already have some experience and distinct knowledge in some sphere. This could be your superpower to define the mobile app idea that finds great appliance within the industry. Alternatively, you can find a partner, who has the necessary expertise and knows the potential problems people face in a particular specific area.

As well, market research can be accomplished in one or another way:

1st – if you have some app idea – test your hypothesis for its market potential.

How to identify the market by SWOT analysys

In this case, you can use SWOT analysis [Strength-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats] to identify the market strategy. Basically, the startupper can evaluate current advantages to reach the wanted objective while minimizing risks, overcoming challenges on the market. The PEST scheme complements this research by investigating the external environment (political, economic, social, legal factors) and better assessing the risks each industry/ market possesses.

As well, Porter’s 5 Forces model may be applied to understand the rivalry level in the sector you plan to launch your project in.

This way, you can select your niche and define your target customer portrait. For example, you can focus on a niche audience like scuba divers, professional photographers or pregnant women where the number of potential clients is lower. This way, you do not face high competition in contrast to a more general app concept.

2nd – if you don’t have any ideas – conduct market research to identify a problem that currently exists, and then evaluate your direct and indirect competitors.

This way, you will understand the current state of the market – its propositions, and how do people cope with their problems, and finally understand what could be your best offering.

2. How to Develop a Mobile App that Adds Value

 

For starters, concentrate on bringing the value, not money. Most of the app projects that have reached tremendous success were developed to solve an issue, which got traction from the audience, and only then the app received a million earnings.

Following is the list of advice that helps you to finalize your app concept:

  • Start with the basics – ask people around what apps they like and don’t like, how do they use their connected devices (smartphones, home assistants, tablets,etc.).
  • Try to use your mobile device and note your experience – you may be surprised about how many things still need to be adapted to perform personal or professional tasks easier.
  • Search for gaps and blank spaces – check out forums, blogs of interest, social media to study what do people talk about and what pains they experience.
  • Check out software development meetups and hackathons to understand the trends of the industry.
  • Collect information about what app ideas get funded the most.
  • Browse app stores – you can study existing projects; app cloning is a wrong and the easiest strategy, yet it is possible to improve the underperforming apps and renovate with uniting their functionality.
  • Enhance the app experience – learn the most-frequently-used functionality and think about how it can be improved or search for the ways users can utilize their mobile device in a new way (e.g. a scanner, compass, flashlight, etc).
  • Learn outside of app stores – go to the market and conduct some polls and questionnaires among a selected group of people.
  • Dream bigger and imagine wider – great app concepts are innovative and are looking forward to the future. You may start simple, yet you can predict and set the grounds for the innovation for the upcoming years (e.g. AR & VR, Machine Learning, AI).
  • Draw and write down all your ideas (even the most stupid ones) – keep these records and put them on paper right a away so you won’t forget them later.

To sum things up, by combining your knowledge, analysis from online research, and results from the market analysis, you come up with a unique app idea that stands out. ‍

3. Plan your Strategy for Mobile App Development

Once you have defined the major problem your app will solve, the next thing to do is to summarize your digital business strategy.

Plan your app earnings

Also, it is necessary to define your monetization strategy. In the beginning, it is wise to offer your product for free, at least partly to gain the initial base of users. Then, you can decide how to earn revenue by selecting one or a few options, namely:

  • Ads – showing advertisement
  • Paid download – e.g. $0.99 to install the app
  • In-app purchase – freemium model with an opportunity to advance app functionality, sell virtual or physical items, bonuses, ad blocking
  • Subscription – weekly, monthly or annual fee
  • Merchandise & eCommerce – sale of goods via an app
  • Affiliate & sponsorship – referral marketing option to assist other business to reach to the client

The Business Model Canvas tool is the best to use for this step and summarize the points mentioned earlier. The model has 9 areas you need to fill out with the strategic plans, namely:

  • Key partners – people and stakeholders who assist in your app startup
  • Key activities – processes to run your digital business on a daily basis
  • Key resources – knowledge, means, people, money, etc. to develop a mobile app and support business activities
  • Value proposition – unique selling points of an app, key solution it provides
  • Customer relations – use cases and ways of first user contact with an app and create loyalty
  • Customer segments – portrait(s) of a buyer persona
  • Channels – ways to deliver your mobile app solution to the end-user
  • Cost structure – key cost components based on key activities and resources
  • Revenue streams – monetization strategy

Once you dwell on each of these points, you are ready to go with a real mobile app development processes.

How to find a right vendor for mobile app development

Find & Hire a Right Vendor to Develop a Mobile App

 

The selection of the software development agency is another important decision to make. It is possible to search for a local provider, outsource your mobile app development activities, or hire a freelancer.

Here are a few aspects to bring up for each variant:

  • local firms – provide good-quality development service, but the hourly rates on the local market are significantly higher (e.g. in the USA)
  • offshore agency – have lower rates while sustaining good service quality (e.g. region of Asia or Eastern Europe)
  • developers on freelance – have affordable price level on a freelance platform like UpWork or Freelancer.com. However, it is hard to define a good programmer and illuminate the risks of undelivered quality, information leaks, delays, and so on.

Generally speaking, IT outsourcing is the most cost-efficient way to develop a mobile app since it has minimum risks of delivering a bad-quality app and it helps you save up to 50% of your budget. It is only necessary to find a reliable and capable vendor.

So, what you need to consider when choosing a software company and creating a mobile app? Here is a list of matters that are necessary to evaluate the mobile app development vendor:

Create a prototype and project the UI/UX of the mobile application

Creating a Mobile App Prototype & UX/UI Design

 

The first real phase to develop a mobile app is a UX/UI design. It should be simple, intuitive, and appealing to your target audience. The app design creation may also consist of the following sub-stages:

  • app prototype – represents a high-level form of the product, can have a few  variants to conduct beta testings on the end-user and define the best one
  • app wireframes – defines the user experience that forms the app’s skeleton, maps out its functionality and includes a specific number of screens, position of elements, buttons, and defines the navigation through the app
  • app interface – represents the chosen stylistics, color patterns, visual elements of an app
  • branding – dedicates to the app logo creation and supplementary material like a brand book

Investing in app design is a worthy action since it set the basis for the further mobile app development stage. It is important to follow the platform guidelines (e.g. iOS, Android), concentrate on intuitive gestures, and make an emphasis on app appearance. To raise the chances of creating a mobile app with great design, it is necessary:

  • Use professional tools like Figma, Sketch, InDesign, Fluid UI, Balsamiq Mockups, Gliffy, Mockflow
  • Define all the possible use cases of in-app flow and processes behind them
    Create a few screen flows and figure out which works the best
  • Apply 2-tap and 5-point rules, which means once you open the app it should have 2 taps to get the required result and up to 5 different elements in its design (fonts, sizes, colors)
  • Revise the screens number and their order

The UX/UI design process may take a considerable amount of time, but this helps figure out the best app layout and navigation that showcases the solution provided by the app from the first use. The wise approach is to test the app’s usability and interface among the defined target audience. For instance, if the app is planned to be used among the older generation in clinics, its design (clickable prototype) should be examined for its clearness, user-friendliness, appearance by these users precisely. 

Besides, a well-defined and created app design saves thousands of dollars during the development phase later on. The cost of a mistake is far less during this mobile app development phase.

How to organize the UI/UX design of the mobile application

Once the app UX/UI design is approved, the actual app coding phase starts. There are multiple ways to develop a mobile app including native or cross-platform approach.

Here we list the pros and cons of each of the named options:

  • Native app development

If utilizing this approach, an app is fully compliant with an operating system it is developed for (iOS or Android). This way apps are created for each OS separately and use corresponding programming languages (Objective-C or Swift for iOS, Java or Kotlin for Android). 

Apps created natively are characterized by complete unity with a device, the ability to use the device’s tools like camera, contacts, GPS, memory, etc. Also, custom apps usually work faster, secure, easier to scale, and it is possible to add complex and unique features.

  • Hybrid app development

If you decide to develop a hybrid app, it means that it has a cross-platform functioning and works across different operating systems. Basically, it is a website at its core with an app shield coverage on top. Many technologies are used to develop a hybrid app such as JavaScript, React, PhoneGap, Ionic, Flutter, Xamarin, etc.

Logically, this app type is quicker to develop, also meaning it cost less. On the contrary, these apps may concede in appearance, performance, and it is harder to implement complex functionality and support the project easily.

To sum things up, it highly depends on the app concept and planned functionality what approach to use. In general, it is recommended to develop a mobile app natively since it grants more benefits. However, in some cases, hybrid app development could be a great way to proceed with, especially when testing your app idea.

Besides, before the mobile app development stage begins, together with the chosen development vendor you should evaluate 3rd party services and analytics for integration (e.g. Google Analytics, Flurry, Mixpanel, etc.) These tools are used for collecting app performance metrics and data for app improvement and ongoing development. These aspects can also influence the way how to develop a mobile app.

Launch Your App in the App Store
Image title: Homepages of updated App Store

 

Into point: It is a good strategy to develop a mobile app prototype first and test it among the real-user prior to launching it to the app store. This way, you avoid making bigger mistakes, collect user feedback, and make necessary adjustments.

The app launch is a big step into the real world and you need to make sure that every single detail is in accordance with your plan. Here is a checklist of the things you should pay your attention:

  • Evaluate whether an app has well-tested and is bug-free
  • Double-check the app security for good server protection and data storage
  • Check app compliance with the Apple Store and/or Google Play guidelines
  • Control if your app follows privacy policies, terms of use, and other market regulations (e.g. GDPR in case of the European market)

The mobile app deployment process needs a solid plan, schedule, and control during the app release to the live environment. The protection and integrity of the core system component is a cornerstone of the phase that your software development vendor needs to cover.

Start with App Promotion in Advance

 

The second you launch your app to the store, the moment your marketing efforts take the leading role. Along with creating a mobile app during a period of 3-6 months, it is necessary to plan and schedule its promotion. If you are not well-prepared, your app gets lost among hundreds of applications within the app store.

The process may include, but is not limited to:

  • ASO (app store optimization) to ensure that target user finds your application based on propers positioning, keyword targeting, app description
  • Publications of the app in alternative app stores (e.g. SlideMe, AppsLib, AppBrain, etc.)
  • Building an email list of interested users via a subscription button on your landing page, created earlier
    Paid app advertising
  • Work on different distribution channels on social networks and SMM strategy
  • Work with the press to spread the word about the value your app provides
  • Contacts with industry influencers and bloggers so that they share their positive feedback on the application with their audience
  • App listing on PreApps, a community that consists of early adopters of new applications
  • SEO strategies, if you decide to have a website and have a corporate blog
  • App listing on the mobile app reviews platforms
  • Consultations with Advertising and PR agencies

Mobile App Metrics & Ongoing Project Support

You have launched your app and market your app successfully. What’s next? It is vital to progress and advance with your mobile application. That’s why, it was so necessary to integrate analytics during mobile app development. Making updates, innovating with features, and personalizing the app experience will keep the user retention and increase app loyalty.

The key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track

  • Mobile downloads & installations – a general indicator of the app’s popularity
  • Retention rate – one of the key metrics that shows the number of users that return to the app after the first use
  • Daily active users – showcase the number of app users daily; the same parameter can be checked on a monthly basis
  • Churn rate – opposite metric to retention that tracks how many users abandoned the app once used
  • Average revenue per user – measure the app earnings from each user
  • User lifetime value (LTV) – tracks the revenue per user including the future earnings
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA) – shows what is the cost to get one new app user

Keeping track of the market, its trends, and analyzing your product’s performance helps to make the right decisions to develop a mobile app further. Extending functionality, improving app design, enhancing quality, reducing bugs and errors – are the ongoing activities for the mobile app development and its support.

Final Ideas to Develop a Mobile App

All in all, a successful app provides a single service, yet it is unique, well-designed, and has great performance.

To wrap things up here is a list of key ideas covered:

  • Identify your strengths and expertise to base your app idea
  • Evaluate the market and TA (models like SWOT, Porter’s 5 Forces, PEST can help)
  • Set your digital business direction and strategy clearly (utilize Business Model Canvas)
  • Hire a software development team with right capabilities and expertise (consider IT outsourcing to Eastern Europe or Asia due to the best price-quality ratio)
  • Invest in creating proper UX/UI design and test it among TA
  • Implement the application with the most suitable tech stack and tools
  • Start marketing campaigns during the early stages (e.g. ASO, paid-ads, SEO, SMM strategies, etc.)
  • Evaluate your app performance and update the app regularly

Thus, to create a mobile app that wins the hearts of the users, it is necessary to understand the issues they encounter each day and seamlessly solve them. Aside, the continuous app improvement and innovation will make users stay loyal to your digital product.

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