Saying the app market is competitive is a bit like stating that the Arctic is cold. The two top app stores (Google Play and Apple’s App Store) boast a combined 2.5 million apps, not including the some-odd million more on the less popular stores (Windows Phone Store, Amazon App Store, BlackBerry World, etc.), and more apps hit the market every day.
Unfortunately, 10 percent of the apps account for 90 percent of all downloads. What does it take to be competitive in this market? Along with using all the great tips for developing good apps (attractive interfaces, intuitive navigation, useful features, etc.), developers need to know what they’re doing wrong that causes apps to miss the mark. Here are the 6 things your developers need to avoid to be successful.
1. User Experiences Vary Across Devices and Platforms
If your users love your desktop app, make sure they’ll also dig your tablet and smartphone versions.
Does your app work as well on Android devices as on the iPhone? Do users have the same quality experience on your mobile app as when using your desktop website? One thing that can kill an app’s worth to users is the inability to get a good experience across devices and platforms. For example, Tony has an iPad, and he loves your app. He tells Chrissie, and she takes a look at the user reviews for the G S4. Those users report the interface is crummy. You’ve just lost a user before you even scored a download.
2. Trying to Pack Too Many Features into the App
One balloon in the absolute perfect size, shape, color, and message is better than a handful of balloons that pop before the party. Apps are the same way — sometimes less is more.
What do the most successful businesses do? Usually, they do one thing extraordinarily well, a few other things relatively well, and keep their hands out of everything else. You can go to KFC for great chicken and a few good side dishes, but they leave the pizza making to Domino’s. Instead of trying to razzle dazzle your app with more toppings than an everything-plus-anchovies pie, give your users a few features that work exceptionally well and are incredibly useful. Not only does this make for a more streamlined, efficient app that gets to market faster, it also reduces the possibility of bugs and compatibility issues. Less can be much more. You can always add features later after the app is gaining popularity and running stably.
3. Using Inconsistent Development Practices
There are tons of tools and design theories, each of which provides particular strengths, along with inherent weaknesses. Make sure your design team members are all on the same page. Consistent development practices translate into more reliable code, easier updates for the app, and thorough and adequate testing. Together, these factors result in bringing a much better product to market.
4. Choosing the App Developers with the Wrong Talents
Not all app development is created equally. There are incredibly talented game app developers that couldn’t code a business app for anything. Similarly, there are developers uniquely qualified to design and develop financial apps, shopping apps, travel apps, and fitness apps. Choosing the wrong development talent is like bringing a fur coat on a Caribbean cruise.
5. Failing to Store Certain Information Within the Device
A big consideration during development is what data needs to be stored internally on the device versus what information should be accessed from a database or cloud server. There are several factors that go into this decision, including security concerns, connectivity issues, and practical coding issues. However, when the right decisions are made, it results in apps that run faster, are more secure on public Wi-Fi, and allow access to data even when the user doesn’t have Internet access. If the data changes frequently or is regulated for compliance, database storage is generally preferable. Data that remains unchanged or doesn’t require a high level of security can easily be stored natively, making data access quicker and easier.
6. Inadequate Testing and Tweaking
Time to market is important. Developers want to get the app out there and start making money, and release delays mean delays in cashing in for your efforts. But it’s far better for the development process to run into overtime than to release an inferior product. Take the time to test, and test thoroughly. Test across devices and platforms. Test for different screen sizes (will a tablet user get the same quality experience as a smartphone user?) and test all of the tiniest, most inconsequential features. Then tweak. Tweak the app until it sings like the church choir on Easter Sunday.
By overcoming these obstacles to great app development, you too can capitalize on the massive popularity of well-designed, useful mobile apps, while avoiding the fate of some 90 percent of development efforts that fail.
Simon has worked in the software industry for over 20 years; intent on always producing work of the highest standard and creating software products that genuinely makes things better for people. Simon has previously held positions ranging from Developer, Technical Consultant, Head of Development through to CTO and more recently founder and CEO of several high profile technology companies.