Mobile App Development

5 key considerations when planning for mobile

1st October 2015

A long time ago, we decided to launch our ‘app readiness test’. Since we launched the test, it’s been completed by thousands of businesses looking to develop apps. Completing the test enables you to crystallise your thinking around mobile and helps you to identify key elements that constitute good planning. Mobile is complex but developing an app could be the smartest thing your business ever does. If you’re in the process of planning an app development project, the app readiness test is an invaluable tool and will help you identify commercial and technical risks associated with your project. We know you’re busy so it’s designed to take a couple of minutes, If you haven’t already, you can go through the test process here. Today we’re exploring the key things to think about when planning for mobile.

Planning your app development project

The most important element from the outset (when developing for mobile) is to identify your key measures of success. You need to think about your mobile ROI (check this out if you’re still not convinced about the astonishing ROI of mobile) and how to convince key stakeholders in your company that your mobile initiative is technically and commercially viable. In some cases, especially when trying to build brand awareness, there are several risk factors you need to consider – namely marketing. It’s astonishing how many businesses seeking to develop an app underestimate the complexities and costs associated with success in mobile.

We’ve been crunching the data from the responses to our app readiness test. Here’s what we discovered:


Developing new app ideas

Developing a new app from scratch and trying to build brand awareness is high risk. It takes considerable expertise and financial backing. It’s not just developing the app, you need to think really carefully about Mobile Marketing Services and promote your app once it’s been launched. Nearly half of all the businesses that used our free app readiness test were seeking to develop a new app. This can be a smart move, but it’s also high risk and it’s essential that app entrepreneurs understand the complexities and costs involved. We tend to work best with experienced software development managers who understand agile and might be looking to extend the functionality of an existing desktop application. If you’re developing a new app, monetising new users is hard and takes a long time. If you’re experienced and understand the world of software you can accelerate the whole process of app monetisation. You might even want to consider a build, operate, transfer (BOT) development model.

Expanding your desktop software experience into mobile

If you’re a business seeking to expand an existing desktop software experience, mobile is a natural fit. But tapering mobile capability and expertise into your organisation is challenging. We’ve spent considerable time covering the benefits of agility in mobile, how to recruit a team of app developers and build, operate, transfer. If you’re a software development manager and you have experience with agile, your chances of success are far greater than an app entrepreneur investing in a new idea for the first time. Expanding a desktop app into mobile is likely to deliver strong ROI but the challenge is getting the right mobile team in place.

Marketing your app

Marketing consumer apps can be an expensive process. In all our years of developing apps, we’ve found that the successful ones tend to start with a clear understanding of how the technology can be marketed and nurtured to success. Developing an app is one thing, making sure it’s a winner on the app store is a different story and requires considerable investment. If you’ve not already considered how to promote your app, it’s worth looking at discovery/onboarding techniques and thinking about how much this is likely to cost. If you have an existing client base or are looking to enhance a software experience for a current set of users, this will reduce your marketing overhead.

How to measure your key measures of mobile success

Here are the key things to think about when planning your mobile initiative:

1.) Drawing in consumers and monetising them is a smart move, but it tends to be a fairly lengthy process in our experience. App onboarding and App Discovery Optimisation are challenging. It’s important that you’ve a depth of experience in doing this to start generating revenue faster
2.) Experience ‘augmentation’ is a really good idea, and generally it delivers, albeit it tends to focus on the younger demographic
3.) Expanding an existing desktop software experience – this is generally a great investment. Any software experience should be built ‘mobile always’ if not ‘mobile first’ these days
4.) Apps aimed at efficiency have a genuine ROI and are generally low risk. You stand a good chance of getting a return or impressing stakeholders
5.) Apps aimed at brand awareness are in our experience medium risk. You need to be very clear about what the purpose of the app is, and have a considerable marketing effort or budget to succeed

So what did we learn?

– The majority of businesses don’t have a clear measure of success in mind for their mobile project
– Two thirds of businesses don’t have analytics or systems in place to measure the performance of the app
– Only 5% of businesses have a fixed and approved budget
– Fewer than 1 in 5 businesses have already created wireframes, project documentation, API specs and user stories before engaging an app developer
– Over half of businesses looking to develop an app have no previous software development experience
– Nearly a third of businesses suggested their app wouldn’t need any form of optimisation post launch
– Nearly 10% of businesses have no marketing budget for their app project

In our experience, many businesses have killer ideas for apps, etc, but sadly, they tend not to be equally equipped with software commercialisation experience. This is a minefield if you’re new to mobile. Therefore, we almost always shy away from working with ‘app entrepreneurs’ as they tend to have a budget for the build but haven’t always thought about what it takes/costs to commercialise their app idea. If you’re an enterprise getting into mobile, or looking to expand an existing desktop app, that’s great, you’re in a good place to get started.

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