Mobile App Development

7 Steps to Building a Successful Mobile App – A How-to Guide

8th February 2019

You have to spend money to make money. A mantra of the business community, and an inconvenient truth. Investing in infrastructure, technology, and your workforce is imperative to growth and success. We know it, you know it, and yet many ignore logic and slog on with antiquated systems and needlessly complicated processes. Today we’re exploring the 7 Steps to Building a Successful Mobile App!

Doing nothing is going to damage your business, but rushing for results can sometimes be even worse. A prime example of this is Hotjar, they are a brilliant company that provides heatmaps and analysis for websites.

Founded in 2015, in less than three years these technological evangelists were generating over €15,000,000 in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR). Selling software as a service, Hotjar wanted to become even more accessible to their clients and provide users with a beautiful dashboard on their phones.

With a whole team of accomplished web developers, Hotjar tasked two of their finest to build a Mobile App. Thinking ‘how hard could it be’, they expected the project to take a couple of weeks at most. Fast-forward 3,500 developer hours and $200,000, they realised it takes a lot more than a couple of tech specialists to build a mobile app.

Without the previous experience of building highly successful commercial apps, Hotjar did not have an optimised methodology to follow. They skipped the discovery process, ignored the minimum viable product (MVP), didn’t test the user experience, and dove headfirst into producing an all-singing all-dancing complicated app.

Their app was launched in November 2017, and initial user-feedback indicated they had chosen the wrong features to include… but by then it was too late. By February 2018 there were only 100 active users. By June 2018 the app was dead and subsequently removed from the app store.

Their expensive error taught Hotjar many things. Like a phoenix from the flames, they dusted off the ashes and put in place a Customer Validation process. Ensuring that all future developments are customer-centric and qualified through the beta-testing of an MVP.

Hotjar is not alone in losing copious amounts of money and resources due to underestimating the app-building process. Less than 0.01% of apps become financially viable. Poor user experiences, unnecessary features, and buggy interfaces are all too common when the cost is prioritised over quality, or when companies believe that their developers could nail a world-class digital product on their first attempt.

7 steps to building a successful mobile app!

  1. Focus on the primary purpose of the app and discover your MVP. Define what the user wants, and compare that to what the user needs. Everyone has their list of dreams, aspirations, and wants, but it is essential to be pragmatic and realistic. Waracle conducts specialist Discovery Workshops, and our team of experts are adept at understanding your needs and defining the possible.
  2. Identify the technologies that you need. Voice Control, Augmented Reality, Dynamic Mapping, or maybe you are just looking for a simple interface to visualise multiple streams of data. Different technologies need different specialists, so ensure that you have the capabilities to follow through with your plan.
  3. Create basic clickable prototypes, and get them in the hands of your users. Listen to their critiques, and don’t be afraid to fail at this early stage. In the discovery phase, failing early can help ensure you don’t waste resources developing the wrong product. Focus on the single most important pain point of the user, and provide them with a simple ingenious solution. A simple prototype in your users’ hands should create that ‘Eureka!’ moment, if your idea has the capacity to make life easier for them. It is often best practice to test a few different prototypes, focusing on your top-tier ‘needs’, to ensure you are starting with your maximum impact feature.
  4. Enlist the support of specialists. An experienced team of app developers (such as the specialists here at Waracle) are able to create an MVP, with the capacity for additional features to be rolled out via updates. Not only does this vastly decrease development time and costs (compared to an all-singing and all-dancing app), it also makes it easier for users to become familiar with the app. The First Time User Experience (FTUE) is simplified, as the most important aspects are easier to find and understand, this, in turn, increases retention and is an essential component for gaining traction in an unforgiving market.
  5. Identify key features to release post-launch. It is key to a successful marketing strategy, as it allows consistent dialogue with the users as you tease each new update. This recurring refreshment allows the app to constantly feel new and exciting, encouraging users to be active participants in your digital ecosystem. Just solve ONE problem to start with, and then keep your users by subsequently solving more pain points as the demand is proven.
  6. Prepare for your launch. With your MVP built and ready to go, there is still a lot of work to be done. Many brands underestimate the importance of a well-marketed launch and often miss out on the bare minimum requirement. Aesthetically pleasing screenshots, text optimised for converting readers, and ideal keyword densities to acquire traffic, are all essential components to a professional App Store Presence. Because regardless of how good your app is if your users can’t find it… then it is useless.
  7. Never stop testing. A-B test your store presence upon launch (on Google Play) and learn from the metrics. This allows you to know what words, pictures, and information are successfully driving those installs and building your user base. An effective optimisation strategy can often double Organic Downloads and can be a far cheaper option compared to Paid User Acquisition. It also allows your app to develop and grow with the user base, contributing towards a sustainable digital ecosystem.

So, there you have it, the 7 Steps to Building a Successful Mobile App! Building a world-class Mobile App is not simple. It takes years of experience and a lot of teamwork. Sadly many brands have attempted to develop fully in-house, and like Hotjar, this often results in £100,000s and 1000s of hours wasted. This would not happen if they took the time to explore their MVP, and enlisted the specialist help of experienced Mobile App Developers.


If your business won’t settle for any less than success and the UK’s leading Mobile App Development Company, then please follow this link to get in touch and kickstart your digital transformation today.

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