Mobile App Development – Pt.1: Discovery
“If your plans don’t include mobile, your plans are not finished.” So said Wendy Clark, once SVP at Coca-Cola and now CEO at DDB Worldwide.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably fair to say that you’re on the same page as Wendy, and tens of thousands of others. Mobile has come a long way, and has a lot more to show us yet. Those that haven’t dipped their proverbials in the often lucrative waters of the mobile app may be starting to feel that they’ve been left behind, particularly as emerging technologies such as Voice and AR, and the realm of IoT, start serving up even greater opportunities for enterprise than were first imagined. But is the mobile app for your enterprise? What do you need to consider before you think about embarking down the mobile app development path?
The five stages of a mobile app development project are usually broken down into several key stages – Discovery; Wireframing; Prototyping, Development; and Testing and Deployment – and all are critical to the app’s success.
The Discovery phase of the mobile app development project is where you start to get serious about your big idea, taking it from mere ‘Hey, great idea!”, to, ‘This can work”. Discovery is critical in ensuring app success, and no serious player would move an inch forward without completing it. It’s this process that, whether you go ahead or not, provides clarity around every element of your project, pulling it all together and helping your team produce a fully functioning app.
So if you’re thinking about taking your App idea forward, here’s the low-down on what you need to be thinking about as part of the Discovery phase – leap in and start doing!
Is the mobile app right for my business?
Critical in addressing before anything much else is done, ‘Is a mobile app right for my business?’ ought to be the starting point. There are several sub-questions that fall under this umbrella, from, ‘Do my competitors have an app?’, to, ‘Is there a problem that my app will solve?’, to, ‘Is our site optimised for mobile?, and they’ll all impact the decision to proceed or otherwise. Our advice? Tarry here for as long as is needed to get clarity.
“What if the next mobile revolution is all about real-world and context-driven experiences — individual needs that are taken care of through mobile, making our lives easier and more seamless?” Elad Natanson, Forbes 2017
Define the objectives of your mobile app
Once you’ve decided that a mobile app is going to be a good thing for your enterprise – and crucially, for those that are going to be using it – it’s time to get clarity around your objectives.
From adding value to the customer experience to improving engagement; streamlining business processes, to increasing brand recognition, being clear around why you’re building an app will give you a solid starting point for moving forward with creating it. How else, after all, will you know whether your app’s functionality will ensure you’re going to be able to meet those objectives – or whether or not it’s been successful in achieving them? The good news is that once you’ve clarified your objectives, you’ll be ready to start getting creative with ideas that are going to help you address the problems you’re trying to solve
Research, research, research!
Unless you know what’s already out there, you can’t possibly hope to trump it with your own killer app idea. Research is another crucial stage of your mobile app development creation – skip it at your peril! Taking a deep dive into the existing market and getting a clear understanding around the pain-points you’re wanting to address will mean you’re armed with the information you need to give your app the best start in life:
- What are your competitors doing?
- What issues are they solving with their app
- Where are they falling short?
- What are their app reviews like?
- Perhaps most crucially, what insights can you glean when it comes to potential users?
Answering these questions will help you to start formulating your app ‘personas’, functionality and features- and it’s critical for creating a user-centric app that nails both your business needs and those of your intended audience.
… then Strategy
By this stage in the Discovery process, you’re going to have a pretty robust plan for taking your mobile app development project forward. You’ve got the idea, you’ve clarified a mobile app is the right thing for business, you’ve done your research and you’ve set your objectives – and the result should be a solid framework for app project success. But before you do anything else, there are a few more elements that need clearing up – budget, time and people.
Budgeting for your mobile app development project
The cost of creating, developing and shipping a mobile app varies considerably, depending on features, complexity and the team you choose to collaborate with. One thing remains relatively true, however – whatever route you’re going, you’ll get what you pay for. Simple, feature-light apps will obviously be light on your purse strings, with enterprise apps raising both the bar and the process to take it to completion. The advice – completing the steps above will give you a very clear idea of where on the’ simple-to-all-singing-all-dancing’ scale your app is likely to sit and budget accordingly.
Are you likely to be under pressure to ship your app to a tight timescale – or have you got time to spare? Attempting to ship your app super-quickly can work both for and against you. You could be first out there with your brilliant idea and smash it before the competition – and risk slow uptake and features revision, or you could take your time to work on the features and functionality that will blow the competition out of the water but let your competition pip you at the post. The bottom line? Have a clear idea of how long you realistically have to devote the necessary time, resources and finances to your project, and never, ever ship an app that’s going out before it should.
Either you’re confident you can nail this mobile app project in-house, or you’re not – but you’ll need more information to decide. If you’re sure off the bat you’ve got a team that can deliver on each and every aspect of the 5-stage project, then in-house it is! Not confident at all? Don’t even think about in-house. Partnering with an agency that can support you over the long haul is your path. We wrote a great blog piece here about choosing the right mobile app development company – if this is your route, there’s some fabulous advice in there.
So that’s it! You want to build a Mobile App? Then the Discovery phase of the mobile app development project has to happen – do the homework, make a plan and start turning your idea into something that could add real value where it’s needed.
Next time, we’ll be taking a look at the next phase of your app project, Wireframing – the stage where you start to get a good understanding of your apps functionality … how your users are going to interact with it, and revealing any stumbling blocks you hadn’t considered. This is where your app starts to come to life – you won’t want to miss it!