Many entrepreneurs seek to gain a competitive edge by creating a proprietary app for their business. An app can act as a direct-marketing channel between companies and their customers, allowing quick and effective communication. By using an in-house app, businesses can send notifications about new promotions and discounts or changes to services or products.
Proprietary apps also allow customers to browse your store and make purchases from wherever they are. Some businesses even use their apps to alert customers to new products and upcoming events, and to automate multiple business tasks. Given the vast potential that in-house apps hold for entrepreneurs, below is a quick overview outlining how a company can create an app most effectively.
Start with Market Research
Is there sufficient demand for your app to be viable? Conducting market research and knowing your target audience should be your first step in developing a proprietary app. Make sure your initial research includes the demographics and buying patterns of your buyer persona. Also be sure to determine:
- Your potential customers’ pain points, needs, preferences and how you can solve their issues
- Your competitors‘ offerings to customers, their strategies and how you can distinguish yourself from them
- The pros and cons of similar already-developed apps in terms of what users like and don’t like about them, and how those apps are being monetized
- Your business model, and how your app will make money
Create App Wireframes
A wireframe architecture for an app should be created first to detail its overall artistic design, including color palettes, fonts and graphics. The framework should provide a clear understanding of the app’s features and functionalities, as well as how the user will navigate through it.
By drawing detailed sketches of the envisioned app, you can define what will go on each screen, each pictures’ position and the layout of the user interface. These sketches will also help your developer and designer better understand your expectations and uncover potential usability issues.
Building a detailed app wireframe requires engaging the right people and leveraging their knowledge. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various navigation schemes, button designs and the flow between screens to find the right choice.
Select Your Team
To streamline the process and reduce associated costs, consider hiring a developer and designer, or seek out an app development company Before engaging such a service, go online to check their credibility, experience, references and previous apps they created.
Provide your development team with a list of all the functional and nonfunctional requirements for your app. This allows them to help you choose the right development platform for your end users. The selection of the platform will vary, depending on your business type and target audience.
Evaluate Technical Feasibility
In this phase of the app development process, you must check whether the back-end systems will be able to support the app’s functionality. To assess the technical feasibility of your app, it is also wise to access public data by sourcing open application programming interfaces, or APIs.
Plan and Design
The design phase involves intense technical planning and multiple review stages. Your user experience designer will help you connect different app screens to enable your customers to place orders most conveniently. However, your user interface designer will build the look and feel of your application. Once you finalize names, icons and graphics for your app, make sure the design meets the selected platform’s requirements.
Build a Prototype
Construct a prototype to authenticate the features and functionalities of your app. Prototyping can help you determine whether the design is going in the right direction, including elements such as the touch experience, user interaction and flow. It will also help you gather user feedback before the final launch and to see how it works in the most common use scenarios.
Develop the App
In this phase, your whole project will be divided into shorter and more manageable development cycles to start coding. The development team writes pieces of code that another team will test later, and the cycle repeats until all the code is bug-free. The app’s basic functionalities are built first, and then the rest of the essential features are integrated. Aim to utilize a development platform that most of your target audience also uses, such as Google Android or Apple iOS.
Market Your App
The success of an app depends heavily on successful marketing strategies, such as branding and promotions by influencers. Research the SEO, design, functionality and keywords of high-performing apps and aim to emulate some of their marketing strategies. Be sure to highlight the features of your app that make them stand out from the competition.
Another savvy marketing tactic is to publish a blog documenting the app-making process and encouraging readers to subscribe for updates and share the blog with their friends. Also, share news on social media and build a landing page to showcase your app and to capture emails for your marketing campaign.
Your mobile app should be user-friendly and highly responsive with an engaging user experience. Start with a minimum viable product and conduct early tests to refine your app. Testing early and frequently gives you the advantage of fixing a bug right when it occurs. After testing each feature, record the results and make improvements based on the feedback you receive. Usability, compatibility, security, user interface and experience, and performance should all be tested before the app is launched
Deploy Your App
Once beta testing is complete, you are ready to launch your app on the desired platforms. The policies for launching an app will vary among application stores, meaning you must register for a developer account with each one and follow their individual guidelines to sell your app through that platform. You can also register as an individual or as a company if you already have one formed.
Integrate Analytics, Payment Options and Data Security
Set up analytics to track downloads, user engagement and experience for your app. Leverage the data it generates to make important business decisions.
Integrate payment options into your app to enable direct payment. These should be easy to access, fast and secure to provide a better customer experience.
Provide Support and Maintenance
Once your app goes live, you will start receiving feedback that you should monitor to incorporate into future versions. Customer feedback will provide you with fresh insights into how to improve and expand your app’s features. Keep in mind that maintenance will be required to bring new updates and features to your app over time. Also, provide your app users with support services that can answer their questions.