Mobile app development and the successful launch of a mobile app are not for the faint-hearted.
There are millions of applications available for both iOS and Android users. Creating something unique and compelling that engages users on a recurring basis is the dream everyone aspires to. But often mobile apps fail short of hitting the mark on these objectives.
What if we told you that following our simple seven-step process to building and launching an app would get you closer to successfully meeting your business, traffic and engagement roles?
At Y Media Labs we’ve worked with hundreds of clients, and our mobile apps are now used by over 300 million happy customers. Creating and releasing apps that wow and delight users is our bread and butter.
We’ve come up with a simple but effective process to help you understand the key stages to developing a successful app.
Step 1: Define your goals
The first step in any project is to have a clearly defined set of goals. These are business goals, user goals, engagement goals and more. Probably the single most important question you need to ask yourself is: what is the problem you are trying to solve for your target audience? Is that a real problem? If so, is your proposed solution likely going to truly solve it?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can look at the established players on the market and figure out how to provide a better alternative than what they offer. Whether you choose to develop a mind-blowing user interface, or the less noble approach of cloning the lead product and undercutting price, it is always important to have a strategy.
Step 2: Learn from competitors
So you have an idea for an app, and you think your solution will be better than anything else currently available on the market. Great!
Before you document all requirements and start discussing design options and user flows, you should properly research all current competitors. And not just direct competitors. Research every company that provides similar value to a user even if you don’t think they offer the same value proposition as your future app. Look at what they offer, how their user experience flows from one task to another and one screen to another. Read the reviews left online by users of the competing apps.
The ultimate goal of competitive research is to see what your competition does well, what they don’t do well, and what they don’t do at all. Then you compare what they offer with what you plan on building.
Step 3: Conceptualize your interface
Great mobile applications start with a UI concept, and then work toward development solutions to reach this interface. The simplest way to get moving on this side of the design process is to sketch out how you envision your interface and how your application workflow might develop.
Once you are satisfied with your basic concept, it’s time to pull in the designers and developers to start wireframing. At YML, our team is full of experienced mobile application designers who are well versed in the common pitfalls of mobile application development. Pull us into the project at an early stage, and we’ll save you time and money by designing an award-winning interface for you.
Step 4: Make technical specifications
With your goals in mind, and now with a clear view on how your application will come together, you will have to clearly define your technical specifications. If you are not a mobile UX expert or developer, it is essential to get some professional support at this stage. Mobile experts understand the realm of possibilities opened up by innovative mobile technology.
The YML team can help you select your development platform and structures, which will define how users interact with your application. Our developers and designers build static and dynamic applications for all platforms. Simply tell us about your idea, and we will be able to recommend the technical specifications that are right for your business.
Step 5: Create a beta version (working prototype) for testing with potential users
Now the real excitement starts as you create the beta version of your application. This is about putting your plan into action and coming up with the first, rough iteration of your design. Try to get this rudimentary form to look aesthetically like the real thing.
With tools like Axure, Irise or Proto.io, you can create a working prototype without writing a single line of code. And then by using platforms like UserTesting.com you can put your prototype in front of potential users and get their feedback. Armed with this feedback, you will be in a position to make some final adjustments to your application before launch.
If the feedback calls for radical changes to the way your app functions, then you must return to the wireframing and tech spec stages and run through a second round of beta testing before launch.
Step 6: Launching version 1.0
Congratulations, you have a product ready to launch! Once the new version of your product is ready, make sure you send it through ongoing rigorous testing. Work out how your app will be distributed and open up your sales channels for business. Ensure that you have proper web analytics tracking in place to record and assess your success.
Step 7: Marketing your app
Building an app and launching it is only half the battle. Getting traction for your mobile application requires some serious legwork, but it is well worth the while.
Use the knowledge that you have accumulated throughout the development process to inform your marketing strategy. Your app undoubtedly means different things to different people, so embrace that and create branding collaterals for each target audience you have defined as likely to use your app (media kits, social media tone and voice, influencer outreach templates and more).
That’s it, folks. When done right, these seven steps are likely to propel you and your product ahead of your competitors while providing real value to your user base.
Hungry for more knowledge? We created mobile products for companies like L’Oreal, PayPal, First Data or Syncplicity. Read our case studies.