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Mobile App KPI’s – 10 app performance questions you need to answer

mobile app KPIs

Mobile App KPIs are so important and yet often they are not defined clearly.  At Kumulos, we talk to A LOT of mobile app developers and app publishers and the topic often turns to “What are the most important things to know about how your apps are performing?” To help, we’ve pulled together the 10 questions you have to answer in order to know how your app is performing. Think of these as your Mobile App KPIs – the most important things you need to regularly track to make sure you drive mobile app success.

mobile app KPIs

To an extent, what you measure depends on the objectives of the app and the context of the user. E.g. is it a business to consumer app that most users will find through the Apple or Google Playstore? Is it focused on business users, as an extension of your business service, or are the app users mainly your own employees? Regardless, you need to have mobile app KPIs but some will be more relevant than others.

10 questions you need to answer

In this blog, we suggest the 10 questions you MUST have answers to, if you are to be truly on top of the performance of your mobile app.

Knowing exactly what questions to ask yourself (or your mobile app development partner who is helping you) is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Getting data out of your app is easy, but organizing it around a set of questions you need to know the answer to will make sure that your data gives you meaningful insights. Insights that you can then set as benchmarks and mobile app KPIs to make sure what you do drives the right outcome for your app.

So, get ready with your answers…

1. How well are you driving new app downloads – volume AND relevance?

How well is your app performing in the app store? Could you improve the discoverability of the app? Could you promote the app better to drive more downloads?

Is the description driving the right types of downloads? Is it setting the right expectation for what the user can expect when they first use the app?

Where are your most valuable downloads coming from? What acquisition source is performing best?

Are you analyzing download fraud to make sure the downloads are legit?

Knowing as much as you can about where your downloads are coming from is essential. And when people visit your download page in the Apple or Google App Stores, you need to make sure that you set clear expectations on what the app will do. You need good screenshots and a short explainer video to help drive more downloads and more importantly the right types of downloads. After all, you want downloaders that will value your app and remain active users for longer and be more valuable retained users.

Regularly analyzing the performance of your app in the App Store or Play Store will also give you valuable insights into any problems your user has with your app.  Also, in addition to analysing the right metrics for mobile app KPIs you’ll often get good suggestions on new features you could add to your app.

2. How are your users using your app?

What time during the day are app users most active? Find out and you’ll know when is a good time to reach them with push notifications.

How many times a day do they use your app and for how long each time?
Is average session length rising or falling?

Depending on the context of your app, a rising session length could in fact be a bad indicator. If the purpose of the app is to provide small amounts of information quickly – e.g. is my train on time? In that case, users want to be in and out of the app fast. However, if it’s a social media app, you obviously want the session lengths (and session frequency) to be rising to show that user engagement is increasing.

And what about the macro-trends across your entire user base? Are number of sessions per day increasing (your users are becoming more engaged) or falling (you are losing the attention of your users)?

Modelling your apps “ideal” user and then benchmarking all your users against that profile is a great way to model the desired behavior with your app and then try to understand why all your users aren’t behaving that way.

Using this as a mobile app KPI and measuring the trend over time will help you to see if more of your users are conforming to your “ideal” user will let you see if you are increasing user engagement.

3. What do you know about your app users?

Where are app users located? Are you seeing growth in unexpected countries that you could capitalize on?

Kumulos App User Locations Example

What language do they speak? Is it worth launching a new version of your app in another language to customize the experience for those users?

What’s the ratio of Daily Active Users vs Monthly Active users? DAU/MAU ratio is an important measure of engagement – a rising DAU/MAU over time means more of your users are using the app more often. It’s also important to know what good looks like, so comparing your apps DAU/MAU ratio against others with similar usage patterns can be a useful mobile app KPI.

4. How are users accessing your app?

What devices are people using to access your app?
Is your app optimized for the majority of your users?
What phone operating system are they using?

It’s important to know all of these things so you can focus development effort in optimizing the experience for the devices most accessing your app – e.g. screen dimensions.

What’s the split of users by operating systems Android or iOS (Apple) and which versions of that operating system are most users using? Again, these metrics are important for regression testing future releases of the app in addition to having mobile app KPIs.

Kumulos OS and App Versions Example

5. Which users are still on old versions of your app?

It’s essential to know the distribution across the versions of your app.  Those stuck on earlier app versions are most likely to churn. This is because they will not be getting the best in app experience. They won’t be able to enjoy any of the new features you’ve added to the app over the last few months. Planning push campaigns to encourage users to update to the latest version will increase user stickiness and user retention.

6. How well are you retaining users after they have downloaded?

What are your user retention rates for the app?
How many days after they first downloaded the app, are they still using the app?

If you know this, you can put strategies in place to target users X numbers of days after they first download the app. Showing users the value they will get from continuing to use the app, via push notifications, will have a big impact on driving up retention. In addition, you need to be on top of the technical performance of the app. For example, if the user experience is poor, or, the app is loading slowly, then no matter how good your notification retention campaign is, users will still leave. So, you must be on top of the complete picture and not just snapshots.

7. How is the app performing technically?

How is the technical performance impacting users?
What are the number of crash free sessions?
How many users experience crashes?  What is the percentage of up time of the app and the services it relies on to work properly?

Example of Kumulos Diagnostics

If you don’t know, then you are not on top of the user experience. A bad experience ( such as the app is slow or the app crashes) means you will get bad reviews in the app store (choking the new flow of downloads). And of course, users, especially new users will simply abandon your app, uninstall it, and find another way to give them what they want. So, your user retention rates fall.

Example of Kumulos Endpoint Monitoring

It’s also important to see the trend over time. Is this getting worse or better and are there more problems with Android than iOS or more problems with apps running on specific devices or app versions. Is the app struggling because it relies on unstable API’s or increases in service latency? Crash reporting is vital in order to assess how the technical performance of the app will be impacting users.

8. How successful are you at encouraging users to opt in to receive notifications?

This is an important step in the onboarding process. It may sound obvious, but it’s important not just to ask for their permission to accept notifications but make sure you sell the value of receiving regular messages from the app.

Not only is the interaction with notifications a powerful indicator of user engagement and stickiness, but it’s an essential tool (used wisely) to extend the life of the users and drive up retention.

But this can cut both ways. Over sending information that’s not highly relevant, targeted and customized to the user will have the opposite effect. Poorly thought out campaigns can drive users away from your app and not into your app. So it’s important that you use a system that lets you target notifications at users most receptive to the message.

Location-based targeting or proximity marketing is one of the most powerful ways to send highly relevant location specific content to users. Whether that is targeting users based on where they are located right now – throwing a virtual fishing net over an area – and sending them a message. Or subscribing users to specific groups or channels because you know they have been in a specific place so you can target them later. Or triggering a message as they enter an area, possibly followed up with hyper-local messages as they pass a specific location (like your store front) are all ways to deliver highly relevant, timely notifications that will help the user. Using a solution like Beaconstac along with Kumulos is an easy way to get started with proximity marketing.

It’s also important to see the trend over time. Is this getting worse or better and are there more problems with Android than iOS or more problems with apps running on specific devices or app versions. Is the app struggling because it relies on unstable API’s or increases in service latency? Crash reporting is vital in order to assess how the technical performance of the app will be impacting users.

example of Kumulos Geo Location Push

Are you able to see how successful notifications are at engaging with users? Do you have notifications set to automatically trigger when certain events happen within the app (or don’t happen within the app) to encourage users back to the app, or to complete goal-based tasks within the app.

So, the key here is to really understand how to target users effectively with notifications. Make sure you are only sending them information that’s relevant to them, so they see value, are encouraged back into your app and complete whatever goal that’s relevant to them.

9. How well are your push notification campaigns performing?

It’s good you are using push notifications to encourage and engage your users. But do you know what the unsubscribe rates are like?  Are you over communicating?

Could you be under-communicating and missing a trick to drive up the performance of your app?
What’s the delivery rate of your notifications (are all the notifications you send actually getting to your users)?
What’s the tap through rate?
Are users engaging with the messages you are sending?

These are all very important indications on how well you are interacting with your users, encouraging active users, who will stay engaged and be retained for longer, making your app more successful.

Example Push Notifications Subcribers Kumulos

Make sure that you continually monitor notification subscription rates and have that as a mobile app KPI. Also tracking unsubscribe rates as well as notification open rates will give you a good understanding of how well you are engaging with users.

10. How well is the app converting users?

Even for apps that aren’t designed for users to make purchases, understanding, in detail, user journeys and conversion funnels is essential to continually optimize and improve the user flow.

Example Conversion Funnel Kumulos

Studying simple flows like first onboarding will uncover huge insights into how users experience the first touch of the app. Small increases in the numbers of new users that fully onboard the app, will have a big impact on results from the app. Looking at how long it takes to go from the start of a process to the end, how long each step takes and then targeting long stage delays with improvements in the app will mean that the user flow will be improved. Setting up push notification automations, to target stages with big drop offs (people who get to one stage but don’t complete the next step) and after a short time delay send a message to encourage the next step completion is proven to increase conversion by as much as 70%.

Use these mobile app KPIs to build meaningful insights to optimize your app

So, we have covered the 10 most important questions you need to know about how your app is performing. Covering all of these will ensure you have complete visibility and deep understanding of how your app is performing. It will also let you build meaningful insights into how you can optimize the apps performance and drive even better results.

And if you are looking for a system that can help draw all this together and give you a single pane of glass to manage both the technical AND the commercial performance of your app, then we can help.

Contact us today for a no-obligation demo of Kumulos. Or take us for a spin yourself and sign up for a free trial.

Industrial Augmented Reality Comes of Age

Industrial Augmented Reality

Industrial Augmented Reality has finally come of age. It’s no surprise – for years there’s been much hype around Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality. AR used to be the domain of the Glass-hole or the Pokémon gamer. But no longer.

Industrial Augmented Reality (IAR) Objectives

In a recent report by PTC, the $1.6bn Industrial IoT and Augmented Reality specialist, it says they are expecting 86% of industrial enterprises to launch customer focused AR projects in the next 12 months.

At the moment, there’s a lot of talk about enterprises going through “digital transformation” programs. In fact, they seem to be turning to Industrial Augmented Reality as a way to differentiate their goods and services (50%) and offer more value to their customers, generate higher revenues (28%) and create new business models and revenue streams (17%).

Interestingly, internal projects get a look in too. There is expected to be a significant increase in investment in Business to Employee (B2E) projects. Organizations are waking up to the potential of IAR to increase operational efficiency (44%), support training and skills transfer (39%), lower costs by harnessing AR (33%) as well as increasing manufacturing quality control (28%) and reducing development life-cycles (28%).

In fact, AR technology is reaching a tipping point. It’s moving from the early adopters and lab experiments into the mainstream. Market forecasts estimate that the market is now annually worth $11.14bn rising to over $60bn annually by 2023.

Strongest AR growth is in Industrial Sectors

It’s looking like the strongest growth will be in industrial sectors. Firstly, these organizations have the wallets to invest. Moreover, hardware has matured to the point where the AR technology can be deployed safely and reliably in industrial environments. Gone are the days of the google glass “Glass-holes”. This is now becoming mainstream and cool. The speed at which this market is maturing is impressive. A survey in 2016 showed that just 67% of companies were considering Augmented Reality roll outs – compared to the 86% in 2019.

Top Use Case of Industrial Augmented Reality

Always on top of emerging technology trends and Industry 4.0, Kumulos previously updated our platform to be feature complete with Unity 3D. This means Kumulos supports the full features set within Unity 3D. This allows mobile app owners to manage the content of their mobile app, manage push notifications, view analytics, generate monthly reports and manage & report on crashes. Also, if it calls for it, they can manage app store optimization (ASO) – all within one single pane of glass.

Oil & Gas Sector Use Case

IAR is already being used in a broad range of industries including Industrial AR in the Oil & Gas sector. For example, Mozenix works with some of the world’s top companies to develop high performance mobile apps for Apple ARKit and Google ARCore across many industry sectors. In particular, they have been developing a new application called R2S AR for the oil and gas industry. This use of AR is reducing costs and enhancing operational efficiency.

Watch the video. See R2S Technical Director explore their AR application to gain an insight into this latest use of AR.  It extends the value proposition of their software to include both remote and on-site users.

As you can see, all project data held by clients in R2S is now accessible through intrinsically safe mobile devices. Users can simply point the device at the equipment on-site and R2S AR will provide detailed information on, for example, but not limited to; maintenance history, asset registers and live data feeds.

Add Augmented Reality to your Mobile App Development Services

If you want to find out how you too could offer Augmented Reality services, contact us and arrange a demo today.  Or, sign up for a free trial of Kumulos and get started with the platform which gives you all the tools for mobile app development in one place.

Otherwise, if you are about to embark on an Augmented Reality journey yourself and looking for AR experts to help you, we’ve done some of the leg-work for you. We recently summarized who we see as the leading Augmented Reality Development Companies. Good Luck.

Smart Geo-fencing! What a Whopper from Burger King

Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” stunt targets McDonald’s by placing a Geo-fence with a 600 feet radius around each one of their 14,000 outlets. Then when someone with the Burger King mobile app on their phone crosses the Geo-fence, it triggers a special offer letting them order a Burger King for a penny. They are using this guerrilla marketing stunt to promote their refreshed app and the new advance order function, while at the same time catching customers that may otherwise be tempted to buy a McDonald’s instead. A smart way to target folks may be ready to buy a burger and increase the catchment area for restaurant footfall.

Retailers have been geo-targeting each other’s outlets this way for a while. For example, Dunkin Donuts back in 2014 delivered discount coupons to folks near Starbucks coffee shops. They achieved substantially higher coupon redemption rates than other promotions, showing the power of proximity-based mobile promotions.

This latest initiative from Burger King is a great example of how to use the power of relevance and immediacy by offering customers something highly relevant and timely. Their proximity promotion is designed to retain customers that may be tempted to a competitor and promote a cool new feature in their app. An app, by the way, that’s been desperately needing a major revamp for a while.

A few thoughts on this

A one hit wonder?

They just let you redeem the Penny Burger once. You can understand the economics here. Users could easily gamify the offer and live on Penny Burgers for the duration of the offer. But I wonder if Burger King are losing an opportunity here. Rather than offering more burgers at 1 cent. They could still offer incentives (like Go-Large or fries free) that would still draw their customers back to Burger King and away from McDonald’s longer term. The penny offer only lasts for a few weeks.

Works only where restaurants are close

When you place your order, the mobile app will guide you to the nearest Burger King to go collect their pre-ordered meal. It also lets the person easily see how much of a detour they’d have to make for the Penny Offer. So with that it’s only really going to work if their outlets are close by. It would be really interesting to know how “elastic” the offer is in terms of the distance customers are willing to travel to save themselves a few dollars. Not 30 miles, according to this review on the app store. And it appears a good revenue booster for McDonald’s.

Beacons + Geo-fences = even smarter

They could go one step further and integrate beacons with geo-fences. So, when someone has the promotion triggered on their phone and then approach the Burger King outlet the beacon recognizes them and loads their pre-order confirmation on their device.

It’s simple to set some basic automation rules that chain-links geo-fences and beacon triggers together to give a much rich user experience. We can show you how if you are interested.

Unintended consequences

We understand the original plan was to catch Burger King customers with wavering loyalty and navigate them away from McDonald’s to their nearest Burger King to pick up food. An unintended consequence of the offer is to incentivize Burger King customers to seek out their local McDonald’s to trigger the offer. So in effect promoting the location of their competitor, which is an interesting approach. It would be fascinating to see how that plays out in the long term. Or are Burger King just assuming that if you eat burgers you’ll already know where the local McDonald’s is anyway. But that’s a BIG assumption.

Did Burger King miss the Technical Black-spots?

No matter how clever the marketing campaign, if it doesn’t work technically it risks more harm than good. From the comments in the app store following the release of their revamped app pre-ordering risks being an own goal for Burger King.

Their app users have been waiting a looooong time for a decent app and Burger King have fallen badly behind McDonald’s here. According to this comment on the app store the app they were having some technical issues. From the app store review below, I wonder what this this person did next. My bet is they bought a Big Mac. Doh!

Was Burger King on top of the technical performance of their app and closely monitoring the app and managing the app’s API dependencies? I hope so.

At Kumulos, we see this way too often. No-one having the joined up view. By that I mean the marketing guys focus on app store reviews, downloads and order completions, but have no sight of the technical issues. The IT operations people don’t know what’s happening on the commercial side of the app, so things end up in the cracks.

It looks like even the big app brands get this wrong, but it doesn’t need to be this way for apps of any shape or size. Simply run your app on Unified Mobile App Management Platform and you get the full picture – technical and commercial. A single pane of glass that means you have the complete picture of how well your app is performing and are able to catch problems early.

Understand the User Journey

Unless the Burger King Restaurant is very very close the One Penny offer will most likely appeal to customers in cars.

Here’s the most likely user journey.

They park up at McDonald’s.

They get the One Penny offer.

They place their order.

They use the app to navigate to the Burger King restaurant to pick up their order.

They, of course, take the Drive-Thru.

This is where for Burger King things unravel. Ironically something designed to make the order easier seems to take longer.

For some reason, probably only known to Burger King, it seems you can’t pick up orders made on the mobile through the drive through. A bit of flawed thinking here I think.

As the App Store review says, “A system that is supposed to make things a lot easier, instead made it 1000 times more difficult.”

I guess the lesson from this is pilot first, iron out the crinkles and then go national. Oh and make sure you take your franchise owners with you.

Faster fast food

The order ahead feature in the app, is designed to turbo-charge the fast in their fast food (unless you take the drive through of course, because your order is waiting for you when you arrive. No waiting in line. It’s also a way to drive more value from their mobile app increasing the recency and frequency of mobile app users, giving you a good reason to use the app regularly. In addition, it’s a way for them to compete with delivery services that McDonald’s has recently introduced as well as the other food delivery services like Uber Eats, Deliveroo, GrubHub and DoorDash.

Want to know how geo-gencing is done and whether its right for you?

The retail industry is fiercely competitive, and mobile is the latest battle ground. Get it right, and the results you can get from proximity marketing can be incredible. Get it wrong and it can hurt.

If you are looking to harness the huge potential of mobile location-based targeting then get in touch and we’ll be glad to show you how the big brands do it.

 

How (Not) To Drive Up Mobile App Engagement

Push Notification User Engagement

Something interesting happened to me yesterday. LinkedIn did something very smart. I know, how amazing is that? But, then almost immediately, true to form, they followed it with something equally stupid with Push Notification User Engagement in their mobile app.

It got me thinking though.

There are mobile marketing lessons here around how to cleverly engage with mobile app users. Something that will drive up user engagement and ensure that push notifications are enabled AND stay enabled within your app.

Here’s what happened to me to illustrate this.

I use the LinkedIn mobile app most days, like a lot of people. It’s not great, but it does the job. A while ago, I switched off Notifications. I doubt I am the only one that has done this. It was just too noisy and interrupting me by firing numerous low value notifications throughout the day.

Lesson 1 – Think carefully about how you communicate with users. Over communication or low value communication can be more damaging than no communication at all.

So here comes the good bit.

Yesterday I was using the message feature in LinkedIn. Just as I was closing the app it prompted me with a message that asked if I wanted to be notified if “John” replied to my message. It was a good conversation. So, of course, I wanted to know as soon as he replied. So I responded yes. Genius move from LinkedIn. They are encouraging me to opt into Notifications by showing the value of me doing it with a highly targeted, highly relevant message. It’s not the bland request you often get, “Do you want to receive Push Notifications”. Very smart.

But then it all goes wrong. Instead of allowing me to subscribe just for notifications from Messages in my Inbox, they turned the fire-hose on me, bombarding me with general notifications AGAIN. LinkedIn – I don’t really want to know someone’s birthday or whether they have changed job. That’s why I opted out in the first place. So what do I do. You guessed it. Notifications are off.

Lesson 2 – If you offer something of value, then deliver on the promise.

What LinkedIn should have done is what they promised and only subscribed me for notifications from messages. That’s what was value to me. The funny thing is it’s easy to do. All their mobile marketers needed to do is have a Channel in the push notification service that’s dedicated to Notifications triggered from new messages or replies in my Inbox. Kumulos (named a top push notifications service by Business of Apps and The Tool) allows you to do that and I am sure that other services would also. With a little more thought from LinkedIn they could have easily given me what I want. Instead they were lazy and opened the notification flood gate on me.

Within LinkedIn someone somewhere came up with the genius idea of using highly relevant, timely and highly targeted notification to increase the recency and frequency of their app users. EXACTLY what they and every other serious mobile app owner should be doing. This would have encouraged me to use the app more often during the day and be able to respond quickly to a message while someone was logged into their LinkedIn account.

Lesson 3 – Relevance is key with Push Notifications. Uses Channels to give the user what they want, not what your KPI’s say you should achieve.

Someone, no doubt had an objective to improve engagement and drive up the ratio of users opting in for Push Notifications. Again a sensible objective to have. But they didn’t think it through. With a little more effort they could have increased the value of the app for me and secure me as a highly engaged user. I am guessing I’m not alone here.

So in summary, Push Notification user engagement is important. When done correctly, you can increase retention with push notifications.  If you want users to be engaged with your app and be in your app frequently Push Notifications are one of the most effective weapons in your armoury. They can add huge value to your app itself by in this case allowing the user to respond quickly to messages. On the flip side of the coin they can equally as easily destroy value if they are used crudely. Encourage users to enable Notifications by showing them the value it will create for them. Don’t then use this as an excuse to then bombard them with unwanted interruptions. Think through what users want from the Notification Service and give them the ability to subscribe for what’s relevant to them, especially if the smart opt in message sets that expectation with them.

About Kumulos Push Notifications

The Kumulos Push Notification platform lets you offer a push notifications service to your clients to increase engagement in their app. Alternatively, give your clients control with an easy-to-use, branded Push Notifications Mobile Marketing Automation Portal where they can create campaigns and view results. Either way, Kumulos lets you offer more. So you stand out from the crowd and win more projects. What’s more we help you maximize the life-time value of your clients by keeping your customers close, so it’s you they come to for follow on projects. Take a 30-day free trial today and see how easy it is to drive up mobile app user engagement using push notifications.

Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers

Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers

In the UK, the north, that’s anything north of Watford for those based in London, used to be thought of as a technology hinterland. Not anymore. The Northern Powerhouse is now firmly established as a hot-bed for mobile app innovation, so this is why in this article we showcase this talent and show the Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers. Major enterprises are increasingly looking to businesses based in and around Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield and the rest to deliver creative solutions to their business problems. Be that Mobile Apps, Internet of Things Apps – IoT, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality – AR/VR or Artificial Intelligence.

top mobile app developers northern powerhouseIn this latest Kumulos blog, we look at some of the talent based there and review the Best Midlands and Northern Powerhouse Mobile App Developers.

Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers

Apadmi

Apadmi could be described as one of the gorillas of the Northern Powerhouse. Founded 9 years ago by Garry Partington, Nick Black, Adam Fleming and Howard Simms, along with their 70-strong team, their clients include some of the most impressive businesses across the UK and Europe. They work across a wide range of industries, but over the years have built up expertise in Healthcare, Travel and Retail. Their clients include Argos, Lexus, the NHS, Range Rover, EE, SkyScanner, and the BBC.

They describe themselves as a mobile technology company that works with clients of all sizes to understand how and where to use mobile in their organization, to improve their operations and deliver the complete solutions needed to make it happen. They are experts across the entire mobile journey – from interface to server to data. As you’d expect from an organization like Apadmi they cover the entire development lifecycle and are a team of thinkers, developers, designers, UX-ers and inventors, who see it as their role to continuously look for ways that technology can improve things for their clients.

Their development approach is customer-centric. They don’t focus on any one technology, but can operate across platforms delivering apps on native, hybrid, web portals and voice apps on Alexa. They understand the customers’ needs and then apply the best technology solution.
This video is a good showreel of their work.

Apadmi also have an investment arm Apadmi Ventures. Led by Howard Simms they seek out and invest in early-stage, highly-scalable technology companies. They offer much more than investment capital too, giving advice and technology expertise to help nurture and grow ideas, turning them into a successful venture.

Follow: Apadmi on Twitter

Codevate

Codevate has been in business for over 5 years. Strictly speaking they are too far south to be included in the Northern Powerhouse blog as they are based in Birmingham. But what they do and how they do it meant we just had to include them. Formed and run by Sam Jones and David Bennett their mission is to close the Technology Gap to create a competitive advantage for their clients. They describe themselves as a Software Development Consultancy, rather than a Mobile App Development Company, as they combine mobile technology with cloud-based systems to produce digital ecosystems that enhance their clients’ business processes. They work with native & web apps as well as cross-platform solutions in particular React Native.

They follow their own internally developed, tried and tested multistage process which takes inspiration from Lean and Agile development. More Kanban feel than pure SCRUM.  This ensures the development process has clear multistage goals and short-term ROI based deliverables, so their clients can see the value at every stage. They focus on building a Minimum Viable Product and then build on that initial value with subsequent phases. This way their clients see value early and the course can be adjusted as the project takes shape.

They don’t have any particular industry bias. They say, quite rightly, that every industry has problems that can be solved by digital and mobile technology. That said they have a lot of experience with Remote/Field workers, Social Media and Dating as well as Manufacturing, especially around IoT.

Codevate see their particular strengths as being able to quickly extract and distill domain knowledge from their clients. Together with this business knowledge and Codevate’s technical know-how they are able to build workflows that optimize processes that can then be enhanced through technology.

Follow: Codevate on Twitter

Corporation Pop

Corporation Pop is one of the longest established Mobile App developers in our Northern Powerhouse blog having been around in various forms since 1991. Innovation and exploring new technologies flows through their veins. Run by Dom Raban and Dan Taylor along with their 20 strong team, they have a strong culture that focuses on innovation and continually pushing the possible to deliver the best outcomes for their clients.

Corporation Pop is all about innovation, good design and effective use of technology and it’s the smart use of all three that really make them different. They operate across many different industries but have built particular expertize in Entertainment, Health and Education. Proof of this comes through in the impressive clients they work for, which include the BBC, Channel 4, the British Council,  Unilad and the NHS. They are also developing their own IP with an innovative app that uses AR, artificial intelligence and gameplay to help children going into hospital.
They work across all technologies and describe themselves as platform agnostic, so can handle Native, Hybrid or responsive web apps. Given their heritage in entertainment they have particular expertise with Unity 3D

This video shows you the award-winning work they do.

Follow: Corporation Pop on Twitter

Dreamr

Dreamr started in Manchester back in 2104 by Jack Mason CEO and Mylo Kaye Strategic Director. They have a team of 20 based from their central Manchester office. Working with Dreamr you’ll get a good understanding of what makes them different; they are huge believers in giving back. So much so that they donate 10% of their time every month to help worthwhile causes in the Greater Manchester area.

They work across a broad range of clients and industries, but what really gets them excited are projects that make a difference to people’s lives, such as social good & assisted living projects, or projects that use technology to help bridge the generational gap and unify different demographics.

There are two arms to the Dreamr business. The traditional mobile app development business and the investment arm, Dreamr Ventures. Here they work with their entrepreneurial clients to harness that entrepreneurial spirit, shape the idea, prototype and bring it to market. They are proud of the fact that they don’t just develop software but develop their clients thinking to make sure what they produce meets the needs of the end customer.

Where their customers need it, Dreamr can offer the full mix of services, from product proposition development, design/prototyping, full stack development through to app marketing. They even help with investment pitches and securing funding for their idea.

Here is a couple of customers they work with to get a feel for the work they do.
Go-Local – helping local businesses get app technology so they can compete better with national chains

Corner – a wearable digital fitness trainer app for boxing, that was showcased at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and features on Dragons Den.

Follow: Dreamr on Twitter

Desap

Roger Martin Kadama launched Desap in Manchester, England back in 2014. They now have 40+ staff working at their HQ near the vibrant Media City in Salford.
Their wraparound approach is to work as an extension to their clients own in-house teams. They work closely, collaborating with their clients at every stage of the design, development and testing process; from defining the strategy, to UX design, build, test and release phase. They also offer an ongoing service to ensure that the initial investment in the app continues to deliver value as business and customer needs evolve.

Their core skills are in native app development where they help a broad range of clients to embrace mobile technology to improve their business performance. They work at the bleeding edge of innovation, with organizations like Manchester University and the National Graphene Institute which is looking to exploit the commercial potential of Graphene.

A few other examples of Desap’s work include;

Loadie is a specialist mobile application and customer management system that allows customers to match their unfulfilled loads with drivers and logistics companies who have excess capacity. With state of the are tracking and payment technology Loadie is set to become the Uber of logistics.

Eras+ is a revolutionary app and web function to supports patients in the preparation for, during and after major surgery. Its core aims are to ensure enhanced recovery, reduced post-surgical complications and a better overall patient journey through the health economy.

Respassist is a mobile solution to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory problems in patients. This app helps GPs and Practice Nurses access resources and patient statistics to improve treatment protocols.

Here’s a link to Desap Instagram page to get an insight into what they’re about.

hedgehog lab

hedgehog lab are one of the most established businesses in our Northern Powerhouse blog. Founded in Newcastle 11 years ago by Sarat Pediredla, CEO & Mark Foster Chief Innovation Officer, they currently have more than 130 staff across their offices in the UK, North America and their development center in India.

They describe themselves as a Global Digital Product Consultancy helping their clients get the best out of both Mobile and broader digital technology, but with a firm emphasis on Mobile-First. What makes hedgehog lab special is their heavy focus on design coupled with an Agile Delivery process. This lets them innovate faster and learn along with their clients. This is reinforced by their Innovation Lab which epitomises their unique culture. It stretches the possible, both technically and commercially with their clients, to help businesses look beyond just apps to the benefits that can be delivered from wider avenues of digital transformation.

They don’t specialise in any one industry vertical, but have built up particular expertise in Healthcare, Retail, Utilities, Education, Travel and Fintech. They boast a very impressive client list that includes AkzoNobel, Home Group, Leisure Pass Group, Northumbrian Water and Thales.

They can handle projects across a broad range of technologies that include Javascript, Swift, Java, Kotlin and Python and have in-depth experience building mobile applications around AI, XR, as well as Native and Responsive Web Apps.

Follow: hedgehog Lab on Twitter

Huddled

Huddled is a Manchester based bespoke software and mobile app development company. In their current form, they have been around since 2017, but their history and track record in web and mobile technology goes back 10+ years. Huddled is run by the Yates brothers, Paul and Justin, along with Martin Vernon as Development Director. They lead a team of 15 made up of a mix of developers, digital marketing experts and business development.

They describe themselves as a Software Boutique that can go beyond just development. They focus hard on how technology will help solve specific business problems and then offer a solution that is often a mix of web and mobile software. What makes them different is their abilities to then help their customer market their Mobile Apps and drive demand, so they can stay with their clients, after the mobile app goes live.

They operate across a broad range of industries with a slight leaning towards property management. They have helped many organizations, large and small grapple with digitizing analog processes to make their businesses more efficient. HAYS Recruitment and Residential Management Group are good examples of the businesses they work with.
They mainly work with hybrid apps, preferring Ionic/Cordova and Laravel PHP frameworks to give the maximum flexibility and interoperability with their customers’ existing web technologies. They have a pretty unique way of working that is their cut on Agile development & Scrum that they call Huddle!

Check out an example of their recent work in this short video.

Pocketworks

Pocketworks has been based in central Leeds since it was founded in 2012. It’s run by its founder Tobin Harris, Head of Technology Tim Medcalf and Lee Sommerville, Head of Production who manages a team of 14. Put simply they see it as their mission to “Develop mobile apps that help businesses grow.”  They stand firmly behind that statement. All of the apps they build have clear KPI’s so the performance of the app can be easily tracked against the business results their clients expect from their App Investment. Their expertise covers a broad range of industries, but over the last few years have built a strong reputation in customer loyalty apps and apps for electronics manufacturers around smart homes, smart energy and Internet of Things (IoT). They boast an impressive client list that includes:

ASDA where they developed the first app for this major UK retailer, their Price Guarantee app that allowed their customers to check their prices against the competition.

Energenie manufactures devices that turn homes into smart homes where devices can be monitored and controlled remotely. Pocketworks created a suite of apps for their product range to let their customers control devices remotely.

Veezu is a major taxi operator with over 4,000 drivers covering 5 UK cities. For this app, think Uber (only better). Specifically focused at students this app lets their customers book a taxi in less than 5 seconds.

Follow: Pocketworks on Twitter

Tyrell Digital

Tyrell can be found just outside of Leeds city centre not far from the historic Armley Mills. The firm was started a few years back in 2012 by Duncan Scobie who is the Managing Director and still gets his hands dirty as their lead developer. So, when you work with Tyrell you know you are getting their A-Team.

The company works across the full digital spectrum delivering mobile apps, mobile responsive websites and has built a specific expertise in IoT around Bluetooth, NFC and RFID communication protocols. As such they have worked extensively across manufacturing, electronics and healthcare sectors delivering a range of bleeding edge wireless interface projects.

They prefer to deal with interesting projects that push the boundaries of mobile technology, especially in IoT, than chase the big brands. That said, they do have an impressive portfolio of work on show, for clients including The Guardian, Pitman Training and the Medical Protection Society.

 

Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers

So there you have it. Our Best Northern Powerhouse, UK, Mobile App Developers. Of course, the best fit for you depends entirely on your specific needs. But we reckon that with the huge talent, and down to earth approach from Northern Powerhouse Mobile App Developers that you will find an ideal partner for your next mobile app project.

NSDateFormatter Online Guide

nsdateformatter online guide

This blog post has been produced for one simple reason: to save you time.

The number of times we hear of iOS developers hunting to locate the NSDateFormatter string, scrolling through miles of content on unicode.org was getting a little disheartening, so we decided to make this easy and get it in a blog.

Bookmark it, memorise it, share it with friends or link to it. A simple resource that comes in handy.

Date formats for iOS 6+, OS X 10.8+

Field Sym. No. Example Description
era G 1..3 AD Era – Replaced with the Era string for the current date. One to three letters for the abbreviated form, four letters for the long form, five for the narrow form.
4 Anno Domini
5 A
year y 1..n 1996 Year. Normally the length specifies the padding, but for two letters it also specifies the maximum length. Example:

Year y yy yyy yyyy yyyyy
AD 1 1 01 001 0001 00001
AD 12 12 12 012 0012 00012
AD 123 123 23 123 0123 00123
AD 1234 1234 34 1234 1234 01234
AD 12345 12345 45 12345 12345 12345
Y 1..n 1997 Year (in “Week of Year” based calendars). Normally the length specifies the padding, but for two letters it also specifies the maximum length. This year designation is used in ISO year-week calendar as defined by ISO 8601, but can be used in non-Gregorian based calendar systems where week date processing is desired. May not always be the same value as calendar year.
u 1..n 4601 Extended year. This is a single number designating the year of this calendar system, encompassing all supra-year fields. For example, for the Julian calendar system, year numbers are positive, with an era of BCE or CE. An extended year value for the Julian calendar system assigns positive values to CE years and negative values to BCE years, with 1 BCE being year 0.
U 1..3 甲子 Cyclic year name. Calendars such as the Chinese lunar calendar (and related calendars) and the Hindu calendars use 60-year cycles of year names. Use one through three letters for the abbreviated name, four for the full name, or five for the narrow name (currently the data only provides abbreviated names, which will be used for all requested name widths). If the calendar does not provide cyclic year name data, or if the year value to be formatted is out of the range of years for which cyclic name data is provided, then numeric formatting is used (behaves like ‘y’).
4 (currently also 甲子)
5 (currently also 甲子)
quarter Q 1..2 02 Quarter – Use one or two for the numerical quarter, three for the abbreviation, or four for the full name.
3 Q2
4 2nd quarter
q 1..2 02 Stand-Alone Quarter – Use one or two for the numerical quarter, three for the abbreviation, or four for the full name.
3 Q2
4 2nd quarter
month M 1..2 09 Month – Use one or two for the numerical month, three for the abbreviation, four for the full name, or five for the narrow name.
3 Sept
4 September
5 S
L 1..2 09 Stand-Alone Month – Use one or two for the numerical month, three for the abbreviation, or four for the full name, or 5 for the narrow name.
3 Sept
4 September
5 S
l 1 (nothing) This pattern character is deprecated, and should be ignored in patterns. It was originally intended to be used in combination with M to indicate placement of the symbol for leap month in the Chinese calendar. Placement of that marker is now specified using locale-specific <monthPatterns> data, and formatting and parsing of that marker should be handled as part of supporting the regular M and L pattern characters.
week w 1..2 27 Week of Year.
W 1 3 Week of Month
day d 1..2 1 Date – Day of the month
D 1..3 345 Day of year
F 1 2 Day of Week in Month. The example is for the 2nd Wed in July
g 1..n 2451334 Modified Julian day. This is different from the conventional Julian day number in two regards. First, it demarcates days at local zone midnight, rather than noon GMT. Second, it is a local number; that is, it depends on the local time zone. It can be thought of as a single number that encompasses all the date-related fields.
week
day
E 1..3 Tues Day of week – Use one through three letters for the short day, or four for the full name, five for the narrow name, or six for the short name.
4 Tuesday
5 T
6 Tu (OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)
e 1..2 2 Local day of week. Same as E except adds a numeric value that will depend on the local starting day of the week, using one or two letters. For this example, Monday is the first day of the week.
3 Tues
4 Tuesday
5 T
6 Tu Tu (OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)
c 1 2 Stand-Alone local day of week – Use one letter for the local numeric value (same as ‘e’), three for the short day, four for the full name, five for the narrow name, or six for the short name.
3 Tues
4 Tuesday
5 T
6 Tu Tu (OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)
period a 1 AM AM or PM
hour h 1..2 11 Hour [1-12]. When used in skeleton data or in a skeleton passed in an API for flexible date pattern generation, it should match the 12-hour-cycle format preferred by the locale (h or K); it should not match a 24-hour-cycle format (H or k). Use hh for zero padding.
H 1..2 13 Hour [0-23]. When used in skeleton data or in a skeleton passed in an API for flexible date pattern generation, it should match the 24-hour-cycle format preferred by the locale (H or k); it should not match a 12-hour-cycle format (h or K). Use HH for zero padding.
K 1..2 0 Hour [0-11]. When used in a skeleton, only matches K or h, see above. Use KK for zero padding.
k 1..2 24 Hour [1-24]. When used in a skeleton, only matches k or H, see above. Use kk for zero padding.
j 1..2 n/a This is a special-purpose symbol. It must not occur in pattern or skeleton data. Instead, it is reserved for use in skeletons passed to APIs doing flexible date pattern generation. In such a context, it requests the preferred hour format for the locale (h, H, K, or k), as determined by whether h, H, K, or k is used in the standard short time format for the locale. In the implementation of such an API, ‘j’ must be replaced by h, H, K, or k before beginning a match against availableFormats data. Note that use of ‘j’ in a skeleton passed to an API is the only way to have a skeleton request a locale’s preferred time cycle type (12-hour or 24-hour).
minute m 1..2 59 Minute. Use one or two for zero padding.
second s 1..2 12 Second. Use one or two for zero padding.
S 1..n 3456 Fractional Second – truncates (like other time fields) to the count of letters. (example shows display using pattern SSSS for seconds value 12.34567)
A 1..n 69540000 Milliseconds in day. This field behaves exactly like a composite of all time-related fields, not including the zone fields. As such, it also reflects discontinuities of those fields on DST transition days. On a day of DST onset, it will jump forward. On a day of DST cessation, it will jump backward. This reflects the fact that is must be combined with the offset field to obtain a unique local time value.
zone z 1..3 PDT The short specific non-location format. Where that is unavailable, falls back to the short localized GMT format (“O”).
4 Pacific Daylight Time The long specific non-location format. Where that is unavailable, falls back to the long localized GMT format (“OOOO”).
Z 1..3 -0800 The ISO8601 basic format with hours, minutes and optional seconds fields. The format is equivalent to RFC 822 zone format (when optional seconds field is absent). This is equivalent to the “xxxx” specifier.
4 GMT-8:00 The long localized GMT format. This is equivalent to the “OOOO” specifier.
5 -08:00

-07:52:58

The ISO8601 extended format with hours, minutes and optional seconds fields. The ISO8601 UTC indicator “Z” is used when local time offset is 0. This is equivalent to the “XXXXX” specifier.
O 1 GMT-8 (OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+) The short localized GMT format.
4 GMT-08:00 (OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+) The long localized GMT format.
v 1 PT The short generic non-location format. Where that is unavailable, falls back to the generic location format (“VVVV”), then the short localized GMT format as the final fallback.
4 Pacific Time The long generic non-location format. Where that is unavailable, falls back to generic location format (“VVVV”).
V 1 uslax The short time zone ID. Where that is unavailable, the special short time zone ID unk (Unknown Zone) is used.

Note: This specifier was originally used for a variant of the short specific non-location format, but it was deprecated in the later version of this specification. In CLDR 23, the definition of the specifier was changed to designate a short time zone ID.

2 America/Los_Angeles The long time zone ID.
3 Los Angeles The exemplar city (location) for the time zone. Where that is unavailable, the localized exemplar city name for the special zone Etc/Unknown is used as the fallback (for example, “Unknown City”).
4 Los Angeles Time The generic location format. Where that is unavailable, falls back to the long localized GMT format (“OOOO”; Note: Fallback is only necessary with a GMT-style Time Zone ID, like Etc/GMT-830.)

This is especially useful when presenting possible timezone choices for user selection, since the naming is more uniform than the “v” format.

X 1 -08

+0530

Z
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)

The ISO8601 basic format with hours field and optional minutes field. The ISO8601 UTC indicator “Z” is used when local time offset is 0. (The same as x, plus “Z”.)
2 -0800

Z
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)

The ISO8601 basic format with hours and minutes fields. The ISO8601 UTC indicator “Z” is used when local time offset is 0. (The same as xx, plus “Z”.)
3 -08:00

Z
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)

The ISO8601 extended format with hours and minutes fields. The ISO8601 UTC indicator “Z” is used when local time offset is 0. (The same as xxx, plus “Z”.)
4 -0800

-075258

Z
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)

The ISO8601 basic format with hours, minutes and optional seconds fields. The ISO8601 UTC indicator “Z” is used when local time offset is 0. (The same as xxxx, plus “Z”.)

Note: The seconds field is not supported by the ISO8601 specification.

5 -08:00

-07:52:58

Z
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)

The ISO8601 extended format with hours, minutes and optional seconds fields. The ISO8601 UTC indicator “Z” is used when local time offset is 0. (The same as xxxxx, plus “Z”.)

Note: The seconds field is not supported by the ISO8601 specification.

x 1 -08

+0530
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)

The ISO8601 basic format with hours field and optional minutes field. (The same as X, minus “Z”.)
2 -0800
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)
The ISO8601 basic format with hours and minutes fields. (The same as XX, minus “Z”.)
3 -08:00
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)
The ISO8601 extended format with hours and minutes fields. (The same as XXX, minus “Z”.)
4 -0800

-075258
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)

The ISO8601 basic format with hours, minutes and optional seconds fields. (The same as XXXX, minus “Z”.)

Note: The seconds field is not supported by the ISO8601 specification.

5 -08:00

-07:52:58
(OS X 10.9+ & iOS 7+)

The ISO8601 extended format with hours, minutes and optional seconds fields. (The same as XXXXX, minus “Z”.)

Note: The seconds field is not supported by the ISO8601 specification.

Full documentation:

OS X v10.9 and iOS 7 – http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-31/tr35-dates.html#Date_Format_Patterns

OS X v10.8 and iOS 6 – http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-25.html#Date_Format_Patterns

 

Older versions:

iOS 5 – http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-19.html#Date_Format_Patterns

OS X v10.7 and iOS 4.3 – http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-17.html#Date_Format_Patterns

iOS 4.0, iOS 4.1, and iOS 4.2 – http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-15.html#Date_Format_Patterns

iOS 3.2 – http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-12.html#Date_Format_Patterns

OS X v10.6, iOS 3.0, and iOS 3.1 – http://unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-10.html#Date_Format_Patterns

OS X v10.5 – http://unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-6.html#Date_Format_Patterns
OS X v10.4 – http://unicode.org/reports/tr35/tr35-4.html#Date_Format_Patterns

How to Make Sure your App Services Meet Customer Needs

customer-development

If you look at app development in a simplistic way, it’s easy to end up with a rather straightforward life-cycle for an app project:

  • Win the business.
  • Work with the customer to build the app to their satisfaction
  • Get it “out the door” and into the app stores.
  • Get paid and move onto the next thing.
  • Perhaps earn some follow-up revenue if the customer comes back for changes.

Plenty of app development firms work in exactly this way, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that it’s actually rather short-sighted and reactive. It’s also a way of doing business that attracts spells of feast and famine – times scrabbling around for the next project and times when too many jobs are happening at once.

It’s actually pretty simple to adapt your app business so that you can approach things from a far more proactive stand-point. This means more revenue, happier customers, and a more consistent workload for your team, with fewer peaks and troughs.

Here’s a five step guide to better molding your services around customer needs:

1. Break free from the “job and finish” model

It may require a change in perspective, but it’s important to get away from the mind-set where an app project begins when the customer signs the contract and ends when the app hits the stores. In reality, this really isn’t the way; building an app isn’t the same as building a house.

Once you’ve broken out of this way of thinking, it will become natural to explain things to customers in the right terms. Version 1.0 of an app is just the start of the journey if the app is to be in any way successful.

 2. Explain that the project’s not over when the app is built

Once an app is live, there’s still plenty to do. Apps need promoting so that people actually use them, for a start. Then, there’s the fact that however well you’ve tested things, bugs can and will inevitably come to light once more people are let loose on the app.

It’s imperative that someone keeps an eye on user reviews and deals with support queries too, as this can help expose bugs and reveal misunderstandings as to how the app is supposed to work.

All this is just the start. The important thing is that customers understand this fact!

 3. Manage expectations regarding ongoing work

It’s one thing making clients understand that there’s more to “having an app” than building it and releasing it, but clients do need to know what to expect financially. They’re not likely to give you a blank check or an open-ended contract!

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be up-front about telling them what to expect in terms of ongoing costs. Often, companies have no problem spending money when the reason is well explained to them – what they don’t like is unexpected or unclear invoices. Or having this news sprung on them right at the end of the project. Lay it out up front for them and explain that’s just the right way to approach an app to make it succeed.

So, build app updates into your plan; tell customers how frequently they’re likely to need to issue bug-fix releases; and make clear what kind of money they’ll need to spend – not just to get the app “out there,” but to get people actually using it. One of the best approaches is to explain that you work “Lean” and that focusing first on an Minimum Viable App is the most cost effective approach, with subsequent releases prioritized around how the app is actually getting used.

This benefits all concerned: the clients know what to expect, and you lay out a long-term stream of ongoing revenue you can rely on.

4. Understand your client’s business

If you’ve read this far, it’s probably becoming clear that the general objective is to aim for more of a partnership relationship with your clients than one that’s focused around selling a one-off service.

If you’re going to make this work in the long-term, it’s essential that you really start to understand your client’s business.

This has long been a problem for techies of all kinds. IT technicians and developers “working in isolation from the business” is a frequent management complaint, and often a very valid one.

If you are able to separate yourself from this (often all-too-true) stereotype, and make it your business to learn the priorities and objectives of the companies you work with, you really will stand out from the pack. Really getting under the skin of your client and understanding their business and what they need their app to achieve will mean more trust, more work from your clients, and more referrals.

5. Proactively suggest improvements

Really, this leads on from the last point, but you cannot truly deliver here unless you first understand the business of your client(s).

Once you do, you’ll easily be able to merge your technical knowledge and your knowledge of the app marketplace with your knowledge of the customer’s company – and inspiration for app improvements will surely follow.

By keeping the ideas flowing, you will be able to ensure your clients stay focused on the ongoing development of their app – especially if you can suggest ways to boost their revenue. Ideas that are obvious to you may not occur to people removed from the app scene, so don’t underestimate the value of your inspiration.

Keeping an app business customer focused isn’t rocket science, but it is something plenty of firms get wrong. One of the easiest ways to do this is through a monthly App Report. Discussing regularly how the app is performing and suggesting areas where improvements in the app can be made is one of the best ways to drive improvements in the app, and ongoing revenue for your business.

By going back to basics and getting it right, you can form long-term partnerships that continue to please the customer AND make you money – long after version 1.0 has landed in the app store.

Further Reading

Found this useful, then these related articles could also be of interest.

Ask the Right Questions

To really understand your clients needs its about asking the right questions up front. Here’s 20 questions you should make sure you get answered up front to make sure your the app project succeeds for you and your client.

Take an iterative approach to save your clients money and time

Agile development methodology and shipping your first app as an MVP is all about getting the app into the hands of users as fast as possible and then in short time iterate the development of the app to optimize how its performing. There’s no replacement to the real world.

Top Mobile App Developers Los Angeles

Top Mobile App Developers Los Angeles

Here at Kumulos we understand that finding the best mobile app development company to work on your project can be tough. There’s no one size fits all here. It’s about right sizing and finding the right mix of abilities to fit your project.  So to help, we’re reviewing the Top Mobile App Developers Los Angeles. If you’re looking for a top mobile app developer further north, check out our of San Francisco based app developers.

Having reviewed dozens of different mobile development agencies from Diamond Back to Venice Beach and beyond, we’ve painstakingly selected the top players in the LA area to help point you in the right direction. We have deliberately chosen a range of companies in this review; from specialist mobile app development businesses to broad-line digital agencies that can help you position your new mobile app within a broader digital strategy.

So here’s the ones we like. They make our Top Mobile App Developers Los Angeles list in alphabetical order. We’ll be adding more to the list as we continue our research.

1. Citrusbits

best app developer San Francisco Citrusbits is an innovative mobile app development agency serving Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area and Eagle Rock. The company has a great website and video outlining their position in the market. With a strong focus on quality, Citrusbits is driven by passion, excellence, persistence and focus. The company’s website explains how Citrusbits like to ‘code differently’ and it’s clear they’ve worked with some top clients. Having developed 100+ apps for the likes of Quicksilver, Valet Tax and Assay Technologies. The company is run by Ammad Khan (Managing Consultant), Zack Afridi (Head of Marketing) and Arrione Garcia (Director of Operations).

You can follow Citrusbits on Twitter

2. Dreambox Creations

best mobile app developers San FranciscoIf you are looking for a full service digital agency that can integrate your mobile app with in a broader digital strategy then Dreambox Creations is worth a look. Located 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles in Diamond Bar, Dreambox Creations Dreambox Creations offers everything you would expect from a full service digital company, working closely with many of the most popular restaurants and eating facilities in the USA and further afield. Dreambox Creations work with some of the biggest names in the restaurant industry including In-n-Out Burger, San Diego University and Yard House. The key company players include Dan Bejmuk (CEO and Co-Founder), Adrian Cheung (Digital Media Strategist) and Danielle Takata (Owner).

You can follow the Dreambox Creations Team on Twitter

3. Innoppl

best mobile app developers San FranciscoInnoppl Inc is a market leading mobile & web application development firm based in LA. The company develops and deploys mobile apps designed to cater specifically to Los Angeles-based customers. Innoppl cover mobile apps for native iOS iPhone, Android, and mobile-web HTML5. The company also develops apps across numerous vital sectors including healthcare, automotive, retail, startups, education and much more. The company’s clients include the likes of Outside Television, Sherwin Williams and Mighty Auto Parts. The key company players are Nash Ogden (President), Pon Pandian Paulswamy (Technical Architect) and Kumaran Parthiban (Senior Technology Consultant).

You can follow the Innoppl team on Twitter

You can check out the Innoppl video below on “How to set a Mobile App budget for 2016’:

4. ISBX

best mobile app developers San FranciscoBased on Sepulveda Blvd, ISBX is an award winning mobile development agency with over a decade of experience. The company offer a wide array of digital marketing and mobile app technology services which includes creative branding, user experience, mobile and web development, platform testing as well as (and most importantly) helping app publishers launch and market their new applications.  They do this for some of the biggest global brands. ISBX work closely with clients to define their commercial goals and develop appropriate strategies to deploy enterprise class apps for clients. In 2014, ISBX presented at the Mobile World Congress (GSMA) in Barcelona, Spain and was recently acknowledged in publications including Inc 500 and the Los Angeles Business Journal. The key company players are Eric Wise (President founding partner at ISBX), Kelly Chu (Chief Technology Officer founding partner at ISBX) and Arthur Iinuma (Chief Operating Officer and founding partner). ISBX has worked with some seriously impressive clients including Nike Air Jordan, Warner Bros and Sony Pictures. If you’re looking for the Top App Developers LA these guys could be ones to watch.

You can follow the ISBX team on Twitter

5. Neon Roots

best mobile app developers San FranciscoNeon Roots are first and foremost a software development business that develops mobile apps as one of their core services.  The company focuses heavily on unlocking value in marketing and business development for their customers. Neon Roots goal is not to build the most elaborate, feature rich mobile app possible. Instead the company takes an alternative approach by focusing on developing apps that deliver against their clients commercial objectives. We like that, we like that a lot. Adopting a data driven, agile development approach to mobile app development, Neon Roots work with customers to test, refine, and validate at a conceptual level using real market/user data. The key company players are Ben Lee (CEO and Founder), Drew Harding (COO and Founder) and Kellan O’Connor (Venture Advisor). Neon Roots client roster includes the likes of American Idol, Epson and Snoopify.

You can follow the Neon Roots team on Twitter

I love LA

So now you’ve got a laser like insight into the top mobile app developers Los Angeles scene.

Doing mobile well is tough because there are a tonne of things you need to consider before you engage the right app development agency. You need to think about the requirements of your project, develop wireframes, API specs and user stories. You’ll also need to consider analytics, MBaaS, push notification platforms, app store optimization and a whole plethora of things before you get your project started. The great thing is, once you have a keen understanding of what your project KPI’s and success measures are, you’ll be ready to rock and hopefully one of the agencies listed above could be the perfect match for your project.

Stay tuned to the blog as we’ll be adding more mobile development companies in LA. If you’re an app developer from the Los Angeles area and you reckon you should be considered for our shortlist, or know of any who would, drop us a line!

20 questions to ask your client before you build their mobile app

20-questions-ask-client

So your business builds mobile apps for a range of business clients. That’s a great place to be right now. Lots of opportunities. Lots of potential projects coming your way. When we talk to busy mobile app development businesses they tell us one of their biggest challenges is getting the mobile app build project properly scoped. Too many times projects become too organic with new requirements emerging through the life of the project, sometimes too many ideas on what the app should do and they find it difficult to really define what success looks like.  What we’ve found is that if you can get good insight into the project by getting answers to these 20 questions right at the start of the project, its more likely to be a success, both for the client, and for the mobile app agency.

And, when the mobile app is developed and live in the app stores, you need to think about how the app is performing. Mobile App KPIs are so important and yet often they are not defined clearly.  To help, we’ve also pulled together the 10 questions you have to answer in order to track the right mobile app KPIs.

Firstly, it usually starts with your new client coming to you with a great idea for a mobile app that will help revolutionize their business and reach out to existing customers and a whole new set of customers. That’s awesome!

A project that starts off in the right direction has more chance of ending up in the right place, so here’s 20 questions you need answers to before you start that mobile app build.

Can you summarize the Mobile App to me in just a few sentences?

This isn’t to catch the customer out, it’s to really see how well they understand the “essence” of the app. The better they understand it, the more confident you can be that they will be very exact and focused about what the app needs to do, who its focused at, how they will use it etc.

Who are the target users?

What problem is your app going to solve for them? Why is a mobile app the best way to solve this? Could a mobile responsive website be just as good, or an even better way to solve the problem? What devices or platforms are they most likely to use, there are real demographic differences between android and iOS platforms that need to be thought through.

What’s the real deadline?

Is it linked to any other activity (a big product launch) or tied into a seasonal campaign? So its usually the case that the project should have started yesterday.  But at least you can work out what’s possible with the time you have. Work back through AppStore submission, multi-platform testing, development, and creative, ideation to set the expectation early on what’s practical and what’s not in the time you’ve been given.

What risks are there with the mobile app build?

What are the outside dependencies that could affect the timescales? Addressing this up front will save you a lot of problems further down the track. Building a risk register as part of the project kick-off and being disciplined to keep this up to date is a good idea, even for what seems to be a simple app product. Make sure that for each risk there are actions and owners responsible for managing down the risk of this affecting your successful app delivery.

What’s the budget?

So the game usually is, we don’t have a fixed idea of a budget, we want as much as we can get for as little as we need to pay. Mobile projects are really difficult to budget estimate, but for you to scope the project you need at least to work to a range. Defining the scope of work is also really important. It not just about the physical build. Is there budget for researching the app, competitors, key functions that users will highly value that will guide you on what the first release (or minimum viable product) NEEDS to have for the app to be market ready. If it’s a new client it could become a tricky game of poker, neither side wanting to show their hand, but unless you get to a range pretty quickly, expectation management is going to be tricky. If the client can’t give you a range, that could be a red flag, it may not be a serious project but just a vague idea they are trying to flesh out.

You should also agree what the ongoing budget is going to be once the app is live. There will probably be hosting costs, ongoing optimization of the app, on-boarding and in app use, discovery optimization, push notification services you should be offering – as well as managing scaling out back-end systems as app user grows.  Knowing how much ongoing work the app will require could also influence how much you charge in the initial build phase. You could decide to scale back costs on the initial build and get the app to market quicker, then work with the app owner to continually improve the app over time. They get an awesome app that’s just getting better and better. You build long term income streams for your business and long term relationships with your clients.

Who are the key Stakeholders?

Is this who you are working with, or are their others that you need to know about? Who is the budget holder? Who is the Project Owner? Your contact, or someone else. What are the decision making stages? Who need to be consulted at what stage to move from Ideation, to prototype, to build, to test, to release? Who are you going to work with post launch? Is there a formal process here (you should hope there is), or is this a more organic process, and if so its point 1 on your Risk Register, in big, bold, black ink capitals.

What does success look like at each stage of the process?

Building this into a number of smaller phases, with approval “gates” you need to go through may sound bureaucratic and feels like it could show you down, but it will, without doubt, save you time, money and a lot of anxiety through the mobile app build.

What are the business objectives for the mobile app?

Is the mobile app an internal app to increase workforce efficiency? Is it there to open the product or service up to a new profile of user? Will it increase sales from existing customers? All good, worthy reasons to build an app. Answers to this question will have a huge influence on how you build the app, what the core features and functions of the app, what platforms it needs to run on and what analytics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you need to track once the app goes live.

Who will the app compete with?

Has the client done a detailed evaluation of competitors in the space that you can work from? Don’t accept the response – “We don’t have any competitors here, we are the first to do this?” It’s a common response, but one that’s usually not true. There may be no direct competitors doing EXACTLY the same thing, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways that people are solving the problem that they have. This shouldn’t be an App to App comparison. So ask the question “how do the future users of your app currently solve this problem?” that way you’ll probably get a more insightful answer.

What design considerations/constraints does the Mobile App have to work within?

Are there corporate guidelines that the mobile app layout and screen designs need to conform to? Will this work on a mobile format? Are there constraints on how it can appear in the app store. Will this tell you how the icons in the app store need to look? Will this limit how the app will pop-out at someone browsing the store? What scope is there to push back on the branding police to get some design latitude to let you do an awesome job?

Is there scope to have multiple releases?

This is both in terms of what native platforms you need to build on as well as functionality. Is it possible to focus on a minimum viable product (MVP) as version 1 release,  with a feature roadmap?  Does it have to be big bang with all features on all platforms day 1.  This may be desired, but is it REALLY a necessity. Even if you need to go Big Bang, its still good to work with the client to define and agree what the minimum viable product (MVP) NEEDS to be. That will help focus discussions around the budget and timescales for launch.

What is the backlog of functions for the app?

Even if you’re not using an agile software development approach to building the app, getting your clients to build a backlog of (non MVP features) is a very powerful way to get them to prioritize between the essential functions of the app and those that are non-core for version 1 release. This has the other benefit of helping you plan future releases for the app, important for App Store discovery optimization (ASO) and managing your future project work (and cash flow).

What are the underlying assumptions?

Is it to work across tablets and mobiles? Can this be one version that resizes or do you need a build for both?  How back compatible does it have to be , iOS8 and later, Android 5.0? Android 4.0?. Does the app need to work offline? Will it have to connect with wearables or Internet of Things devices? What languages is the app going to be built in? The answers you get to “Who are the target use of the app?” will obviously have an influence here.

How is it going to be hosted?

Is there an existing infrastructure it needs to plug into? What are the security protocols? Are there any upstream micro-services that need (or would be good to) plug into the app? Is there going to be a website (mobile responsive of course) that will sit along-side the app and have to share user profile information etc.? Are there any other vendors that the app needs to integrate with (salesforce, SharePoint etc). How are you going to manage user generated content and what’s the expected upload/download shape of that content? Take the complexity away from building and managing the server side of your app with an industry leading mBaaS tool.

What are the data points that your client will need to get from the app?

Baking the measures, metrics and benchmark objectives into the mobile app at the design stage will help make sure that the mobile app build phase delivers against the key measures of success. If you don’t define the key metrics, that underpin the tangible measures of success for the app at outset, how will you focus the decision on MVP features? Also mapping out the analytics and metrics during the build will save the agony of trying to retro-fit these late in the day, or worse be duped into judging the success of the app based on what’s easy to measure, rather than what are actually the true measures of success.  Core to this should be measures of recency, frequency, duration & lifespan.

Clients want to know

  • How many downloads?
  • On what platforms?
  • Ratio of push notifications activated?
  • How many that download are actually fully installing?
  • How many active users you have (is this growing)?
  • What features are being used the most?
  • Where are the dead areas of the app that need re-thought?
  • How frequently is the app being used?
  • For how long (use session length)?
  • How many transactions (sales) have completed?

Mapping the actual against expected, looking at the variance then working a plan to close the gap between actual and plan is what it’s all about. As long as these are defined up front of course. You’ve got a huge role to play here, and a huge opportunity to generate on going monthly recurring revenue from the initial app project to help the owner of the app optimize and improve the commercial performance of the app.

What is the monetization strategy for the app?

If it’s a B2E app, solving internal problems for a business to improve staff productivity, then there is still a money angle and a Return on Investment business case. If it’s designed to increase revenue for the business, how is it going to do that? in app purchases?, subscription model?, will features be unlocked with staged payment?, is a physical or virtual product being delivered after payment (so do you need logistic tracking)?, will there be in app advertising to monetize traffic through the app? Knowing this and building the app around the business goal will keep the client focused. Agreeing the MVP and building the Backlog of features acid testing each feature and function against the business goal will mean you’re focused on doing the important things in priority order.

How will they buy?

Different from monetization. How do they physically pay for the product or service within the app, credit card, biometric payment (ApplePay and the like). Depending on the answer, you need to be thinking about security/encryption and device compatibility the app must work on.  So testing regimes, influence that Native vs Hybrid decision, security & data encryption etc.

Are there other apps that the client likes that can be used as inspiration for how this new app should look?

This isn’t about copying or plagiarizing someone else’s design, this is about using completely unrelated apps to help get you into the head of your client and understand how they are thinking. It’s easier if your following an already predefined UI/UX design and corporate guidelines, but it’s still important to do this, if only to help you decide how essential it is to build a native app so it accesses all the rich handset functionality.

How is the app going to be found when it’s ready to go live?

If it’s a B2E app, this may not be that important, but for B2B and B2C apps getting found in GooglePlay and the AppStore is going to be important to draw users to the app. Don’t think this is an afterthought. Its not. You have to think of this at the design and development stage. Make sure it conforms to design guidelines of each store it’s listing in, if it doesn’t follow the rules its going to be tricky to get it listed. You’ll also need a good app store optimization tool to ensure you’re targeting the right keywords. Carefully think about future releases, as this has a huge influence on discovery. An App that’s continually being developed will rank better in the store. Also make the icon impactful so it communicates the value and purpose of the app is really important. And don’t discount video. Including a short video demonstration of your app will have a huge impact on driving download conversions from your app store listing page.

What about post launch? What’s the ongoing plan to learn & improve?

There needs to be one, right?

No matter how awesome you are as a mobile app development agency you’re just not going to get everything right first time. You’re also probably not going to be able to deliver all the features your client wants, within the budget they have to spend and the timescale you’re presented with. The clients going to be very very focused on the first delivery point, getting the mobile app live. That’s natural. But your job is to coach them to think longer term. Get them to think about the MVP, and getting them to build the backlog creates the mind-set that this is an ongoing project. The first phase is version 1. This means you get them thinking early about the ongoing phases of releases as well as the promotion of the app.

Making sure that there is good data coming from the app is also critical. In addition to crash reporting & diagnostics, using data & analytics to know how the app is performing particularly focusing on recency, frequency, duration and lifespan. Getting your client to predict up front what is the expected “Norm” and tracking variance from that will help your and your client prioritize the remedial work that will be needed to get the app downloaded, used, and reused frequently.

Bonus Question – Question 21

So lastly, and consider this as a bonus question, given we are through the 20 questions promised in the title.

What dependencies are there, that we need to consider before we can get started with your new app?

Its good if you can get the client to clearly tell you what needs to happen before they sign the work order and kick the project off. Do you need to run an ideation workshop (to make sure an app is actually what they need)? Does a purchase order need to be signed off by the budget-holder? Are you both covered by a Confidentiality & Non-Disclosure agreement? In short, what are the barriers to starting this project in the next hour?

20 Questions to Ask your Clients to make your app project a success

Of course, no set of questions will be the same for every project and every client and every mobile app use case. Hopefully this gives you good coverage of the main points. If you would like a handy reference guide, why not download the Guide with 20 questions you need answers to – before you build your client’s mobile app.  Asking the questions, documenting the answers and playing these back to the client in the format of “You Told Us This… so we will therefore do that” will make sure you are both on the same page. Better this than stumbling in to bear-pits through the project.

There’s also another free, confidential mobile app project scoping tool that you could benchmark your customer app project against.

What about your questions?

OK, so we’ve given you a bunch of questions to ask your client, but what about when you have questions about your mobile app business? No worries – we’re here to help. That’s why we’ve started a FREE business webinar series that addresses many of the questions that app development agencies have in mind.

The webinars are intended for Business Owners, CEO’s, Sales & Marketing VP’s and Commercially minded CTO’s. They’re 100% business focused, so they’ll give you ideas on how to drive more retainer based income for your Mobile App Development Business.

Feel free to look at some of our past webinars, or take a gander at some of our upcoming sessions. These webinars are popular and seats are limited, so be sure to register early. Or, just contact us and we’ll be happy to answer your mobile app development questions.

About Kumulos

The Kumulos platform started life as a hosting and API management system to help build and manage the server side of the mobile app. It’s now evolved into the most comprehensive mobile app management platform for mobile app agencies with Push Notifications, App Store Optimization, App Analytics, Crash Reporting & API Endpoint Monitoring, Document sharing & Collaboration and Content Editing all in one place. Why not take a look at who uses Kumulos?

But that’s not all. It comes with a number of unique, turn-key features, custom built to help busy mobile app agencies offer services to their client. Services that help keep the dialogue flowing, so they stay close and win regular follow up client work. And the best bit, services that the agency charges monthly for, so they get more app projects on monthly retainer, once the app goes live.

We don’t care whether you’re building native apps on iOS and Android, or using your preferred hybrid platform, or a low-code / no-code platform, you can use Kumulos to help you deliver greater commercial success. We partner with a range of technology providers so you can have it your way.

Ask for a demo, or sign up for a 30-day free trial today!