Tag: App Development

Five Steps for Building a Successful Mobile App

image of phone - twitter

Mobile apps are so ubiquitous nowadays that almost all companies can think of at least one way in which an app could enhance their business. On top of this, an increasingly large number of hugely successful companies have an app at their very heart – just think of Uber, Shazam and Flipboard if you need a few examples.

Whether you want to build an app to provide a better service to your customers, or build a whole new company around an app in the hope of becoming the next big thing, it’s important to consider certain things before you get started.

This article lists five steps for building a successful mobile app – don’t begin your app development  without reading them!

1. Gain a clear idea of what you’re aiming for

This may sound really obvious, but it’s extremely common to hear of companies wanting an app (after all, “everyone else has got one”) without really having a clear idea of what it’s going to do. These unfocused people can land themselves in a whole range of undesirable situations; Unfocused thinking leads to an unfocused app – and modern technology users are a demanding bunch with a short attention span.

If you don’t have clear ideas, you are at risk of being provided with ideas by app developers who are often only trying to help. While it’s essential to work in partnership with your developers, it’s crucial to start out with a spec for what’s actually needed. The people who best know what your app needs to do are people within the business and, if the company is already in operation, the customers.

2. Be prepared to treat your app as an ongoing project or business

A HUGE misconception about apps is that they are a “job and finish” task. If this were remotely true, we’d never see software updates, and apps would all look the same as they did five years ago!

Even if you don’t think the core of your app will change much, there’s absolutely no way that you won’t have to treat your app almost as a living being.

Technology will move on, customers will demand new features, and sometimes something as simple as an operating system upgrade will require some coding for compatibility. So don’t think of an app as something that’s done once it’s built. This is merely the first step in the journey. This is even more relevant if the app is at the core of your business!

3. Keep an open mind on pricing

There’s no doubt that you’ll be able to find individuals who will build you an app “on the cheap,” such as students who’ve just learned objective C, or inexpensive off-shore freelancers.

image of moneyUnless you’re happy to manage them extremely closely and shoulder some risk, think really carefully about taking this route and allowing a “race to the bottom” in terms of price. As per the previous tip, creating your app is not a one-off job if you want to take it seriously, and plenty of people come unstuck when they end up with an app that’s unsupportable because nobody really understands how it was put together in the first place. This was (and remains) the case with website and database projects too.

What you should pay for an app is a quintessential “how long’s a piece of string?” question. The answer is probably a little more than you’d hoped, but not as much as you’d feared! According to the folks at Dogtown Media, app development can run anywhere from $25,000 up to $500, 000 (and beyond).  Finally, remember that you need to account for the ongoing development and support for your app, and not focus on a one-off headline price.

4. Get a prototype ready

Nothing puts the nails in the coffin of an app more than launching it without proper testing. Consumers can be savage when an app doesn’t provide instant gratification and will show no mercy in uninstalling and leaving a negative review – which (of course) will put off future customers.

For this reason, it’s essential to create a prototype and test it to within an inch of its life, perhaps with a select group of beta testers, before letting it anywhere near the public. Bear in mind too that, as discussed above, your first app release will be a 1.0 version!

This is widely known as a “Minimum Viable Product.” Within days (if not hours) of releasing this, you’ll probably start to think of new features that should be incorporated into version 1.1 and beyond!

5. Launch only when ready!

space shuttle launchingIt’s really unwise to set a date to release your app and stick to it regardless of what happens. Do you want an app released on time to widespread negative reviews, or an app released several weeks late to widespread acclaim? Hopefully the answer is obvious.

Once you have launched, you’ll want to see how your app is performing – obviously the reviews will give you a broad picture, but you can go way beyond this by using mobile analytics to find out exactly how customers are using your app. Analytics will help you find which features are working and which your users are engaging with. From there you can go back, refine, improve, and move towards the next version – just as we discussed above.

What do you think? Any steps we left out for building a successful mobile app? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

$2.1 Trillion will be spent on IT in 2013 according to Forrester

2013-it-spending

The numbers are in folks, and IT looks like it’s only set to grow this year. Forrester just released their latest estimations of spend on IT, and the overall breakdown is that we are looking at around $2.1 Trillion spent by organisations around the world and that mobile apps are getting the heaviest investment.  The U.S. will also be the country leading the charge in investment in IT.  Gartner also recently released figures for the same subject but they had a much more optimistic view, pointing towards the higher figure of $3.7 Trillion.

The U.S. is looking stronger now currency wise and this is having a knock on effect on its position in the spending chart, with the stronger US dollar allowing them more financial muscle globally. The continuing recession in the EU and China’s now inevitable economic growth slow down are also aiding this current strength in the IT market.

Overall, the two main trends to be taken away from this are as follows:

Software is big

Out of that estimated $2.1 Trillion, software makes up a sizeable chunk, equating to something along the lines of $542 billion. “Software is where most of the big changes in technology are taking place,” writes Bartels, one of the writers involved in the report. This is something of a two part evolution. SaaS (software as a service) is becoming the new model for many major software developers, for example Adobe’s new Creative Cloud subscription service that has replaced their one time purchase model. The second part is mobile apps. Out of the entire spending on IT, apps are seeing a massive investment of over $230 billion alone. This, of course, bodes well for app developers out there.

Apple and tablets are where hardware is going

As we recently reported, the PC market is shrinking fast, and even though it’s still currently the biggest market in IT hardware, it’s fading out. If you’re looking for growth, of course you should look to Apple and tablets, with the iPad being the most significant merger between the two. Apple will be taking $14 billion more this year than last from the iPad and tablet market, whilst the tablet market itself will grow by a very noticable 36% or $21 billion.

So if you’re investing in IT, the way to go is Apple, tablets, SaaS and apps. If you’re already an app developer, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re on the right track. And as service providers, at Kumulos we’re pleased to provide you with a Mobile Backend as a Service that is designed to help your apps and you stay ahead of the curve and to get you a slice of that big IT investment pie.

So why not talk to us today?

The psychology of “have to” versus “want to” in apps

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If the recent heatwaves across much of the world didn’t twig you to it, summer is definitely here. And with it and the sunny weather comes the usual impetus to get off our chairs where we’ve spent the winter making the perfect print of our backside and lose some weight; mostly so we can go outside in summer clothes without feeling grossly inadequate. But how to go about it? So of us will undoubtedly go to the gym, some will take up exercise classes, and some of us will re-open that weight loss and training app that we used a couple of times during winter then just spent the rest of the time guiltily swiping away notifications about how we’ve not used it in ages.

Why did we let that app fall by the wayside?

Well a recent study by French researchers has pointed towards an answer that really, we shouldn’t be surprised about. It all comes down to choice and free will.

If you’re given the option between playing that new game you just bought, or doing the dishes because, well, they really need done and you’re sure you saw something moving in the pile yesterday. What will you choose? Most likely the game; after all, the game isn’t demanding that you play it, just giving you the option. And therein lies the crunch; if we feel we have to do something, we automatically resent it.

It’s called “reactance”, and it’s essentially our inbuilt defense mechanism when it comes to things encroaching on our free will. Another way to look at it is it’s the stubborn toddler inside us all still folding its arms, pouting and saying “No!” every time we’re asked to do something. This is why many of these apps that work around the notion of keeping a daily record of things like sleep cycles or calories eaten or exercise done tend to gain a lot of users at first and then those same users drop out of the loop just as fast. The app becomes a chore and they abandon it for Angry Birds because Angry Birds isn’t nagging you like an irritating partner; instead it’s that attractive stranger you occasionally exchange smiles with at your local coffee shop. Available, but not pushing, giving you the choice.

But the easiest way to disarm reactance? Just tack on “but it’s entirely up to you.” or something similar on to that. By telling someone that it’s up to them whether they comply with you or not flicks that stubborn switch off and makes them more likely to acquiesce. In the aforementioned study, researchers approached people in the street and asked them if they had any coins to spare so they could get a bus. They then tested which approach got more results, the one where they just asked, or the one where they asked and added that the other person was entirely free to decide whether they would. Across 22,000 tests, the results were clear, reminding people of their free will meant they were more likely to give the researchers money.

So remember, if you’re designing an app, try to subtly include hints that the user is entirely free to use or leave the app. A feature like push notifications is great – as long as its used in the right manner. It seems counter intuitive, but the numbers don’t lie and the last thing you want is for your app to be seen as a chore. As soon as you flick that reactance switch, people will start to pull away. As an app developer, you’ve got enough on your plate designing your app without worrying about things like a Mobile Backend either.

At Kumulos we’ve got a Mobile Backend as a Service built from the ground up to give you the Mobile Backend you need for your app. So why not get in touch today? Of course, it’s entirely up to you whether you do or not.

Top 5 App Marketing Tips

top 5 app marketing tips

Once upon a time, in the distant past (let’s say about 10 years ago) clients came to your company with an idea for an app. You developed the app, submitted it to the app store and that was the end of that.

Nowadays things are a little different. Clients aren’t just looking for one-off app development – they want an app development company to stay with them through the lifecycle of an app. They need help with developing a MVP, bug fixes and feature updates, app store submission and, yes, even marketing.

Gulp. Marketing? “But we’re just an app development agency! We don’t do that kind of stuff!” 

Of course you don’t – that’s why your client is taking their app to another agency to help market their app after you’ve done all the hard work. Why let that happen? As they say, marketing is part art and part science. As an app development company, you’ve got the science part down – you just need a little help getting arty.

Bearing that in mind, here’s our five top tips to help you get into the game and market your client’s app.

1. Understand the Competition

Have you ever gone looking for an app and found ten who do the exact same thing, with little to no difference between them? This is a classic example of the developers not paying attention to the market they’re developing for and one you want to avoid. When making your client’s app, scout out the marketplace(s) that you plan to sell it on. What other apps are out there? Are they doing the same thing as the app you’re developing? If so, what sets this app apart from them?

If your client’s app seems to have found a niche that’s yet to be filled, fantastic! At the same time though, have a think to yourself about why it’s an unfilled niche. Is this app actually useful on a day-to-day basis? If you were browsing through the app store, would you look for that niche? Why? These are the kinds of questions that it’s very important to ask both yourself and your client during development because it means that, on release, the app will be much better targeted, with clear goals about why it’s there and what it’s there to accomplish.

2.  Planning is Key

As soon as you have the groundwork set for an app, it’s time to start planning and putting into action your marketing strategy.  Use things like teasers, videos showing your vision for the finished product and open betas to generate initial hype and then keep releasing new updates as the app progresses to keep the interest pointed at you. Send out releases to the press and prominent blog sites, encouraging them to check the app out and to mention it in upcoming articles and blogs. All of this will create traction for your product, and start to create buzz around your studio and the app.

3.  App Store Optimization

You could have just developed the best app in the world, but it’s not going to matter if nobody can find it in the app stores. That’s where App Store Optimization (ASO) comes in. Of course, customers are only going to be able to find the app in the app store AFTER the app makes it past the app submission process and actually makes it to the store listings. Then there’s the aesthetics of your app. Is it unique? Does it look professional? Apple, in particular, is constantly updating their app store guidelines and clearing out what they see as apps that don’t hold up to their standards.

Ensure that any app you submit to the app store has a meaningful description, keywords, app title and subtitle. App store screenshots are important, as well as a slick and professional looking app icon. Also, if you’re selling on the Apple App store, bear in mind that they won’t actually feature an app who’s icon isn’t in keeping with their aesthetics; you have been warned. App store videos are becoming more and more of the norm to see in app stores (especially with Google Play), so be sure to include some exciting (ok, it might be hard to make an accounting app video look amazing, but you get our drift) screen captures of the app in action. You can then upload these videos to video sharing sites like YouTube and link back to you or your client’s web site for a little extra SEO juice.

App Store Search was launched in 2016 and is another fantasic way to get apps out there in front of the public. As of this writing, Apple is offering a $100 credit towards ad placement. That’s pretty much a free invitation to at least give ad placement for an app a shot and see how it goes.

Once you’ve got the app listed and in the app stores, use an ASO tool to track the app performance over time and make an adjustments as necessary. A good ASO tool should give you the option to export these ASO statistics to a report, which you can then provide to your client as a proof of your value.

4.  Use Social Media & Testimonials

It’s no secret that social media is a veritable powerhouse when it comes to hype and product popularity, and yours to control, if you know how. Set up a Facebook page for the app, along with Twitter accounts, and start talking on them. Use these sites to keep those who are interested in the app up-to-date with what’s going on in its development and make it easy for them to share and re-tweet your updates with their friends. Link to influential websites and blogs that you like and ask them to link you back to get more traffic landing on your homepage.

Start a blog on your home website and update it regularly with well written, interesting content that will make people want to blog about you in turn. This also helps greatly with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Once the app has reached a near-finished stage, consider sending out free press demos to encourage them to post pre-launch reviews.

And remember, once you’ve launched, get quotes from satisfied customers. Nothing says “worth my money” more to a customer than a range of quotes from people telling them just that!

5.  Evaluate Feedback and Keep Moving

This last point is one to put on a post-it note to stick to your work monitor. A mistake many new companies make with marketing is assume that, once they’ve generated buzz and their app has launched, they cut down on their marketing because, hey, it’s launched now, what’s the worry? This mindset is what will cause the app to flop soon after it leaves the launch gates because no matter how much buzz you generate, news in this day and age is so quick moving that unless you remind it regularly, the world generally forgets you and your business are even there. An app post launch plan is important. You want to look at what’s working and what isn’t, filter out the bad, and keep pushing forward.

To reiterate, once you’ve set the marketing train in motion, and it starts to show some real returns, don’t stop! The only thing you should change are the tactics that you use. Instead of trying to generate lots and lots of hype through press releases and reviews, previews and paid for advertising, start to focus on pushing organic, slower growing marketing. Design it to keep the app, and more importantly your business, in the zeitgeist, so when people are looking for an app in your area, they come to you first.

No matter whether you’re a large studio of fifty or a hundred employees, or a two man dev team; remember that marketing can take a new app from obscurity to real profit. Be smart, be savvy and above all, never let people forget you’re there!