A while back we got really interested in what makes one mobile app success and other mobile projects flop. This got us thinking. Sure the idea could be the thing, but we’ve all seen apps ideas that should have been a run away viral success but just didn’t catch on. This led us to think that it had to be more than the idea (and the market fit for the idea), there had to be other things, things that the app developer/app owner can do to increase the chances of success. So we locked a couple of our smartest developer brains away in our “idea-incubator” and they built Karma.
From the hundreds of app projects that have been put through the Karma check and balance tool, its clear there are a lot of app development businesses and app owners that are missing a trick or two. Some simple things, thought about up front, that could make a huge difference to ensuring the ultimate success of the app.
So what does Karma tell us about overall trends and the areas that look most out of balance.
1. Think, Think, Do… could be a better approach
It looks like more time could be spent defining the purpose and the clear business benefit of the app, right at the start of the project. It seems that many projects should spend more time mapping out the strategy, clear objectives and measures of success of the app before the project kicks off. Its tempting to get on and build something, but its often the first steps that define the ultimate outcome being a success or not. So spending just a little more time at the start, working closely with key stake holder on what its critical for the app to do well, could give a much much better outcome at the end.
For example, a clear understanding of the critical functions and purpose of the app will help define the minimum viable product (MVP). Focusing on delivering a MVP App 1.0 not only gets your app in use faster it also ensures that your app offers the most value for the least development effort. It also gives the app a good start point to learn, adapt and evolve what it does. Nothing better than real users to teach you what’s good and what could be done better.
2. Data Driven Development is unusual
Data at the heart of development doesn’t seem to be as important as it should be. We see less time spent at the design phase mapping out analytics metrics and even less time post launch interpreting and building insights from actual users during on-boarding and in app behaviour. This means some are missing a trick here. Baking the measures, metrics and benchmark objectives into development of the app at the design stage and making sure the build phase delivers these is a key measure of success. Also ensuring that effort is focused in post launch follow on activities to drive results against those metrics is equally key. The concept is simple, if you don’t set out the clear tangible objectives and measures of success for the app at outset then how can you be sure your on a successful track.
One example could be cadence of the app – how frequently the app is being accessed and used. Its going to be different for different types of apps, of course. But knowing at outset how often your most engaged app users will be in and using your app is important. Making sure that the app is built with the optimum cadence in mind and then setting success metrics on monthly, daily, hourly use of the app, makes sure you have a closed loop view of how well the app is performing. If you don’t get the user cadence you expect when you go live, you’ll have an early flag that remedial work in the app is needed to get users more highly engaged.
3. Iterate and learn… and improve
Third, and the biggest surprise was time spent post launch. Its almost like “job done” once the app is born. But in reality that’s just when the hard work begins. We see huge variations in the amount of time different app projects dedicate efforts to grow adoption and engagement within the app. It could be that most just don’t see that as their remit. It could be, if you are an app development business building apps for other businesses, that you are leaving a huge amount of money on the table. Recurring monthly income that could provide a highly stable income stream to smooth out lumpy project revenue. When we speak to app owners we hear time and time again that they look to their app development partners for help not just in the build, but in the full life-cycle of the app.
Also if you are an app owner working with an App Development team you need to make sure those working on your app have the right shape and balance to the project, after-all you carry the can if things go wrong.
We are not saying that just get these three areas right and you’re guaranteed to have a roaring success on your hands. What we do see is that paying more attention to these areas will reduce the risk of failure. That’s got to be a good thing, surely.
What is Karma?
Karma is free not-for-profit venture that’s completely confidential and anonymous. Using it could mean better apps, so what’s not to like. Check it out here https://karma.kumulos.com/
All the data in Karma is completely anonymous by design, so those completing it can be confident to input the information openly.
Karma measures the 19 most important elements of a mobile app build. Grouping these under 5 main headings that broadly follow a typical app life-cycle; Design, Build, Test, Release, Optimise, looking at the amount of time each project spend on each phase. It then maps these against the 4 most important areas that drive app success; Strategy, Risk Management, Deliverables, and Billables.
Karma takes these 19 data points and 9 measures, plots the effort in days of each project against all the other project entries, showing how the shape and balance of this particular project compares. For the individual project it shows where focus may be heavy (spending too much time or too many dollars perhaps) or where focus could be too light, skipping over important areas, things that could threatening the success of the project. Of course, no two app projects are exactly the same, but mapping the shape and balance against “the norm” and understanding why there should be variance, provides real insight into where effort and money is being spent.
Project Karma can be found here https://karma.kumulos.com/