5 Questions to Ask Before Building a Mobile App

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 18, 2017

Thinking about Building a Mobile App? Ask yourself these questions first.

There has been a massive surge in mobile app usage recently with a worldwide total of over a 100 billion app downloads in 2016 and almost 270 billion app downloads expected in 2017. This and the fact that there have been many cases of successfully bootstrapped mobile app development companies has led to a rise in companies that are developing mobile apps.

Everyone is trying to get in on the action but only a few will succeed. Just having a good app idea doesn’t really cut it as there are too many things to consider when you’re thinking about launching an app. Before you start working on your mobile app idea, it is imperative to ask yourself the following questions.

Who is my app for?

Every successful mobile app out there either solves a problem or provides a service. Before you can figure out what people want, you would have to figure out who those people are. Not every app has the hope of going viral and being used by everyone on the planet, most apps are only used by a core group of users that benefit directly from what the app is offering. There is a much better chance of being successful if you target a niche audience because there will be less competition and more opportunities.

To figure out your target audience, you can start by looking at your competition. Whatever your basic app idea is, there is bound to be a similar app on one of the many app stores out there. You can get a good idea of their user base by visiting the app’s social media pages, reading the feedback, and looking at the commenter’s profiles. This will give you a grasp on where to start. To refine your target audience even further, you can hold sessions with focus groups to discuss your idea and get their feedback on it directly. 

Once you know who you’re selling to, it will become much easier to refine your idea and start shaping it into something that your target audience would actually benefit from.

What are my competitors doing?

There are not many unique app ideas anymore so you're bound to find someone out there doing something similar. It’s a good idea to study their app, marketing strategies, and overall market presence to get find out what you’ll be up against. This will also help you find out any mistakes they’ve made or challenges they faced so you can prepare yourself for the same.

If you are planning to give your target users something different, a good understanding of the existing options will help you come up with a different option that is not in the market already. Seeing a similar app flow will also help your designers and developers to understand what you’re going for.

What problems does my app solve?

Rather than focusing on the features of your app, you should focus on the benefits it provides. What really sells an app is the problems that it’s solving or the benefits it is providing to your users. Instead of making a list of features, make a list of benefits and see if you can add to that list. Even when it comes to marketing, a list of actual benefits is much more attractive to a user as they’ll be able to see exactly what they’ll get from an app. A list of features is very important but general users would rather know how an app would help them rather than what it does.

Having this information will also help you refine your app flow and features by giving you a benchmark as to what the app is meant to achieve.

How will I develop the app?

This is the question that really needs to be answered before you can start any actual work on your app design or development. To be able to budget and schedule your app life cycle, you would need to sit down with your designers and developers to figure out the exact scope of the app you are looking to develop. This will give you a few important numbers that are very useful at this stage. You’ll find out the exact work and hours required to complete at least a beta of the app. These will help you schedule your release and other activities related to launching an app. This will also give you an idea of the number of resources that are going to be used for the work and how much they’re going to cost.

What platforms will I target?

While iOS and Android apps lead the charge when it comes to download numbers and app purchases, a number of apps are better off on Blackberry or Windows depending on the target user. This is why it is so important to carefully choose the platform you are developing for. If you have the budget, you could go for a cross-platform app but if you are to start with just one platform you have to make sure your target audience uses that platform. You would also need to find out any requirements that exist for publishing on that platform.

Once you know what platform you are targeting your app towards, it would also make it easier for you to prepare your marketing plan according to that platform. Every platform offers its own range of ad and marketing services and knowing what you’re going for would help you create marketing material that is in line with the requirements of your chosen platform.

 

Whether you’re self-investing or looking for venture funding, you will need to have a proper budget and planned schedule to show people before they will invest anything in your idea. Having the right information at this point will make sure that everything can be planned and there is a minimum amount of bumps down the road.

 

Photo credit: baranq/Shutterstock

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