There’s a tech marketplace that is ever-growing, ever-changing and constantly hungry for new content: the mobile app marketplace.
There are more than 2.5 billion smartphone users in the world, and the number continues to grow every year. Launched successfully, an app has access to millions of potential users —depending on the target audience, of course. However, the process of launching an app and driving it toward success isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Around 35 percent of mobile app engagements last for a minute or less. You don’t have long to grab the user’s attention. Investing time and money into developing an app is a major undertaking. The last thing you want is to put in all that time, only to discover your app isn’t performing up to expectations. Luckily for you, there are some key things you can do that will keep your app from failing.
1. Do Your Market Research
More than likely, you came up with an idea for an app that solves some sort of problem for the user. However, you should also take time to figure out if the app is necessary. Are other apps out there in this category? What makes yours better? How many people are using those other apps? Are you filling an unmet need?
This type of data will allow you to see how popular your app could possibly be, and if it is worth the investment or not. You also might see the competition is failing to properly promote or update their app, and go forward armed with the knowledge of how to make your app better and more easily accessible.
2. Choose an Interface
Android and iOS are very different operating systems. If you want your app to work smoothly on both, you need to vary your development approaches. It’s also OK to focus on one platform and perfect your app for that platform before moving on to the other. It’s better to delay launch on a platform than to launch too soon and force your users to deal with bugs and crashes.
3. Be Aware of Memory Issues
Be a good citizen of the mobile-sphere. How much memory does it take to run your app, and how can you reduce that usage? Some things you can work on that will reduce your memory usage include reducing the archived information, working in iOS — where you can use Objective-C to deal with memory issues — and using fewer big images or bitmaps.
4. Take Time to Test Your App
Users expect the apps they download to function and to load quickly. Sixty-one percent of mobile users expect their app to start in under four seconds. If the app doesn’t load quickly, freezes or has other errors, most people will uninstall the app. Put time into testing your app on multiple devices. Benchmark your app against industry standards, as well, since testing won’t always pull up the same issue a user might run into.
5. Network Connectivity
You can’t control everything in the user’s world. Many mobile service plans run into snags as the person travels from one location to another, or their phone switches between 3G and LTE, for example. Network lags can cause your app to freeze and not send data. The user may be more inclined to blame your app than the network. One way you can overcome this is by providing a message when connectivity is weak, and let the user know it is their connection, rather than the app.
6. Keep Coding Simple
It’s tempting to show off your coding skills and create a feature-rich app that does everything imaginable. The problem is that complex coding allows more opportunities for bugs. If you want to prevent users’ phones from crashing while using your app, keep things as simple as you can. Look over the code with a fine-toothed comb. What can you remove or simplify?
7. Engaging Users
The average mobile user engages with an app about three days and then abandons it. If you want to keep users engaged with your app, you must think through what features would make their daily lives easier or more entertaining. The launch of your app isn’t something you do once and then forget. As new users come on board, you need to continuously re-launch updated versions of your app to capture them and keep them long-term.
8. Choosing the Right Monetization
The top apps have one thing in common — they are all free to use. While you have every right to earn money on something you put time, effort and funds into developing, you need to carefully think through the best ways to monetize that app, and if those methods will drive users away. You’ll have more success getting people to try your app if you offer at least some complimentary features.
9. Technical Issues
Anything that slows down your app or causes crashes can lead to failure — including server problems, third-party software or coding issues. You need to consider every aspect of your app and how it affects users. How much battery does it use when running in the background? If you continuously strive for the best performance possible, your app will be much more likely to become successful and stay successful. Assume usage could spike at times, and allow for more cloud storage or a faster server to account for that.
Each of the elements listed above has several different factors you need to consider to prevent your app from failing. Creating a successful app is about far more than launching something and making it available to download. You have to apply all these principles and more if you want people to not only download your app, but engage with it on a regular basis. A project you are passionate enough about to put the time and effort into deserves the chance to be successful.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dog, Bear.