Have you ever found yourself thinking “I have a great idea for a mobile app”? Yep, me too!
In our connected world, we’ve come to rely heavily on our smartphones and the countless apps available with just a few taps of the screen. These apps help us get around, shop, stay connected, and so much more. Better still, useful new apps are developed and launched every day. One of these apps could be yours!
What makes me so sure? Personal experience. That’s right, several years ago I launched my own mobile app. While my passion for helping businesses undergo digital transformations and grow brought me back to consulting, I learned a lot from that experience and have since helped several clients launch their own mobile apps.
If you have an idea for a mobile app but find yourself wondering how to get started, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll share the basic steps to successfully launch your mobile app.
1. Research, Research, Research
Before you get too far down the rabbit hole dreaming up innovative features your app will offer, it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture. Ultimately, your mobile app–like any other product–will fit into a larger marketplace. Therefore, it’s important to treat it like any other product or business launch and do your research.
Before diving into mobile app development, find the answers to some basic questions:
- How will my mobile app offer value to users? In other words, what problem will it solve for users?
- Who will use my app and how big is this market? To answer this, look at demographics and lifestyle factors: age, gender, income, location, interests, technology preferences, etc.
- Are there any other apps out there that offer the same or similar features?
- How will my mobile app be different?
- How much (ballpark) will it cost to develop my mobile app?
- How will I monetize my app?
- How will I market my app?
- How will I continue to develop, improve, or grow my app in the future?
Use customer discovery to validate the information you gather to answer these questions. Surveys, focus groups, and other consumer engagement tools enable you to validate your app hypothesis. Since it’s much easier to change your idea before you’ve started development, it’s best to talk to as many potential customers as possible at this point.
With your validated answers in hand, you should be able to work through a SWOT analysis, determine if your app is viable, and create a basic business plan. At this stage, it’s helpful to keep the big picture in mind by undertaking the app development process the way you would undertake any other IT project, starting by proving the business case.
2. Define Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Once you’ve conducted some thorough research and determined that your idea could become a viable business, it’s time to define your MVP, or minimum viable product. MVP is a development philosophy that focuses on developing the no-frills core features of your app. By focusing only on core functionality, you’ll speed up your time to market, allowing you to test whether your app solves your target users’ problem (product-market fit). As you collect user feedback, you can refine your app’s features and build new ones that cater to different user groups.
Household brands like Facebook, Twitter, and Zappos have used the MVP methodology to create, launch, and grow successful solutions.
Before you launch your product, you’ll need to consider how you want your app to be perceived by users. Known as branding, this process allows you to define and create a strong positive perception of your app. To accomplish this, you’ll need to create a brand promise and consistently communicate that promise using visual and assets and messaging.
Branding encompasses everything from your logo (or app icon) to the way you interact with your users and audience. It’s important to invest in developing these aspects of your business to ensure that you can communicate with your users effectively, building a positive perception of your app.
4. Create Wireframes
With a defined brand in hand, it’s time to create wireframes of your app. Basically, wireframes are mockups of your app without any functionality. These mockups allow you to decide how your app will look and define the user experience and flow. In my experience, the most successful approach to wireframe creation is both collaborative and iterative. By working closely with UI/UX designers, developers, and other key stakeholders, you’ll be able to leverage everyone’s area of expertise and unique perspective to create user-friendly designs and user flows, refining them with each iteration.
5. Develop Your Mobile App
Now that you’ve laid all the groundwork for a successful launch, it’s time to develop your mobile app. Here, it’s time to put your product manager hat on, striking the perfect balance between understanding user needs, leveraging your technical know-how, and using your sharp business acumen. Whether you’re building the mobile app yourself or using contract developers, it’s important to stay clear on the big picture and manage the development process with your users and MVP in mind.
6. Test Your Mobile App
Though you might be eager to launch your mobile app once it’s ready, it’s essential to test it thoroughly. Ask friends, family, and colleagues to spend a few days testing it and to report any bugs. Fix any bugs they identify before your official launch. By doing this, you’ll ensure your early users have a positive experience with your app, compelling them to leave positive reviews on their preferred app marketplace. Especially in the early days after a new mobile app is launched, users rely on these reviews to evaluate whether the app is worth trying.
7. Ready, Set, LAUNCH!
Once you’ve worked out any bugs and you’re confident that you have a mobile app that will meet your users’ expectations, it’s time to launch! But before you hit that publish button, brace yourself because this is just the beginning of an exciting new journey.
What comes next? Marketing, app updates, bug fixes, monetization, and so much more!
8. Get the Word Out with Strong Marketing
With over 2.9 million apps available in the Google Play Store and a mind-blowing 4.75 million available in the Apple App Store, you can imagine that it can be tricky to cut through the noise. That’s why you’ll need to support your app launch with strong marketing. To do this successfully, plan to:
- Have consistent messaging highlighting your app’s unique value proposition,
- Invest in reaching your users where they spend their time, and
- Spend a bit of money to create the right marketing assets and to promote them through the right channels.
9. Keep Your Mobile App Fresh with Additional Features & Enhancements
With so many options available to them, today’s app users are discerning. To retain users and grow your user base over time, you’ll need to move beyond your MVP. Plan to roll out new features and enhance the user experience regularly. Of course, you’ll need to continue to support these updates with strong marketing, too.
Ready to turn your mobile app idea into a reality but feeling overwhelmed by the process? We’re here to help. With experience launching mobile apps and a team of developers, designers, and other important project resources, we can help you turn your idea into a successful mobile app. Let’s talk!
About the Author
Ashiq Ahamed is the Founder & Managing Partner of SolvedAF Consulting Inc., a boutique consulting firm providing IT consulting, growth advisory, and digital transformation services. As a strategic, delivery-focused leader, he works with organizations to change their thinking when it comes to technology, implementing solutions that achieve organizational efficiencies and improve the end user experience.
Known for his ability to see the big picture, Ashiq draws on his expertise to help organizations align their technology with their business goals. Ashiq was recently recognized as an Emerging Leader by The Peak.
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