Five Ways to NOT Develop Your Mobile App
October 02, 20153 min read
In life and in mobile, we can learn a lot by examining what not to do. Process matters. Take for example cooking a steak. You can put a steak in a microwave and achieve the desired internal temperature. But that would not yield a delicious result.
So broil, don’t microwave. And when you’re cooking up your mobile app:
- Do NOT start with design. All too often, organizations spend a lot of money, time and effort obsessing on the look and feel of their apps, on the colors, placements and shapes of the elements that will eventually appear on the screen. They think that designing flashy screens equals designing functionality. Wrong. Form follows function. Let the app design develop as a result of functionality, which often evolves during the building process.
- Do NOT try to make your app do everything. Even when organizations buy into functionality first, they often try to manage anything even remotely related to their apps. Does your app use photos? Don’t try to add a photo management module in your app; an app already exists for that. Stay focused. Identify what your app is first, not what it does.
- Do NOT ignore the ecosystem in which your app operates. A good app typically relies on outside services and data. If you do not engage with existing third party APIs, you will have to build your own. This requires much attention to the system to distribute, track, and update data. Often, these systems help to determine the functionality of your app.
- Do NOT attempt to focus on cross-platform development. The lure of a single app that works across multiple platforms can pull your development off course. You may know that you want your app to work across multiple mobile platforms, but don’t let that desire dictate your development. Decide what your app is and what it will do and let those factors drive the decision on a platform.
- Do NOT think “We’ll figure out that little stuff after our app launches.” Process matters. You’ll feel the urge to get to pixels on screens ASAP. But remember that your app must be deployed, supported and updated. Good functional planning, code documentation and a support and upgrade strategy will save a lot of misery and money as your app lives out its life in the wild.
- Bonus point! If your app is either for sale or relies on in-app purchases or subscriptions, do NOT overestimate the value of your app and do NOT underestimate the effort required to provide additional value. Even in the age of micro-transactions, users still demand value for money, even if it is just 99 cents. Certain genres of apps, such as games, can get away with minimal benefit per transaction, but generally users expect greater functionality and polish for paid apps or transactions.
Spend time looking at successful apps by all means. But spend an equal or greater amount of time looking at failed apps – for example, all those apps unused and buried on your own phone -- and identifying cause of death. A failed app may have begun with a great idea, but failed because of poor market research, bad cross-platform development, poor user experience, improper testing or deployment or because impatient developers cooked a steak in a microwave.