The article was updated on March 03, 2021.
With the expansion of mobile app development rapidly accelerating, more and more businesses lean towards more portable kinds of software to represent their brands. While classical websites remain a powerful asset, mobile apps in 2021 capture the most attention and display stunning customer retention rates.
The growth of the mobile sector is so huge, experts forecast 350 billion downloads across Android and iOS official and third-party app stores this year. For companies not yet on board, it’s time to look into mobile development and seize their chance to outrun their competitors while investing in a useful and future-oriented venture.
In this article, we’ll tell you how to create an app for your business and what influence it can have on your sales, revenue, and market standing.
Mobile apps in 2021 can act as a core product of your business, a marketing channel, a data well for analytics, and a gateway to a more personalized and targeted communication with your customers.
Let’s take a look at some of the most significant results of custom app development and determine why your company needs its own application.
Mobile app as a core product
Nowadays, a company can develop a mobile app as its primary product and weave the business around it. For many industries, a mobile application is the main source of profit, as well as the most valuable asset.
The most mobile-friendly niches include the following:
- delivery: order food or items and have them delivered;
- taxi: Uber-like services, carsharing, spontaneous and scheduled trips, and car rentals;
- traveling: book tickets and hotels, plan trips, download location maps;
- fintech: online payments, expense tracking, investment, insurance, cryptocurrency trading;
- freelance marketplaces like Upwork: connect freelancers with clients;
- telemedicine: virtual consultations, schedule visits, receive lab reports, review patients’ medical history;
- education: online courses, digital certificates, possible university credit; and
- on-demand home services: repairs, home cleaning and maintenance, decoration, gardening, and so on.
Besides, you are not particularly inhibited if you don’t want to take an in-depth approach in learning how to create an app from scratch, as software development companies like Eastern Peak offer top-quality development services and guidance.
Expanded customer base
As a marketing channel, a mobile application is generally more viral than a classical web page. It appeals to larger audiences, and people will share it more easily if they like it. Besides, apps are presented in app stores, unlike websites that are virtually impossible to discover without specifically searching for them.
Improved brand’s visibility
Another reason to develop your own app is its capacity to greatly increase people’s knowledge of your brand. When a potential user opens the app, they’re greeted by the specific design you chose to represent your company: the colors, the feel of the app, whether it’s trendy and flashy or sophisticated and minimalistic. As users get accustomed to the app, they grow more prone to noticing your brand in other media as well.
Personalized and direct connection
Mobile apps generally feel more personal than websites. They’re always just a touch away, and users see them multiple times throughout the day by simply picking up their phones. This way of communication amplifies the feeling of rapport between a user and the company, and it’s only reinforced by simplified feedback forms and 24/7 chat support.
Better loyalty and client retention
As a result of being a constant presence in a person’s life, mobile apps improve customer loyalty for the brands they represent. Also, as smartphones and texting are rapidly becoming the preferred ways of communication for many customers, businesses without apps will soon fall behind their competition as consumers drift to companies that offer modern solutions.
More data for analytics
Companies gather tons of data about their customers via applications. If you create a mobile app, it becomes possible to leverage all this information about users’ preferences, purchases, and public mentions to adjust your marketing and personalize recommendations. Analytics also helps forecast demand and improve user experience.
Learning how to make an app can give your business an edge over your industry’s competition by attracting and retaining more clients, boosting sales, and accumulating data to analyze and leverage. As far as internal operations go, mobile applications can also work to optimize and automate corporate processes and improve employee productivity.
The software development life cycle consists of three main stages: pre-development, development, and post-deployment. Each of these milestones contains several steps that transform your idea into a profitable asset.
Although the details can vary for your company, it’s still beneficial to learn how to create an app step-by-step before you dive in.
Define your goals
A large part of the project consists of identifying what goals and objectives you have. Examine your initial idea and define what goals, values, and purpose it has, how you wish the users to perceive the app, and what direction you might choose to expand into in the future.
Conduct market research
Study your potential target audiences, competitors, and trends in the chosen niche before jumping into development. You can start by dissecting applications similar to yours: pay attention to their monetization models, features, user satisfaction rates, and gaps in functionality or performance that your software can fill.
Also, take notice of what unites the apps in your sector. They reflect the typical functionality that users in your industry expect, and failing to include it can turn out to be a major setback.
In terms of customer research, start drafting the vision of your target audience as soon as you get the idea to develop an app. First of all, this research uncovers what features, design, and marketing strategy you should employ. Secondly, your target audience defines the app’s technology stack and platforms.
Pick a monetization model
Whether a mobile application is your core product, or it’s supplementary to your business, it’s crucial to establish how it will bring revenue. Several widespread ways to monetize the app include
- affiliate marketing;
- paid premium version or a subscription plan;
- transaction fees for financial applications;
- virtual goods for gaming apps; and
- in-app purchases.
Since the chosen monetization model will affect the design for the user interface and ultimately the whole customer journey, it’s essential to settle this at the very beginning of the app development process.
Write a functional specification
Once you have an in-depth understanding of your idea and market niche, it’s time to move to more concrete stages of app development. Start by creating a thorough functional specification for your application.
The specification brings together your vision of the final product, detailed requirements, features, and design choices. It also defines use cases and examines how customers’ needs will align with your company’s goals. The specification works as a final version of your plan: it defines the scope of the process, illustrates how all functionality bits are supposed to work together, and determines the exact actions that will transform your vision into a quality product.
Create a full UX/UI design
Designing the interface and shaping the best possible user experience is one of the pivotal moments in app development.
Overall, the UX acts as a backbone of the app. It defines the look and logic of your software, planning out all major elements of functionality, their interactions, and effects on users. Therefore, it’s essential to construct the UX at this early stage to ensure the app turns out intuitive and engaging.
The UI works to bring the shine to your app and distinguish it from the massive competition on the market. When you discuss the user interface with your designers, aim to infuse the app with details that highlight the most entrancing parts of your company. Feel free to be creative but remember that the UI should fall in line with the UX and further enhance it.
Read more about how to create a compelling UI: Mobile app design. From blueprint to masterpiece
At Eastern Peak, we use this stage in custom mobile app development to explore how the final product will feel and behave, and also provide our clients the opportunity to test their desired features.
Build an interactive visual prototype
Once the design is finished, it’s time to attach it to a functional prototype of your application. This stage is critical when you’re developing an app from scratch because prototyping helps test the first version of the app and avoid wasting resources on fixing it in production if you decide to make some changes.
Having an interactive prototype is also useful for pitch meetings and field testing among a small number of users.
Design a development roadmap
The final pre-production step is creating a visual roadmap of your project. It should contain all of the major milestones, development flow, progress-checking points, and other details that help you maintain supervision over the process and keep the project within the deadline requirements.
Mobile app development
This stage can progress in several ways, depending on how intricate your app is. The main three categories of mobile software by complexity are
- Simple. The application is based on open-source templates, and it mainly consists of drop-down menus. All data necessary for the app’s functioning is stored on users’ devices.
- Database-supported. The app pulls the required data from an outside database instead of a local storage.
- Combined. The information is spread across the device’s memory and various databases.
After determining what functionality is required, your team will build the back end, creating and configuring the necessary servers, initiating API interactions, and setting up databases.
To produce a high-quality application and release it as fast as possible, encourage the collaboration of your team with other departments and involve quality assurance (QA) specialists to test the application on the fly and fix any arising issues quickly.
QA and bug fixing
The most frequently practiced types of QA include unit tests, integrity tests, performance, and acceptance testing. To ensure the app’s resilience to incorrect use cases and potential cyberattacks, employ automation to aid manual testing and repeat the procedure when you add a new feature or change the code.
Once you have a smoothly functioning prototype, release it into a small and controlled pool of users for field testing. Study their feedback and consider what improvements can make the UX better before going live on app stores.
When the application is ready, it’s time to release it. Both the Google Play and Apple App Store impose a review period of several days, so plan your deployment ahead and consider the possibility of delays.
Although deployment is a significant milestone in developing an app, it’s not the culmination of the process. Similarly to the pre-production stage, the post-launch period contains a lot of work necessary to gain new users and make the app profitable.
Promote your app
Marketing is what brings the idea to potential customers’ doorsteps when you build software. Write a compelling description that contains relevant keywords to make the app more discoverable. You can also seek SEO and marketing services from your software development company.
Besides optimizing the app’s details, use multiple marketing channels and advertise your software on social media, influencer blogs, partner companies’ sites, YouTube, and podcast platforms. Target the channels that your audience prefers. For instance, if your app is oriented toward a younger generation, marketing it on TikTok and Instagram will be more effective than relying on Facebook.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are represented by quantifiable values that reflect your application’s progress on the market after you launch it. Monitoring and analyzing them helps understand how well the app is performing and what needs improvement.
The main KPIs to consider include
- user growth rate;
- downloads, installations, and un-installations;
- user registrations and subscriptions if applicable;
- user retention rate;
- how much time per session users typically spend on the app;
- how long it takes users to install updates;
- the average number of daily/weekly/monthly active users;
- in-app purchases; and
- the company’s revenue per user.
User feedback is among the most reliable indicators of how well the app is performing. Encourage customers to send feedback by making the corresponding section easily available in the app.
When you gather enough feedback, analyze the reports and distinguish the potential areas of improvement. It’s also beneficial to notice the features and details that cause the most customer satisfaction. You can apply these insights to polish your app and not only gain new users but boost the retention rates of the existing ones.
Conduct maintenance and support
Once the initial wave of downloads settles down, maintenance will become more routine but no less important. Constantly monitor the app’s performance and user feedback and deliver patches, bug fixes, or updates when necessary. If you choose to outsource mobile app development, the provider company might also be able to provide maintenance services.
At Eastern Peak Software we provide our clients with all the necessary services, support included. The development team takes full responsibility of their creations, repairing any bugs pre and post release.
Outsourcing app development to a company proves invaluable at this stage. The work on the app is continuous because of the time difference. You can exchange feedback that you have during your evening and know that in the morning everything will be fixed. Convenient, isn’t it?
It is also important to make updates from time to time. The world is moving on, you have to be flexible. With a software development company, you won’t need to keep a team of developers in-house. You also won’t need to worry about the availability of your freelancer. What is even more important, you obviously won’t need to wait for months for updates from a Do-It-Yourself service. With a software company, updating your app is easy.
Have a great idea for an app but don’t know where to start? Book a free consultation on your project!