The ideology of successful app development
Even before economic lockdown became a part of life, the business environment was transforming; customers were demanding more of everything – more control, more accessibility, more data and more transparency.
They wanted service at their fingertips no matter where they were working from or what kind of device they were using. These demands drove the rise of the app, and Covid19 only accelerated the process as more people started working from home. According to research by comparison site Finder.com, 60% of the UK workforce worked exclusively from home at the height of lockdown but 26% said they planned to continue after restrictions are lifted.
Consumer data specialists Statista predicts that 20 billion apps will be downloaded in 2020 in the UK alone. Any business wanting to survive and grow needs to offer a mobile compatible app from which customers can access their service or product.
There has also been a democratic revolution in app development that’s transforming the entrepreneurial world. Once seen as the preserve of large corporations, technocrats and coders, apps are being developed in ever greater numbers by entrepreneurs in start-ups and SMEs in order to increase productivity and relevance and to reach out to new customers in an increasingly digital world.
A poll by market researchers Clutch in 2018 showed that over 70% of small businesses either had or were planning to develop an app. In addition to e-commerce and social media sectors, apps have spread rapidly in new verticals where customer experience or access to data is crucial, for example, hospitality and food services, healthcare, travel and finance. For businesses launching in difficult times, an app can be a key part of its marketing strategy.
New trends in app design
And in the B2B world, app development is being driven by new forces, for example, the desire for more, accurate, real-time information in a “just-in-time” supply chain.
B2B clients want a personalised experience, with focused, relevant functionality tied to a better user experience (UX). In fact, they demand something like the B2C experience they’ve become used to, and this opens up new opportunities for B2B businesses to stand out.
Developing a successful app: Where do you start?
Developing an app to meet the customer’s needs and give a better UX can increase a business’s presence, boost productivity and cement customer loyalty – if done properly. However, it’s important to keep in mind some universal truths for managing any project.
Have a plan and stick to it. Whether you develop your app in-house or you use an external publisher, you can’t simply hand responsibility over and expect the product you want. You must decide how your app fits into your business strategy and what it should do. Then plan how you’re going to produce, launch and support it.
Do your market research. Make sure your app meets a clearly defined need before you invest in it. Thorough research at the start gives you all the information you need to provide a full brief to your developer or trusted technology partner. No matter how good your app developer is, giving a bad brief will result in an app without a defined market, the right functionality or a purpose. Ensure you map out every stage of the user journey.
Less is more. A well-designed app should add value and make life better for the customer; anything else is unnecessary. Design isn’t necessarily about giving the wow factor, it’s about personalization, simplicity, convenience, minimalism and accessibility. Lots of features might seem like a great idea but they slow down an app, make it difficult to use and more expensive to develop. Launching a minimum viable product (MVP) is a way to test both its functionality and the market before you sink more time and money into an “all-singing, all-dancing” product the market doesn’t need.
Pick the right partner. Some developers, especially one-man-bands, claim to be gifted coders and promise the Earth, before shifting the goalposts and increasing your costs with an ever-expanding build process.
Creating an app also requires a range of skills. You need a professional team, with a wide range of talents and a systems-based approach, to achieve consistent results with proven cooperate maturity and authority in their domain, e.g. certified/partners in AWS & Microsoft Azure for app hosting, branding and marketing, UX design and invoicing. Every touchpoint and step of the end-user’s journey must be considered and worked into the app by people who understand these disciplines. Bringing in a trusted technology partner will ensure that the focus remains on UX rather than the coding.
Resource your project properly. Budget for new technologies. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and bot technology add much to UX and are becoming standard. Machine learning and AI may be emerging tech now, but they are becoming mainstream technologies, transforming app personalisation and functionality in everyday use. These technologies need proper funding to be done properly.
And don’t forget the end-user. It’s worth saying again, focus on the user and their experience at every stage of the development process. Remember, the app is for them, not you. Too often the app developer puts themselves and their needs at the centre of the app, but a user-focused ideology will flip assumptions and priorities on their head. What app would make the potential user’s life easier? How and where dol they want to use it? How can you make your app a better experience so that they keep coming back?
A systems-based ideology for success
As an entrepreneur/business owner you need to work with app developers (trusted technology partners) who share your mindset: people who are creative and entrepreneurial, who are more than coders.
At Incepteo we have developed a distinctive method of working with clients which puts the UX at the centre of what we do. Our client comes to us with a challenge but instead of just writing a requirement document and diving straight into the coding, our team explores the ideation to market process much more deeply.
We hold a one- to two-day day discovery workshop to go through every detail, taking notes and creating a visual mind-map and mood boards to build user personae and develop a holistic picture of the desired UX.
We then help to create a brand, testing options before looking at the technical architecture, hosting, platforms and operating systems. Only then do we start coding and working towards a prototype for testing.
The client can log into our collaborative project portal space to see for themselves the progress being made at every stage of development, giving full transparency.
This reproducible system allows Incepteo to deliver consistently for our clients, saving them time and money in the long run by bringing their app to market more quickly and avoiding costs added through wasted development or even product withdrawal. We typically cut development times from 18 months to 9 months, resulting in significant savings whether you’re bootstrapping your development or producing through investor fund-raising.
A better mindset: putting people before code
We believe that a tech-centric approach to developing an app is starting from the wrong end. Diving straight into the coding results in an app may showcase how clever it is but does the customer care? Just look at the simplicity of the home page typical of a Google app which belies the complexity behind them.
The user doesn’t need to know how clever the coding is, they just want simple navigation. The more effort you put into an app that makes life a little easier, the less a customer will notice the planning, design and economical coding you’ve put into your app and the more they will like you. And that’s exactly how it should be.