An Introductory Guide to Mobile App Development for Small Businesses

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Think quick: Who are your three biggest competitors? Now do a little research and find out if they have mobile apps. If they do and you don’t, you’re at a decisive disadvantage. If they’re also lacking apps, then you have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. Either way, you need an app.

The “Why” Behind Business Apps

Mobile apps used to be a new, trendy way for large businesses and hip startups to engage a segment of the marketplace. Today, it’s a staple resource for any business. And mobile apps are no longer designed to reach a portion of the marketplace. That’s because the mobile app demographic is the marketplace!

Not only do mobile apps boast a high penetration rate, but they’re also powerful and engaging. For companies that sell directly through their mobile app, there’s data to suggest that app users have larger average transaction sizes. For businesses that use apps for customer engagement and communication, there’s the ability to push out notifications, collect data, and track with customers as their needs and pain points evolve.

4 Basic Tips for Developing a Competitive App

As you think about developing a mobile app for your business, here are some things to think about:

  1. Define Your Purpose

“Before you start figuring out how to create an app, you need to first define the reason why you want to create that app in the first place. Without this clarity, your planning will be convoluted, which means your end result will most likely reflect that as well,” BuildFire co-founder Ian Blair advises clients.

It’s not enough to build an app because everyone else has one. While this is certainly an indicator that you need one, it’s not the basis for a successful app. You need purpose and clarity to achieve results that are worth your investment.

  1. Gather Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is something that will need to be solicited throughout the entire app development process. Gathering some insights while you’re still in the ideation phase will ensure you don’t get too far off track.

Poll your customers and ask them about their biggest pain points. You should also ask them about any significant points of friction they have with your company. This may highlight some areas that you can improve upon and/or overcome with a well-developed mobile app.

  1. Research the Competition

Competitive research is something that you need to be doing at every stage of mobile app development.

If you have lots of competitors with mobile apps, you should be compiling as much information as you possibly can. Which features work best? Which ones are ineffective? What do the customer reviews say? Having all of this information available at your fingertips is a huge advantage.

If your competitors don’t have apps, spend time researching why they don’t and what opportunities you have to come in and usurp their ability to reach customers via mobile platforms. You want to develop an app that’s so good that they have no choice but to develop their own app (yet very little chance to overtake yours).

  1. User Test and Optimize

There’s only so much pre-testing you can do with a stripped-down version of the app. At some point, you have to dive in and test the app in a real setting.

When you first release the app and have actual people using it, you’ll inevitably find bugs and glitches. Some will be big and others will be small. Take them as they come and optimize accordingly. Try not to get too overwhelmed. The first few months of a mobile app rollout are rarely smooth. The key is to respond with poise and intentionality.

Kickstart the Process

You aren’t going to develop a high-quality app in a few hours or days. From the time you come up with an idea to the moment you first release it in app stores, it could take months. Having said that, it’s important that you get started sooner rather than later.

Use this article as an introductory guide and move on to some of the smaller details and strategic issues by speaking with an experienced mobile app developer. They’ll be able to walk you through the process and nurture you from start to finish.