We know better than most that mobile application developers have a lot on their minds. Between development and marketing, developers face roughly a million decisions before their app even launches, decisions that could ultimately decide whether their work connects with their intended audience or is dead on arrival.
Of course, we at AppSolid are known to trumpet the underestimated significance of mobile application security. After all, many developers like you still fail to secure their mobile application, despite growing concern about cyberattacks and the potentially disastrous fallout for both your app and its users. If you still haven’t taken proper action to guard against hackers and other malicious users, be sure to do so immediately, even if your app is already on the market.
Although a tight security framework certainly should be in place before your app launches, it’s only a part of the uphill battle you’ll face as you approach your app’s launch. Regardless if you’re new to the mobile app business or a seasoned veteran, you have a lot to consider as your app’s development continues.
However, before you get too deep into your latest project, we wanted to share a few key aspects of your app that you should get ironed out before sending it off into the world to either soar high within the market or come crashing down with a disappointing thud. So, without further delay, here is a checklist of sorts for what you need to consider to optimize your app’s performance.
Identify your target audience
Before you launch your app, you want to know as much as possible about what it can do for consumers and precisely who these people are. Certainly, this will be the product of more than a few behind-the-scenes conversations, which will hopefully yield a clearer understanding of your app’s full capabilities.
You should always be targeting a very specific group of people with every launch, as research shows this is the easily the best way to boost sales and gain attention in an increasingly crowded field. Case in point, more and more apps are popping up every year, and it’s become harder and harder to find pockets of opportunity within them.
Find your target audience, market to them vigorously and your app will be that much closer to establishing itself as an indispensable resource, at least among a certain group of people. Niche markets are bigger now than ever before.
Leverage mobile technology
Perhaps your app is simply a mobile version of a service you already offer on traditional web browsers. If this is the case, we applaud your willingness to expand to a new format. However, be careful not to simply carbon-copy your design and functionality over to the mobile space. No matter what kind of app you have, we encourage you to explore the growing realm of what is possible on smartphones and tablets these days.
From location-based features to integration with social media or other popular apps, your app needs to be customized to the mobile experience to truly stand out for consumers. The smoother the layout is and the simpler the features are to use, the more likely people are to engage in your app. Don’t let your app be the outlier not taking advantage of the latest trends that could hook users in and keep them there.
Know your platform
So you’ve decided to create a new app, but then the inevitable question emerges: iOS or Android? Both platforms offer their own distinct set of advantages and drawbacks, to be sure. To start with, the best course of action is to focus on one or the other and tailor your app towards that.
In order to make the selection that will most benefit your app, you’ll have to perform some in-depth research into the details of these dueling platforms, including the view lifecycles on both. You’ll undoubtedly want to ensure that your app maintains optimal performance no matter how many users are logged in. Learning the ins and outs of both platforms beforehand will give you the wherewithal to anticipate any problems you might encounter along the way to launch and what opportunities you can employ to propel your app’s growth ahead.
If your app is a success, you can always develop a version tailored to the other platform down the line, in which case the knowledge you acquire about it will be put to good use as well.
Don’t forget your memory
One of the most common roadblocks that developers run into with their apps involves memory storage. Even in today’s techno-centric age, most mobile devices don’t offer nearly the extensive memory banks that desktop and laptop computers do. To accompany this, incorporate low-data options like smaller images into your app’s design so that it doesn’t require much memory to perform its basic functions.
A slow-loading app will be the first thing to trigger a user to jump ship, and especially at these early stages when you’re hoping to build brand loyalty, you cannot afford that. Such “lightweight” apps will deliver faster load times and therefore facilitate your users’ (presumably) busy schedules and nonstop lives. Once you approach your app with this mindset, you’ll be surprised how quickly you spot opportunities to trim back the amount of memory it needs to run. Remember to account for memory before your launch, if possible.
It’s all about integration
Today’s users are, well, used to all the disparate parts of their life fitting seamlessly together, at least when it comes to their technology. So it’s essential for the lifespan of your app that you consider opportunities for integration before launch. These can be as simple as connecting to a platform’s built-in map, payment or web browsing defaults or can be more complex based on the needs of your specific niche.
Regardless, logins and functionality -- where it makes sense, of course -- should be streamlined to allow your app and its impressive features to slip easily into your users’ existing mobile behavior. If they test or download your app and find that they have to shift away from staples that a) are already taking memory space on their device and b) they already know how to use, they’re far more likely to hit the delete button and search for one of your competitors that will work within their established habits.
Proper data management is key
While we don’t have any inside knowledge into what your app entails, it’s a safe bet that some amount of data is transmitted and/or stored within it throughout each user session. As you continue developing your app, take into account how that data is managed. For instance, don’t rely on the mobile side of the setup to handle your data stream, no matter how large or small it may be. Instead, turn to the server for the smoothest data synchronization possible.
This limits the possibility of data corruption and the development of any errors within your app. Moreover, you may choose to create a data cache on the device, though proceed with caution depending on your security setup and the sensitive nature of the data itself. This is, after all, the data that any cyber-attackers looking to stir up trouble will likely be targeting.
Carefully consider pricing
Ah, the age-old question: how much should I charge for my app? In today’s marketplace, consumers are used to a variety of options in that department, from free apps that then upsell to paid premium versions to high-value apps that expect prospective users to rise to their price point. Only you can decide for certain where your app lies on that spectrum. This will depend on a great number of factors.
If you have other revenue streams in place through your app (such as paid content or built-in ads), then a free initial version might be the right way to go. In addition, you might wish to offer a limited-time price immediately following your launch to build up word of mouth before raising the price marginally soon thereafter. For the most part, $1.99 tends to be the perfect middle-ground. Take stock on what has worked for your competitors before settling on a final decision.
Timing is everything
Even if you’re all set and ready to publish your app on your selected platform, you might want to think twice before you do so. Research shows that newly launched mobile apps, for whatever reason, perform better in the summer and the winter holidays than any other time of year. Part of this can likely be attributed to people on vacation, travelling and glued to their smartphones and tablets.
If you’re ready to go in the middle of March, you might want to wait a bit to maximize the impact your app makes when it does hit market. This extra time could allow you some more time to ratchet up your pre-launch marketing campaign or perform some last-minute tweaks to your coding. The point is that, when you finally do launch, your app will be more than ready to reach as many consumers in your target audience as possible.
Study your market
This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many developers rush into launching their apps without conducting a thorough exploration of the market their baby is about to be tossed into. Before you hit launch, identify your target users and conduct some preliminary rounds of testing to ensure that you are making the best decisions possible with regard to your app’s design.
You can have the most sophisticated product in the world, but if your interface isn’t easy to use and understand for your average user, you may very well be doomed before your launch even happens. The power of good ol’ A/B testing cannot be underestimated. Don’t rely on simply your company’s social media activity to ascertain what your prospective users need. To achieve marketing excellence, first you need to know how the game is played and who the players are. Now’s your chance to get up to speed.
Consider the competition
We’ve already alluded to the need to keep tabs on your competitors, but this is such an integral part of pre-launch that we needed to give it a spotlight of its own. Look at what your competitors are doing, what’s worked and hasn’t for them and how you can improve upon their functionality. In the best of cases, you might even see an opportunity for a new feature or two that no one has even struck upon.
This could be the distinctive edge you need to establish your app as something fresh and different. Who knows? This one feature could wind up being the crux of your entire marketing campaign for your app. We’re not condoning straight-up imitation of your competitors, but searching elsewhere within your niche for inspiration is a great way to determine where your app will fall within the gamut of options out there for consumers.
Upwardly Mobile Apps
Looking back at the past few years, it’s incredible how fast mobile technology has ascended to such a prominent position in our culture. It’s already the most common way consumers connect to the internet, and there have been no signs it will slow down anytime soon.
That said, mobile application development as a whole is an industry that will only continue to evolve, and it’s up to developers like yourself to keep the market going strong in the years ahead.
Many new and emerging trends may cause some of the above advice to become even more essential to your app’s success, and we can only imagine what other challenges the future will bring. The steps you take before your app’s launch will influence the first impression you make on your prospective user base, and that’s a position you need to never take for granted.
We don’t point this out to alarm you. On the contrary, the best chance you’ll have to achieve the success you’ve been dreaming of for your app is to be prepared. That means you need to be able to step back -- as objectively as you can, mind you -- and take a full-picture, warts-and-all look at the world of mobile applications.
Naturally, security is an integral part of this. We at AppSolid remain committed to helping you deliver the best, safest version of your app possible. If you need help implementing security measures for your app, please reach out to us so that your app can put its best foot forward prior to launch.