9 questions to ask before developing a mobile app
Given the wide range of companies now considering multi-platform mobile apps, I thought it might be a good idea to write down some of the common questions it's worth exploring before deciding to develop a mobile app.
1. What's the business case?
A business case is a set of clear intentions about what a project is going to do, where it is going to go, and what it is supposed to achieve. Without this written down somewhere and agreed by stakeholders, mobile app development projects will lack purpose and direction.
Moreover, you have to examine how realistic your business case is. Is it really an achievable goal? Will it produce the difference it promises? Does it add enough value to gain momentum and downloads?
2. How does it add value?
A multitide of developers release apps which are thin in terms of the difference they make. The fact that it's an app isn't a selling point. The selling point is the difference it makes and the value it adds to people's lives. The app stores are full of applications which missed the mark because they didn't maximise the value they added to the end user.
This means market and competitor research.
3. Costs V rewards
Mobile app development is not the next get rich quick scheme, despite the obvious goldrush that's happened. Flappy Bird went viral causing its author to take the game offline because he was so overwhelmed by the press attention. He was making $40,000 a day from ad revenues at its peak. But runaway successes are the exception rather than the rule.
Mobile apps are a real investment of time, energy and expertise with no guaranteed success. Just because an app is on the app stores, and is searchable by billions of users, does not mean it will be found.
Yet there are still extraordinary gaps that exist where new products are yet to be created. Many of our most world changing events have happened because of new technology products released within the last 15 years.
Making an app that makes a real difference is going to cost real money.
4. Which platform(s)?
Many companies start out by developing on a single platform such as the iPhone.
But if you plan to eventually release the app on all three platforms, it's worth beginning building with the end in mind. Choose an app developer with multi-platform capabilities so you don't have to pay three times over to get it onto all platforms. There are developers,, like Reactor15 , who build from a single code base making it more cost effective to roll apps out onto other platforms.
Android has a 41.5% market share.
Android devices are the most prolific smartphone devices. But where there are so many devices, there are also so many developers resulting in greater competition and saturation in the marketplaces. So it may be that much harder to reach your audience.
iPhone currently has a 48% market share.
iPhone apps get reviewed before they can be accepted into the app store. This means there is a higher level of quality control. And it is also the platform which it is easiest to develop for. iPhone users are regarded as being more willing to pay for apps than Droid users.
Windows Phone has a 2.1% market share.
Windows are the new kids on the app store block. Given the small market share, you might think them worth discounting. But the truth could be somewhat different. As a big player with a small market share, Windows are working incredibly hard to catch up. In fact, we've found the platform to be very successful for one of our mobile games with over 50,000 downloads to date. As a newer platform, with many fewer developers, it's possible that it represents an opportunity right now because it isn't yet oversaturated. Like iTunes they review apps before submission which means there is a quality control process.
Stats from Netmarketshare as of 6 June 2014.
5. What is your USP?
If you’re developing an application for public consumption, it has to have a USP (Unique Selling Point) or point of differentiation. It has do something better or differently or more stylishly. It has to be superior in some way, otherwise it doesn’t really offer anything new. There are already many apps out there. Be sure that uniqueness isn’t your only selling point and raison d’etre for choosing mobile app development. It’s worthwhile researching what’s already out there on Google Play and the iTune store.
6. Are there other viable routes?
Just because apps are the latest thing does not mean they are always the best distribution channel. Your idea may be better off starting as a website with later expansion into mobile apps. If it's content, it might be better off as a Kindle book. The point here is that it's important to develop in an app if it delivers a specific advantage because of its ready mobility.
In short order, does it need to pay its way? If so, how will it do that? What’s the right price to pay for a download? Should iPhone and Google Play prices be different? Or do you intend to monetise it by integrating an ad platform and offering it for free? If so, how frequently will adverts be shown? And how often will the user return to the app? There are tons of questions to answer here.
If you're funding the application with advertising, the app will only pay its way if you get a lot of return users creating mobile impressions of adverts. If you're unlikely to create many impressions through the app (such as something which might valuable but only used occasionally) then you may be better off charging per download.
If you're offering an app for free, bear in mind that it still needs to fulfill a unique niche and that offering it for free is no guarantee of downloads.
If you're a business developing an app, a similar logic applies. At what point does it pay for itself in your business?
8. Data sources
More often than game development, we’re asked to build mobile apps for business. There are many uses: for example, helping teams in the field gather data more effectively and accurately; visualising sales and production data in graph forms. Usually applications like this will interface with one of your internal data systems. The IT infrastructure here is important to make sure people have the information they need, when they need it. What systems will you need to draw data from? You certainly don’t have to have all the answers, but it’s a good idea to have an understanding of your company information systems so the app developer can understand which systems need to communicate with each other.
Simply being on the app store does not guarantee downloads. Therefore every app should have a sufficient marketing and PR plan, whether with your customers in the case of a B2B app or in terms of wider PR and marketing with a B2C application.
We believe in due diligence and helping you make sure that you’re developing the right thing on the right platform. If you’ve got a project in mind and need a developer, why don’t you call us?
Join our mailing list
Thu 18 Feb | 2016
We have just launched a new app to help reduce waiting times in hospitals across Devon and Cornwall. The app, NHSquicker, allows people to view up-to-date waiting times for local emergency departments and minor injuries units. It also provides information regarding distance and time to different treatment centres, based on the user's location. Reactor15 have been working with Exeter Health and Care IMPACT Network, a collaboration between the NHS across Devon and Cornwall and academics from the University of Exeter to build an app which is widely available for smartphones and tablets, on Apple and Android. The NHSquicker app took six months to build and is a fully native app developed using our own custom framework. Using a native platform which allowed us to build a fast, responsive and reliable experience to users, when accuracy and speed of information is very important. The app also provides information about less urgent NHS services, including GPs, pharmacies, sexual health services, dentists and opticians. Mike Saunders, Managing Director of Reactor15 said: "It’s great, once again, to be involved in building a really useful NHS tool. We were asked to build an app which will not only help reduce waiting times in our local hospitals but will also help patients make the right choices with regards to how and where they receive their treatment. We believe our native app platform is both robust and versatile enough to meet the needs and brief of Exeter Health and Care IMPACT Network." Reactor15 have a good working relationship with the NHS and have already built the award winning HANDi Paedatric, POPs apps and the Devon and Wakefield Formularies. NHSquicker can be downloaded on iTunes and Google Play.
Thu 18 Feb | 2016
Reactor15 have been working with Exeter based commercial finance specialists Charterbank Capital, to help develop an intergrated digital marketing strategy. Targeting the south of England, Charterbank Capital have a range of packages for commercial customers including bridging loans, auction finance, development loans and farm finance. Reactor15 have been working on their main site www.charterbank.co.uk. Looking to generate enquires to their service, we have implemented our 11 point SEO plan on the site and have also created an AdWords campaign.
Thu 18 Feb | 2016
Reactor15 have been busy helping Exeter based Busy Bees Window Cleaning Services and Busy Bees Carpet Cleaning Service with some search engine optimisation.