By Dom Tancredi, Co-Founder & CEO
The words of the day are grow, learn, and nurture. Now you ask yourself, how does this relate to mobile app development? For mobile app development, you have to look at it from a holistic point of view. It’s not just about the user interface, the visual designs, and content. It’s about the entirety of the digital product (performance, stability, security, and more) and not just a sum of its parts. Mobile apps add value to not only your business but more importantly to your end user.
No One Births an Adult Child
It comes down to a very simple analogy. No animal gives birth to an adult child. Everyone starts with a baby. Babies need love, attention, and support to grow. They need a person to look up to, someone to learn from and guide them to make right decisions. They need people to that will foster and nurture a relationship. Someone to trust, teach them patience, responsibility and how to be self-reliant adults. Mobile app development is no different. You have to grow, support, and nurture the ever-changing needs of your end users.
Here are the top 7 best practices to consider for mobile app development.
1. Talk to Your Users
You would never open a restaurant without having friends and family taste the dishes and give you feedback, so why would you build an app without talking to your end users? Discovery is a crucial stage of app development. It’s a method to validate your purpose for building an app and also aims to align the business needs with that of the users.
By conducting user interviews, you have the opportunity to speak directly with potential and current users. You define and identify user personas, user stories, and work to target early adopters for the app. By understanding the vision and business problem, you can empathize with users and create solutions. The measure of a successful discovery session and talking to your users is the shared understanding acquired between cross-functional team members and client.
2. Learn the Process of Digital Product Management
It takes a village to build a mobile app. You have to have the vision of the product, user experience, interface design, mobile development, web development, DevOps, quality assurance and more. A single mobile app can have a half-dozen disciplines working in tandem to bring to market. To create quality work, and to be able to maintain consistent quality it is essential to value and understand the process of digital product development. What meetings or ceremonies do they have? What are the phases of each area of the product? What is the cadence of meetings and how often is your visibility (and decision-power) necessary to keep the team at a steady velocity of output?
There are several classes in digital product ownership and management that you can take. Institutions such as the Scrum Alliance which puts forth one of the many different methodologies that facilitate organizing and engaging a team to achieve the goal of launching great digital work product. Whatever methodology you use, take the time to understand it and know the role of digital product ownership. As they say, “if you don’t know how to boil water, engage with a chef who can.”
3. Have an Active Advocate and Product Owner
Who is going to be the decision-maker? Who advocates for your app when marketing, users, and competitors sway the direction of your roadmap? Do you have someone from your internal team that is going to participate actively?
It is crucial that there be a dedicated decision-maker from your team that is engaging with your digital agency to make sure the development is in line with your vision. You don’t want to work with an agency that says they can build the app and then comes back 9 months later with an app that is not up to your standards. Or, even worse, with a completely different vision.
In addition to a client advocate, it’s best to recruit a product owner. The product owner’s role is to represent the client and oversee the entire development process. Establishing trust, actively listening, maintaining a level head are all traits that make a great product owner. Many times you may be asked to make a decision about something you feel you don’t have the expertise on. An experienced product owner will be able to guide you through these challenges and more.
Ultimately, you want to find a product owner that embraces your vision, with a balance between neutrality and an educated opinion to keep the successful launch of your product top-of-mind.
4. Develop Strong Relationships
To piggyback and elaborate on having an advocate and product owner, you have to develop strong relationships with multiple disciplines. Having a shared vision and mindset is crucial so that decisions can be executed for what’s best for the product. Just like friends, family, and personal relationships, communication is key to the success of a business relationship as well. To do that, remember to:
- Convey respect
- Be open-minded
- Listen to what is NOT said
- Give and receive feedback
You do not (and will not) always agree with your digital team. However, you have to maintain a healthy relationship and be able to understand everyone’s strength and roles along the way.
5. Use a Modern, Sane Technology
Simply put, use a modern, sane technology on a platform that people are excited about. Technological and digital products are continually changing, and it is essential to choose a platform that is in line with your target audience.
Pay attention to your technical debt. You may want to deliver code quickly, but you can easily find yourself in technical debt. Trust us when we say someday that debt will need to be paid. The code may be easy to implement at the start but can quickly turn into extra work later on equating to more time and money invested. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t build prototypes, but you should make sure the code is right for the programming task at hand.
Listen to the experts, the developers on your project know what they are talking about and will be able to tell you what the right platform is for your product and the right environment in which to build your product.
6. Don’t Ever Stop
Iterate, iterate, iterate! To go beyond delivering the end product you have to look for ways to improve your app continually. By making improvements to your app, you will keep your current users engaged and market to new users. Don’t ever stop concepting, ideating, and prototyping. Stay one step ahead of your users, and you’ll constantly see your KPI’s met. Execute ongoing adaptive updates based on your user’s feedback. Adding new features is great but make sure that there are reasons (business and user-driven ones.) Sometimes less is more. You don’t want to make changes to your app unless it adds value to your end user. Don’t ever forget you always want your app to be useful to someone.
7. Think About the Future
Think about your version 2, your version 3, and beyond. With iteration comes innovation and thinking about what happens next. Perhaps there is a future for AI, voice assistance (chatbots), augmented reality or virtual reality. Maybe in the future, you’ll want to integrate advanced security options with blockchain or a different way to integrate Bitcoin and alternative payment methods. You have to learn to adapt to the changes that are inevitably going to happen, especially in the tech world.
Add Value to Your User and Your Business
You never stop learning as a human, no matter what your age is, and that should be the same for mobile app development. There will always be a new and better way to do things but keeping your end user top of mind and identifying what role the app plays in their life is crucial to your success. Remember the app needs to be engaging and a part of your user’s everyday experience to be a valuable asset for your business.
Have an app idea and not sure where to start? Contact us today to get started with a Discovery session with our team.