It's no secret that mobile is the way of the future. If you don't have an app, or at least a mobile-first website, you are already well behind your competitors. In the past two years alone the number of apps in the app store has nearly doubled, but with the number of apps growing every day, a vast majority of mobile apps just do not get enough share of this market to sustain and survive as a business.
So what causes some apps to succeed so many others fail? How can you make your app one of the success stories? While it is difficult to predict exactly which apps will gain traction, there are some common pitfalls that will certainly bring your chances of success down enormously:
1. Confusing Interface
It’s easy to fall prey to the temptation of making your app too unique in its design and interface. While it is important to have a visually appealing app, it is even more important to have an intuitive and functional design that users will be able to easily navigate. It takes a user less than a minute to decide if they are going to use an app, and most apps are only opened once before being deleted or forgotten about. With the stakes this high, you can't risk losing users because your app's interface is unappealing or confusing.
Think of the flow that a user would take through your app, and design it such that following this path is as simple and obvious as possible. Don’t clutter your app with too many features that are unnecessary for the basic function, and think about what features your customer would actually use.
2. Not keeping your eye on the competition
Many startups and businesses make the mistake of remaining so wrapped up in their own app that they fail to keep the competition in mind. This can be a huge problem because not knowing what the competitors in your niche are doing can keep you blind to the latest trends and opportunities. By keeping a close watch on the strategies, campaigns, design changes, business offerings, social and web presence of your competitors, you can stay current and prevent falling behind your competition. Specific things to keep an eye on include:
- The design and features of competing apps: look at how the user flow works on other apps similar to yours, and notice any features that they have included.
- Look at how competitors are marketing their app: what marketing strategies are they using, and what's working?
- Look at the audience and user base of your competitors' app: who is using their app and how is the app catered to this audience? You can use this information to make your own app more user-centric.
3. No defined target audience
One of the most important things to keep in mind when building an app is your target audience. Knowing your audience will influence every decision you make about your app, from the design, to the features and marketing strategy. If you design your app without a clear idea of who your user will be, you may end up wasting time and money on unnecessary or irrelevant features, or your app may lack certain features that your user would have used. Some tips for gaging your target audience include:
- Categorize your target audience by vocation, age, culture, location and preferences. Keep in mind that if you have an existing company, your mobile app users may be a very different group than your general customers.
- Conduct a survey of your existing business customers and the kind of app they expect from a business like yours.
- Look at competing apps, who their users are and how they appeal to their customer base.
- Lastly, always address the user concerns with every new update. An app is perfected over time through feedback and correction mechanisms.
4. Poor marketing strategy
Many developers make the mistake of spending countless hours perfecting the interface, design and functionality of their app, but overlooking another equally (if not more) important factor: getting people to actually download it. This comes down to the marketing and app store optimization.
Without marketing your app well, it is likely to just get lost in the sea of other apps in the app store, no mater how well made it is. Therefore you should start marketing it early, and continue throughout the launch of the app. Some effective marketing strategies include:
- Create a social media account for your app on all platforms, and share content that is relevant and interesting to your customers to gain a following. Also, incorporating a blog can add to your content and draw in more customers.
- Get the app reviewed by reputable tech websites and review sites of your niche.
- Push your app to all your existing business customers and offer some promotions to make them download and spread the news.
Building an app can be risky and costly, but if done right the benefits can greatly outweigh the costs. While it is difficult to always know exactly what a user wants from an app, avoiding these common mistakes can give you a leg up in a world saturated with apps.