- Considerations for developing an app
Before you decide to develop an app, you should make a small inventory to avoid some of the more serious errors right from the start. Consider the following questions and invest some time in researching the answers:
- What is the main benefit of the app, is this clearly communicable and plausible for a reasonably large target group?
- Are there already competing apps on the market that offer the same product usage and have a good usability or a good rating in the App Store?
- How can the main benefit be monetarized to refinance the app development?
- Ensure that the content of your app is accepted by the targeted App Store. In particular Apple’s review guidelines are restrictive and are interpreted by the clerks in case of doubt against the defendant, the app developer.
You should at this point as far as possible access available data material. Monetarization, in particular, is the result of many fantasies of millions of buyers. In practice, however, it is especially the free apps that reach millions of downloads.
- Conception of an app
Maintain the key feature
As already envisaged in the first step, you need what is a USP (‘unique selling point’ = USP calls). In the best case, you have an inspiring idea that is not yet available on the App Store. Often, however, it is also quite simple ideas that make the life of the user only a little easier, the more important the perfect implementation. By the way, the unique feature of the app can also be a much more user-friendly app idea.
In the next step, define a target group and keep an eye on (assuming) wishes and needs during the development of the app in all subsequent design considerations.
Avoid the “Futurities “, ie the attempt to enhance the app by adding more and more features. Apps are quickly becoming explanatory and cumbersome – both absolute KO criteria, which can deter the user or after the first unsatisfactory use, the app can be deleted again.
- Expiration of an app development project
As with the physical development of the product is the most important step in the development of software planning. Any errors and misunderstandings that are eliminated in this first step will save you (and your developer) money in the course of the project. We therefore strongly recommend a structured and well documented process with at least the following milestones in this order:
Create a workbook that shows what the app should do. If the project is technically challenging, you should ask your developers for a specific task book, in which the developer specifically describes how he wants to implement your requirements technically.
Wireframes (for complex projects): visualize the operating concept, i.e. the connections between the screens with optically reduced symbols, to determine for themselves and the developer how the navigation and other functions of the app intertwine
App Developers: use the App Developer Directory to quickly and easily receive offers from multiple developers
Contract with development contract. Pay attention to the following points when drafting contracts
- Determine exactly which operating systems, operating system versions, terminal formats (smart phones, tablets, desktop) and alignments (portrait, landscape) are developed, tested and optimized
- The developer’s services should also include the app in the desired app stores – a serious developer will offer you this automatically because the effort is not insignificant and you usually cannot do it yourself
- After paying the app development, the code should be your property without any restrictions. Be sure to get the source code after payment. This allows you to remain flexible and, if necessary, can also assign another programmer with the further development of the app
- Determine that errors in the app, which are determined only after publication, are free of charge
- If possible, agree on a fixed price and include your draft contract as well as the Developer’s Draft (if created) as a contractual basis
Design: let at least the most important screens be designed purely graphically in order to ensure that the developer meets aesthetically your taste, as well as the content of your task book as required
Intermediate versions: do not wait for the end result, but leave regular intervals to be able to detect possible deviations from your ideas in time. It is also important for the concept test to be able to compare a prototype with the actual product requirements as early as possible. Take your time, at this point again
Beta testing: Test your system for as many devices as possible before the release to detect weaknesses.
- Technical aspects of app development
Native, hybrid or what? Light in the concept jungle of app development
Basically there are two possibilities in the app development: a native development, i.e. it is developed in the language of the target system in the development environment of the provider (eg Xcode for iOS). Advantages of native development are best performance and maintainability. The drawback: You have to develop a new app from scratch for every operating system. Thus, the cost is high.
The alternative is hybrid apps. For these, a uniform code base, e.g. HTML or Java, is compiled via various intermediary programs (eg Phonegap) for different operating systems. This makes it much more cost-effective to cover several operating systems, but at the same time there may be restrictions or losses in the performance, which can be expressed in jerky lists. The design, which in the best case should correspond to the user habits of the respective operating system, is also standardized, and therefore presents the danger of not being equally user-friendly for the different user groups.
Basically, at this point, the question must also be asked whether the app needs a native packaging at all, in other words whether the app has to be submitted to the stores. In many cases it is the cheapest, fastest and most straightforward way to make the content available as a web app. The (and especially with Apple) lengthy and sometimes nerve-racking process, an app in the store to be released as well as the effort of development for several operating systems. The disadvantage of the development as a web app, on the other hand, is that one does not profit from the visibility in the App Stores and has to take care of the payment processing of paid content.
- Design and usability in app development
In the discussion about the content and programming is quickly forgotten that an app, more than any other medium, depends on a high usability. On the small displays is little space available and appropriately thought-out and self-talking the control elements have to be to give the user a pleasant user experience. At the same time, the users are very reluctant to find themselves in an unusual or non-intuitive operating concept.
If your app is of a more general nature and is targeted at the casual user, it is even recommended to implement the app for the various operating systems according to the usual operating concept. For example, the Apple user searches regularly on the upper left of the app its “back button”, while these are on the Android operating system at the bottom of the screen. If you only suggest an app to an Apple user, which can be used by an Android app (and vice versa), it makes him feel frustrated.
Therefore, in accordance with our proposal (see chapter 3), please invest in the development of a mature operating concept of the app, even before you start the development of the app.
The main points summarized for a high usability of app:
- Position of navigation elements: in the best case the menu can be operated with the thumb, while the device is in the hand
- Control elements must be large enough to be safely tipped
- Text is not as easy to zoom in the app as it is in the browser and must therefore be displayed in an easily readable format for your target group
- Less is more: long explanatory texts are taboo on Smartphone’s! Instead, use pictograms – which are also much more advantageous than text for locating other languages
- Marketing for newly developed apps
In iOS and Andorid, there are far more than a million apps in each case – massive competition, therefore, against which the app has to put through.
All stores have therefore top lists, in which the currently most frequently downloaded apps are led. If your app is not a specialized area, but targeted at the mass market, it is strongly recommended that the app be launched with a high initial download rate. Press releases to suitable multipliers are just as good a means as paid ads in the relevant App Store leaders.
An important point is also the optimization of the own entry in the App Store. Since there is only limited space available for titles and keywords, but these have a great influence on being found, it is important to carry out a systematic analysis of the meaningful terms, assess the success with the download numbers, and continually optimize the terms to be carried out. On this topic, we wrote “App Store Optimization “.