A Nielsen forecast revealed 1 in 2 Americans will have a smartphone by Christmas of 2011 – a dramatic increase from the mere 1 in 10 Americans with smartphones in the summer of 2008. And with more consumers using smartphones daily, more people will be using mobile apps. But before running off and creating a mobile app, consider the following.
1. What platform(s) will my app operate on? While it is ideal to develop an app for all available platforms, including Android, iOS, iPhone and iPad, budget limitations may only allow for development on one platform. If you need to choose just one, we recommend starting with iOS. iPhone and iPad both run on iOS – so the app will work on both. Additionally, the app can be converted at a later time to run on Android if desired.
2. Is my app content intended to be self-contained, or do I want app users to share content from my app via social media? Determine whether you intend to incorporate sharing functions in order to properly plan and budget for app development.
3. How often will I need to update/revise my app’s content? If your app requires regular updates, you will need to assign this responsibility and establish a streamlined process to ensure your app is effective and current – without requiring too many resources to diminish its marketing value. Depending on the type of content and functionality, you may be able to program existing software to directly feed updated content to the app. However, someone may have to input updates manually.
4. What are the primary goals my app will achieve and what value will it add to users? Developing an app with a focused purpose will deliver better results and be much simpler to manage. Try to choose a maximum of 2-3 things you want your app to do really well rather than complicating usability with too any features.
5. Will my app be paid or free? If you choose to offer a free app, determine how you can structure it to drive revenue or even charitable donations, which can translate into positive community relations and brand awareness. If you can determine in advance that your app will have an associated cost, you can offset some development costs and potentially expand the budget to achieve a more complex app.
6.How will I drive users to download my app? The mantra, “If you build it, they will come”, does NOT apply to apps. Just as critical as having a strategic approach to app development is developing a strategic marketing plan to support the launch of your app. Consider how you can use email marketing, publicity, social media, direct mail, guerilla marketing and even advertising to drive app downloads.