Whether you are a sporting event, brand, media outlet or budding entrepreneur looking to be the next Uber, building an app – if you haven’t already done it – is probably high on your radar. In this opinion piece, Conn3cted CTO Glenn Murray tells us what questions we should ask ourselves and our software partners when developing an app.
As CTO and strategist, I have had many organisations and individuals approach me about building an app to support their brand, business activity or launch a start-up. Without exception, the first question to ask is always “Why?” – why do you need an app (where does an app fall in Maslow’s hierarchy)?
Why is critical because without having a clear goal or benefit to your customers or business, your app will fail and you will often spend a lot of money and not achieve a great deal.
1. Be clear and understand what you want to achieve
An app, like a website, is rarely a set and forget proposition so you should really invest the time in understanding what you need and what your strategy is.
One of the toughest problems you will need to solve is – why would your customers download the app and secondly, why would they keep using it?
Ask yourself the questions:
* What are you trying to achieve?
* Do do you really need an app?
* Is a mobile app the best way to achieve your goal?
* Will it improve the customer experience?
* Why would they download it?
* Why would they keep using it?
At this point it may be a good idea to engage a partner to help you develop a technology strategy, one that will help you develop your idea, focus on the problem and provide guidance.
Once you understand the “Why” and have identified that there is a business benefit to building an app, you will need to create the customer experience.
2. Design a great experience
A great idea and strategy needs a great customer experience as a key success factor, as both creative and technology should be part of the design process.
Creating compelling and enjoyable experiences when developing software is best achieved through collaboration and teamwork – in many ways, it could even be considered a social activity.
* Involve the customer
* The app needs to be simple and easy to use.
* The app should be intuitive
* You want users to become advocates
* Reduce friction
Today, the most important aspect of a great customer experience is adoption. Your project might be on time and on budget but if you don’t attract users or your users hate the app, then you will not succeed.
To really drive adoption, your app needs to improve the life of the user in some small way and be integrated into their personal workflow without creating friction.
Think about the payments process with Uber, completely frictionless as no money is exchanged at the point of sale.
3. Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
An important part of developing an app is to limit features to a Minimal Viable Product – or the minimum set of features that will bring your business benefit.
* Focus on the important features
* Prioritise requirements by business benefit
* Get regular feedback
* Forget about the bells and whistles (for now)
The MVP can be communicated through a series of user stories, that are user centric (ie. written from the users point of view) and non-technical.
By focusing on the key MVP features, you will reduce the code that needs to be written, the testing that needs to occur and the documentation needing to be written. There is a tangible financial and risk benefit to the delivery of your app using this approach.
Through MVP, you will realise your business benefits faster and won’t overspend on “nice to have” features that can be delivered incrementally at a later stage.
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