We wanted to share some lessons learned in our years of experience in iPhone application development to help you and your organization avoid some of the common mistakes developers make – before you build an app.
Trying to Be All Things to All PeopleWhen developing your app, determine both business and users priorities, and then design the user experience around those priorities. Are you trying to drive revenue? Build engagement? Educate? Keep these goals in mind as you make decisions around your app’s features. Just because a cool api or tool is available doesn’t mean it’s right for your app. Excessive or unnecessary features can bog down your app’s performance and distract from its primary purpose, so keep it simple and focused.
Avoid trying to build the next Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Focusing too much on how you can build the next big thing may cloud your judgment. Instead, focus on what your target audience wants and needs, and how you can give it to them. Try to have a specific goal for your app, and a purpose. Building an app just because your competitor did, or worse, because “everyone else is doing it,” is not enough to produce a unique, useful, app.
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Inadequate TestingTesting is a critical component of the app development process, and one that deserves ample time and resources. You absolutely must test your app, across a variety of devices, before release to ensure that everything works according to specifications. Many companies make the mistake of inadequately testing their app before shipping to market. This can lead to unexpected problems and unhappy users or customers.
Some common testing mistakes?
Not testing in multiple environments. You should test your app on actual devices — both current and older versions as well as Testing using a simulator. Testing in only one environment is almost guaranteed to prove problematic, since different devices generally use different versions of the operating system, and your app will work differently in each.
Not beta testing with users. Beta testing can be an important step, and should be performed with testers who are part of your target market, not just people on the development team or internal volunteers. Seek feedback from users who will actually be using the app, and learn how to incorporate their feedback. Look for themes and common challenges, and avoid making changes because one or two people have an issue.
Getting Too Cute With the DesigniPhone users have certain expectations of their apps. They expect a certain design aesthetic, and for apps to respond in a consistent way. By following iOS Guidelines on how to use the standard user interface elements, you can prevent confusion and allow users to rely on their previous experience to learn how to use your app.
For example, avoid using standard buttons and controls to mean anything other than what they usually do, and stick to standard conventions when it comes to controls that perform common actions, such as Refresh or Trash.
We do recommend creating an interesting and unique user interface design but that can still be accomplished while balancing iOS Guidelines and common iOS conventions.
Not Having a Robust Marketing PlanThe only time that you might not need a marketing plan is when you are developing an in-house app for your business, that won’t be made available to the general public. But even then, you are going to need to sell your team on the benefits of the app and why they need to use it — exactly what you would need to do if you were putting your app in the App Store.
Because there are hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store, you need to be thinking about how you are going to market yours and differentiate it from the competition from the very start. Who is your target audience, and where will you find them? What messages will resonate with them? How will you share those messages? By determining those answers from the start, you have a better chance of your app finding (and keeping) its audience, rather than languishing unused.
Creating a successful app requires strategic planning, creativity, and of course, an understanding of the technical aspects of app development. By understanding some common pitfalls that have tripped up other app developers, you can avoid them and have a better chance of success.
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