When you are developing and launching your first app, the task can be overwhelming. Usually, the first apps people launch are simply a learning process that teach them what not to do. While the majority of apps fail, yours doesn’t have to. Learn from my mistakes; these are the top ten things I wish I knew before launching my first mobile app.
Expect Your Development Costs To Double Compared To Initial Estimates
Just like most projects, your costs rarely stay at or below initial estimates. Your development costs can be a moving target, and unanticipated expenses are added all the time. While you can try to plan to the best of your abilities, give yourself a cushion so that you aren’t caught off-guard by increased expenditures. A good rule of thumb is to take whatever you estimate your costs to be, and double it. That’s often the actual price, especially for an unestablished brand launching their first app.
Your App Won’t Be An Instant Success (Probably)
Coding and developing your app is just the beginning of making it successful. There is much work to be done post-release, and if you don’t have a good marketing campaign, your app is doomed from the start. Don’t expect fanfare and accolades immediately after you release your app. You will need to put in many hours of research, create a marketing plan, update often, and continually create new features and options so that users stay engaged. If your launch doesn’t go to plan, don’t give up; it takes time for apps to gain traction.
Learn About Marketing
Marketing cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to launching mobile apps. You should be incorporating your marketing plan well before your launch, so that when your launch date does come, you already have people waiting to install and use your app.
Work With Test-users The Entire Way’
Every feature and update that you incorporate into your app should be thoroughly tested before releasing it to the general public. A/B testing allows you to try out new features to find out which options are ideal. When you offer new options to test-users first, you are able to avoid releasing bugs and difficult-to-use features to users who might stop using and/or uninstall your app.
Don’t Develop What You Want, Develop What The Users Want
Developers sometimes get tunnel vision when they are creating new apps, and don’t take user feedback into account. If you want to solve a problem in a certain way that doesn’t offer what people are asking for, your app will be doomed to fail from the start. Always take user feedback into consideration, for your app as well as the competition’s. When you give users what they want, you will be able to increase your engagement rate, as well as improve your brand’s reputation.
Zutobi, a gamified elearning platform that educates student drivers the best solutions on how to pass their driving test the first time, is a perfect example of an app succeeding after reading and considering all feedback left by users. By reading feedback, Zutobi was able to average 100,000 monthly users by the end of their first year.
Develop An App That Can Handle Growth
When you are developing your app, anticipate growth so that you are prepared for sudden surges in users. If your app takes off but you’re not able to handle the growing pains, all of your hard work will be for nothing. Users have a short attention span, so if your app doesn’t work the first time they download it, most people will uninstall it. By planning ahead, you can have a procedure in place for if and when your app begins to gain momentum with new users.
The Real Work Comes Post-launch
Developing your app is the first step down a long path to success. If you haven’t prepared for marketing, updates, and advertising prior to launch, push back your release date so that you can properly plan for the steps ahead and increase your chances for success. After you have launched your app, the marketing plan you’ve created will be fast-paced and have many moving parts. It’s important to stay on the ball, since the response to your app and your brand post-launch is critical to the outcome of your app.
Launching An App Won’t Take A Few Months, Expect To Work On It Much Longer
Launching an app, from development to release, takes a long time. Give yourself a generous timeline, so that you aren’t rushed into adding unfinished features that will frustrate users and create a poor launch. It’s better to release your app later than to rush things and botch your initial launch. Coming back from a buggy release is much more difficult than recovering from a delayed start.
Knowledge Is King From Start To Finish
When you are beginning to develop your app, become an expert in your field. This statement is true whether you are launching a mobile game app, fitness app, or even driver ed road test app. This allows you to know exactly what is missing in your niche, so that you can properly fulfill your user’s needs. Listening to what people need while learning everything you can about your field will allow you to get an edge on the competition. In fact, you should learn everything you can about the competition as well, so that you are able to fill in the gaps where they are lacking.
Have Fun Along The Way
Although developing and launching an app can be an incredibly stressful process, remember to have fun and enjoy each project. It is often when you are having a good time that moments of clarity strike, giving you the perfect idea to take your brand to the next level.
When you are developing the next big thing, remember that coding and design work is just the beginning. If you aren’t a jack (or jill)-of-all-trades, start putting together your team as early as possible so that you have marketing professionals developing their plan alongside the development of the app itself. And always remember, the people who have succeeded had many failures along the way. Don’t give up right away if something doesn’t work out like you expected it to; if you have a quality app, you can always change your marketing plan or tweak some features until it’s something your users can’t live without.
Author: Tim Waldenback
Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.