Many of you are big-time KFC fans, right? Take a minute out and think – can’t you make the same crispy fried chicken at home too? Most of you would say ‘no’ – because KFC adds those ‘secret herbs and spices’, to make its chicken taste, well, ‘out-of-the-world’. Rest assured, there is no magic potion from Mars that those guys use, to give your gastronomic juices a treat – its all common stuff, and the magic happens due to the expertise of the chef. In today’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT) we will compare the role of a mobile app developer to that of a cook. The former tries to develop great apps, the latter guns for lip-smacking delicacies. There’s no rocket science involved for making a good mobile application, all that’s required is following these ‘secret’ strategies:
- Research, Research & Research Some More – If you have an app idea in mind, the first thing you need to do is find out whether/how many similar apps already exist in Play Store and/or iTunes. Learn how these apps have been created and designed – and use this information as a frame of reference. Of course, if your app is something totally unique, you won’t have such earlier examples to check out.
- Go for a ‘better’ app – Ever wondered why a perfectly good app might fail? The reason is simple: there is no dearth of such ‘good’ apps in the market – your focus should be on making ‘better’ ones. Study the functionality, speed, information, controls, overall UI designs and other features of similar applications – and find out how you can deliver more value than them. After all, you need to give your target audience valid reasons to switch over to your app!
- Develop an app that people will need – Let’s go back to our KFC example for a bit. You are absolutely ravenous and have ordered an 8-piece chicken bucket – and what arrives on your table is a pitiful 3-piece chicken strips. You won’t be mighty pleased, right? The same goes for mobile app development as well. You need to find out the exact types of apps that people would like to have on their smartphones (surveys, emailed questionnaires, social media interactions – all help in this regard). Your app might be an amazing piece of programming wizardry – but if there’s no demand for it, you’ll be the only one admiring it!
- Accept the challenge – Developing good-looking, useful, user-friendly mobile apps is not the easiest task in the world. Neither is making fantastic fried chicken, day in and day out. Have you ever heard of a chef resign because (s)he was afraid of trying to learn how to whip up new dishes? Similarly, you need to be prepared to get out of your comfort zone – while making apps. At leading cross-platform app development companies, you might be required to work on an iOS project to start off, and then be switched to an Android project. What will you do, give up?
- Ask the experts, always – Keep pestering them, in fact. If you are a newbie, you’ll have loads to learn from an experienced coder, graphic designer or a mobile app testing expert. While working on the project, try and learn up the nitty-gritty of the programming techniques that would have to be used from them. The same goes if you are into UI/UX designing or testing. Ditch that shyness – it never works at a workplace. The more you talk with the experts, the more you learn.
- Maintain milestones – Back to KFC. You must have noticed how organized the people at the counter of the outlets are. They’ll take your order, print out the bill, pass it to another person, collect your payment, make sure that your tray is properly laden, add the sauces, napkins and straws, and then, hand it over to you with a smile. In much the same way, you have to be very systematic when you make an Android/iPhone app. Maintain records of the stage of app development you are in at any time (right from the initial brainstorming phase), keep a record of the codes used (including the errors you might commit), and share the wireframes and mockups with clients. This would prove advantageous in two ways: First, you will always be in charge of the app development project; Second, collecting timely payment installments would also be easy.
- Don’t attach a ‘too’ high price tag – A 6-piece chicken bucket at KFC costs around Rs. 500 – and everyone believes that it is indeed ‘finger lickin’ good’. Let’s consider that the price of the same bucket is raised to Rs. 1000. Worry not – almost everyone except the hardcore KFC fanboys/girls will switch over to another shop. No matter how good your mobile app is, you must not make it an exorbitantly high-priced one. On an average, 9 out of 10 iPhone apps are free – with monetization being done via in-app advertisements or other models. Even paid apps are priced at nominal levels. Do not make people think too much as to whether it would be ‘financially worth it’ to download your app. Getting a decent enough user-base should be your first goal.
- Quality matters, always – Once you are served a bad piece of chicken, you won’t return to that store. Similarly, if a client gets a substandard app from your company (after paying a hefty amount), there’s precious little chance of him/her coming back to you with another project. Follow the latest, pre-tested methods for developing smartphone apps at all times. Stay updated, and implement, all the mobile industry best practices. Every aspect of the app development process should be glitch-free. Set up periodic consultations with clients, and find out whether the app is being developed according to their exact preferences. You should, of course, avoid extra expenses as much as possible – but that should not involve a compromise on the quality front.
- App testing should be done by specialists – If your mobile app agency does not have a separate testing department – kindly do not accept projects until you have got one. An app developer might have some knowledge about testing – but such half-hearted efforts would never be enough to ensure that all bugs/coding errors/malware are ironed out from the final build. In a app development firm, the testers are as integral as the developers and the designers. A faulty app would not have a sniff of a chance of getting approved at Apple iTunes (in particular).
- Live up to your promises – Again, take a leaf out of the KFC book. In all their ads, and at their stores – visitors are always promised a grand eating experience. Hardly ever (there can be odd cases here and there) do they fail to deliver what they promise. By the same token, you should stay away from making tall promises you cannot live up to. Provide free app quotes (without hidden charges), mention (and meet) the deadline by which the app will be completed, and pre-specify the amount of expenses that would be involved. People love companies that do not brag much!
- Make the app engaging – This is particularly important if you are making a gaming app or a mobile app for kids. The secret behind any successful mobile game is that it is (a) not too difficult, and (b) generally never-ending. Right from Angry Birds Go, to Flappy Bird – most top-rated gaming apps follow this principle. A mobile application for children needs to capture the little ones’ attention in terms of its interface designs, touch features, information content and the way in which it is presented, and ease of usage. Business, news and social networking apps need to have loads of interactive features as well. Remember just the one thing: the in-app navigation should never become too complicated.
- Promote the app well – Open any leading English daily, look around at the hoardings at any posh city location – and you will find large, colorful ads of products/services of both established brands – as well as of those which have not yet released. Once a mobile app project finishes, it becomes a ‘product’ – which you will have to generate a buzz about. Post first-look updates of its screens on social media, write press releases highlighting the new app’s features and functionality, and keep posting online/print ads after the app has been approved. Maximum exposure for your app maximizes the chances of initial downloads.
Keep seeking feedback on your apps from clients (just like restaurant stuff ask if the food was good) – and monitor the reviews/testimonials posted at the app stores. Do not charge additional amounts on app updates (ever heard KFC charge money for some extra ketchup or an extra fork?). Make sure that the bandwidth requirement of your app is not much. All the above factors are far from being ‘secret’ – but many developers/companies tend to overlook them, resulting in the app-recipe getting all tangled. Don’t be one of them!
And that is about that for this week’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday. If you have any other ‘secret’ tips to ensure an app’s success – do share them with us. ABT returns next week…till then, stay happily zapped with great apps!