Coinciding with recent growth in smartphone usage, mobile apps have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. In 2009 alone, there were roughly 2.5 billion fee-based mobile apps downloaded, and that number is projected to reach nearly 270 billion in 2017. But, the large quantity of downloads also suggests that apps often fail to keep the interest of their users. Data shows that over 90% of an application’s activity occurs within the first six months after the download.
The question becomes: how do you add staying power to an app? More precisely, when you’re developing a new app, what should you avoid? What are the common mistakes? According to app design and development agency Nomtek, most app slip-ups fall into one of two categories: process-related mistakes and business-related mistakes. Let us analyse these in more detail.
Designing an app before understanding the business fully is one example of a process-related mistake.Even if an app seems like a good idea, there is no guarantee that it will make money. The app may fail if it tries to solve a problem that does not exist or is not as significant as first imagined.
Another possibility is that the app attempts to solve someone else’s problem instead of the user’s problem. However, the success of an app truly depends on its ability to address the user’s problem directly. In other words, the app should delivery value within a short time after being installed. For most apps, this means within a couple of days.
When considering user acquisition, another frequent mistake is assuming that the app will go viral. Unfortunately, few apps actually attain this level of success.
Developing an app without a fully planned out design is another process-related mistake. For example, let’s say an entrepreneur hires an app developer and briefs him about the general plan and uses for the app. If the developer does not fully understand the business or user perspective well enough, the final product will be flawed and ultimately end up failing.
A third process-related app development mistake occurs when the designer does not set and meet measurable goals while implementing a project.
Delaying the pursuit of app monetisation and ROI
Many application developers believe that once their user base grows, the easy part is generating revenue streams. It is common to believe that an app with numerous users will earn money through ads, the sale of market, or through a high stakes acquisition by a big company, such as Google or Facebook.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many apps get stuck before they meet their desired growth and market recognition metrics, which in turn leads to financial hiccups and the inability to pivot after gathering data from the app’s initial users.
For example, even though the organizational app, Springpad reached over 5 million users, it ran out of money and was forced to wind down in June 2014, six years after its initial launch.
“We built a heck of a product, but we failed to build a business,” Springpad CEO Jeff Janer, said. Springfield turned out to be too reliant on providing users with valuable data before earning on micro-transactions. Besides, Springpad proved less efficient than Pinterest in adapting to new rules brought about by the mobile apps sector.
Even brands like Twitter can suffer from lack of a solid monetisation plan. Despite their unquestionable market position, Twitter still struggles to determine the best mix for generating sustainable profits. Recent layoffs and the appointment of new CEO Jack Dorsey, prove that creating a successful app-centred business is quite a challenge, even for big players.
Giving up too quickly
Many app developers endure a roller-coaster experience, with many ups and downs along the way to gaining traction for a product. It can be difficult to determine the number of pivots necessary to reach the desired product-market fit. Many founders stop investing in their product and claim failure, only to later see a similar idea featured by Google Play and the AppStore as the app of the month.
Finding the appropriate balance between being persistent in pursuing your vision and knowing when to stop is critical to success. If recent trends and projections are any indication, the popularity of mobile apps will continue to increase. However, as the demand for apps drives the ever-increasing supply, and consumers are presented with more options that competing for their attention, it will be crucial for app providers to avoid some of the common mistakes discussed above, if they want to build apps with staying power.