“A Mobile app can be a great way of building a nice ‘shop front.’ A wonderful well designed, well thought out app can create a delightful user experience.”
We often get questions from people looking to start a business or build their first app. We thought it might be useful to publish the answers we provide to them, and hopefully this information will be relevant to you as well.
This article is specific to someone looking to have an app built by a professional app development shop, Mobile Mentor or otherwise.
Your App Building Checklist
Have you had a clever idea? Something not yet thought about?
Here is a mental checklist. Make sure you’ve considered each of these.
NDA Before talking about it to anyone, sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). NDAs protect your Intellectual Property (IP). You can find examples of these by doing a Google web search.
Funding How will you fund the development of this app? Apps can be expensive, some of those apps you use on your phone everyday cost over 6 figures to build and then there is ongoing maintenance and development costs.
Scope Most companies you speak with about your idea will be happy to scope the app for you which involves planning the features, the functionality and design of the app. But these scopes come at a cost and the price will start at around $7,000. This is an important step and a good app developer will help you prioritise features in the app and determine who your users are to help design the look and feel.
Design, Build and Testing Who will build this app for you? You may have a mate who builds apps and can spend hours building something that will work but can they support the app ongoing? Or should you work with a company with a reputable brand that will buy into your vision and work with you to make your app a success? After all, if your app is a success, they can celebrate your success with you and promote your app as work they have done on their website and sales collateral. There will be cost differences between the one-man band and the company option, but you get what you pay for.
Information & Integration What will your app connect to? Is it supplying information? Where is this information coming from? Are you collecting information? Where will you store this information? This should all be covered in the app scope.
Monetisation How will you make money off this app? Is it an enhancement to an existing service that doesn’t need to make money such as a banking app? Or is this your shop front? Is this how you receive your income? This all needs to be thought about as once finance and money transfer are involved additional things need to be thought about with the development and the complexity.
Off the shelf apps Some companies provide affordable off the shelf apps that you can tweak yourself to build an app, but by missing item number 3 above you may not be building a very good app.
Operating systems (OS) Mobile devices come in 2 types, Apple and Android which means 2 different operating systems. An app can be built in two ways. Hybrid which means build once and then deploy to both platforms or Native which means building the app twice, once in Apple and once in Android. The native version usually carries a higher cost up front but provides a much better user experience.
OS Updates Mobile device operating systems are forever being updated so apps need to be updating and ensuring they will continue to work on the new OS (Operating system). A good app developer will assist you with this.
Constant development An app is never finished. Think of the apps you use, they are forever being updated to remove bugs, security flaws, add additional features or remove unused ones. Work with a good organisation that wants to continually evolve with you.
Marketing How will you promote this app? Who is your market? How will you reach them?
Technology and features Who will keep up to date with what is new and exciting and can assist your business?
There are Different Types of Mobile Apps
A business app is one that will help you build efficiency in your organisation. It solves or improves a business need through a digital solution. The app does this by presenting and collecting data when and where your staff need it.
For example, a business app might allow workers to submit digital dockets whenever and wherever they are. It may eliminate a slow paper process or allow for more precise and accurate information capturing.
The key to success with a business app is to have it:
Easy to sign into and easy to use
This is where Mobile Mentor specialise. These apps tend to not be published on a public App store but rather via a private business app store which is accessed via a Mobile Device Management platform.
These are the apps you see in the Apple App store or in Google Play. This is where you want an end user to download your app for a purpose. This may be to provide information, provide a service, or to market to them. These apps may include in-app purchases and may need to securely add and retrieve company information to provide to users.
These app will need to be:
Integrated with common social platforms
Fast and ‘defect free’
Supported and actively developed
Consumers are fickle and a bad experience can quickly cause mass-loss of customers. They will expect new and improved features to be part of their experience and many will want to login using their preferred social media account.
Security is important as well, but not to the extent that a business app would be unless the app covers sensitive information
like health data or financial information.
Apps Can Be Developed Several Ways
In addition to purpose, there are choices to be made about how the app is built. Once selected, the cost of rewriting the app in a different codebase can be very expensive.
Native apps are built for each mobile OS: Apple and Android. They must be coded separately and maintained separately.
Native apps have the best performance, have access to all the hardware (e.g. GPS, Camera, etc.), and are generally the first with access to the latest capabilities when a new version of iOS or Android is released.
However, because native apps must be coded separately, there is not a 1 to 1 parity between iOS and Android. Code under the hood is often unique and doubles the complexity.
Hybrid apps are built on a single codebase. There are several libraries that support hybrid development: Flutter (created by Google), React Native (Created by Facebook), Angular, Xamarin, and more.
Hybrid apps reduce costs by only requiring one codebase to maintain. Hybrid apps may have reduced capability for interaction with hardware components, especially the lesser used ones (e.g. Accelerometer, Barometer).
Many major companies choose hybrid app
technologies over native.
Web apps are small Websites that are not very smart but serve a function. They are generally lower cost to build but have limited ability to interact with the hardware of the phone.
A web app can be customer or employee facing and is a good choice when information doesn’t require any native hardware interaction on the phone (camera, GPS, etc.).
App Development Stages
For most apps, the app will not be built to completion in the first iteration. Here are some common app stages when seeking development.
Proof of Concept / Prototype
This stage of an app is an incomplete product. It is the bear minimum to illustrate the concept to stakeholders, investors, and others whose approval you need to move to the next stage.
During this stage, code can be poorly implemented and integrations to outside services can be faked. The core solution should be minimally functional to prove the proof of concept. However, the user interface and other aspects should be very rough – intentionally so – to prevent approvers from getting distracted by the wrong details.
This build should be considered throw-away.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
This stage is a first-release stage and is designed to facilitate user interaction and feedback. This stage must be more polished, and the features are likely to be kept when proceeding beyond this stage.
However, often the MVP will reveal issues, misses, and new ideas so don’t worry about getting everything perfect in the MVP – especially the first one. You will likely perform several iterations from here before reaching your final product.
MVPs are all about failing fast, learning, and moving on.
Full Featured App
This is the big one. This will be your true product. It’s been tested and vetted by real users. You’re now ready to scale it. Costs here will be the higher, but you should begin revenue generation or cost reduction at scale. This will involve ongoing builds along with software development life cycle (SDLC) for your app.
You’ll want to build a product roadmap for your app and seek user feedback on desired features and changes. You’ll want to
budget some money for upkeep and new feature development at this stage.
Amanda is the Business Development Manager for the Wellington South island region. Amanda has relationships with our existing clients as well as working on new business opportunities.
With over 15 years of experience as an Account Manager and Business Development Manager Amanda has built up strong relationship management skills and the ability to understand business challenges and identify how mobility can assist in improving efficiency, safety, security by improving productivity and driving down costs.