Mobile App Planning: 8 Things You Need to Do Before You Start
Planning an app in advance is an important step for the successful development of a mobile app. Poor planning and lack of strategic vision are two of the main reasons for failure when entering the market.
It’s wonderful if you have a great idea, since this is where it all begins. But in order to make the idea a reality and do it well, you need to spend time on preliminary preparation. Mobile app planning increases your chances of releasing a high-demand product that will fully comply with project specifications, without going beyond the agreed time and budget.
Here are 8 things you need to do to create a really good mobile app development plan that will help you in your work.
1. Define your app objectives
Many decisions – for instance, which functions will be available in the app and which technologies will be used in the development process – are dependent on your goals. Still, in the beginning it is necessary to abstract from the technologies, and get answers to the following questions:
- Why are you making this app?
- What user problem will it solve?
- Why will users want to use your app?
- How are you going to get the very first users and attract new ones?
Clearly setting goals allows you to get a clear idea of what exactly you have to do. If you have several goals, set priorities to know where to start.
2. Who is your target audience?
Understanding for whom you are doing all of this is of vital importance. At this stage, changes can be made to the original concept based on the needs of your future customers. Through research and interviews, one can understand whether the basic concept needs clarification and what people really expect from you.
Try to get answers to the following questions concerning your future users:
- their age, gender and location;
- which platforms they prefer to use (iOS or Android);
- which of their needs your product will help to solve;
- if it is possible to divide the target audience into several categories;
- what functions will be most important to them.
You can get information through analyzing forums, conducting surveys, creating focus groups and via limited testing with the real users’ involvement.
3. Analyze related apps
Nowadays, it’s difficult to come up with something unique, and often you can find apps on the market that are somewhat similar to the idea you are going to implement. It is important to learn to take advantage of it, using potential gaps in the market as opportunities for development.
Find similar apps and analyze them well to understand:
- How successful they are and why people use them;
- Whether they are being developed or make no headway;
- What their competitive advantages are;
- How their creators make money;
- What they lack and whether it is possible to do something better.
Thus, you can bring to the market a product that implements familiar functions in a slightly different way and which offers users great value. This stage of app planning can help determine valuable competitive advantages.
4. Think about the technologies you will need
Proceeding from the basic functionality and requirements of the app, you can select a technology that will be used for its development. This includes the choice of the platform (iOS/Android), frameworks, a list of connected APIs, etc. What is difficult to do with a single tool can be a simple task when using an alternative solution.
Make a list of tech requirements. For example:
- will the app collect and store any user data?
- are the device’s hardware capabilities going to be used?
- are any payment making options needed?
- is any internal integration with other services planned?
The planned functionality of the app can directly influence decisions about the choice of development technology.
5. Identify a minimally viable solution set
Not many people can boast having unlimited time and money, so don’t try to do everything at once. Instead, release the app with the most necessary functionality, and then add new features through regular updates.
This will help you enter the market faster, get users’ feedback, and then provide them with those new features that will be really useful. More information about this model of work you can read in our article “Minimum Viable Product (MVP): what is it for and how to do it right“.
6. How you will attract users (and earn)
Think what you plan to do in order to increase the number of users. What are the marketing strategies/steps? Perhaps you’d like to make a video, do some promotion, or simply create pages on social networks. Also, you need to determine who will work with all these tools, publish information and follow the statistics.
Are you going to monetize your app? You can make it paid or free with in-app purchases (IAP). You can earn money by showing in-app ads and come up with other interesting things to get profit.
7. Independent work or outsourcing
Work on the app may require the involvement of specialists from different fields, and there is no guarantee that you have all of them in your team – for example, a designer or someone to prepare content (text, videos, images). If hiring a specialist is unjustifiable from a financial point of view, some of the work can be outsourced.
By dividing the directions between outsourcing and in-house specialists, you can cope with the tasks in less time and with less money. In this context, it is worth paying attention to Ukraine, which provides ample opportunities for IT outsourcing.
8. Prepare the final document
After you have gone through all the steps listed above, it’s time to systematize the information in the form of final conclusions. It is quite possible that the resulting document will differ from the original concept, but there is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, now you will clearly understand what you need and how to proceed.
We are talking about the document in particular, because keeping everything in your mind or in the form of rough drafts is counterproductive. Information should be systematized by formulating even ambiguous or contradictory points in the form of clear theses.
Preliminary planning of the mobile app simplifies communication between all interested parties and allows you to make the work more efficient, as you will be able to clearly follow the plan outlined earlier.