If you have got an idea for your future app, this is already great news. However, before you start developing it, you have to assess how viable the potential product is and whether it is worth spending time and money on its development at all.
If you ignore preliminary analysis and the information-gathering stage, you may end up with a large number of impediments, and then, the work on the product may turn out to be unprofitable or you will not be able to complete the project.
Here are eight questions that will help you make the right decisions, and it is worth asking them before you start developing an app.
1. What is the app development objective?
Is it an internal product aimed at improving the efficiency of business processes and optimizing employees’ work? Is it a startup meant to win a large market? Is it a tool used to increase existing customers’ loyalty? The answer to this question will greatly influence future development processes.
A successful mobile app solves a specific problem, and that is the main argument for people who will potentially become its users. Besides, it may turn out that there are already quite good tools used to solve this problem, and you will have to think about how to make your product better.
2. Do you understand the target market?
If you are an expert in the area where your future product will be used, it will not be difficult for you to answer this question. On the other hand, if you do not understand the market well enough, it would be best for you to attract a professional who is sufficiently experienced in this niche.
It can be either a partner (co-founder) or hired advisers who are able to assess the idea’s potential and possible risks.
3. Who will you compete with?
If the niche is promising and full of a solvent audience, competitors have probably tapped into this market already. The idea that “we are the first to do it” is not sensible, as it may never line up with reality.
Compare the functions provided in the competitors’ apps with your future product capabilities, and think of possible ways to stand out from them. Remember that a competitive environment is always alright if your offer is more interesting and makes consumers lean toward your app.
4. What is the main target audience?
To make a successful app, it is important to understand who will eventually use it. You have to acquire basic knowledge about your users at the stage of the market research, and now, it is time to start delving into details.
You can segment the potential target users by creating several user profiles based on criteria such as:
- demographic data (gender and age)
- geography (region, one or more countries)
- potential interests
- their motivations for making decisions, etc.
Based on this data, it will be easier for you to prioritize, practically test your interaction with each of the groups, and identify the most promising segments.
5. How are you going to attract users?
If, like many other developers, you focus exclusively on the development process and forget about the necessity of attracting users, you will get trapped. The App Store and Play Store have hundreds of thousands of apps, and your app can easily get lost among the variety of products offered. Consequently, your marketing effort may require a considerable budget.
If you cannot answer this question, you have to involve specialists with relevant expertise who will make appropriate analyses and be able to provide accurate advice on:
- what advertising channels are worth using
- what minimum budget you have to allocate
- what other resources you will need to reach your objective.
6. How do you make money?
If you develop your app with a purpose other than to address your own business needs, it is necessary to know in advance how to make money from it. These are the most common monetization models:
- paid download
- in-app purchases (real and virtual)
- freemium model (fees for advanced features)
- advertising model (display ads)
- access to content by subscription.
The mobile ecosystem is currently becoming more complex and diverse, so we can expect new ways of monetization to appear. They can be a combination of the business models listed above.
7. Do you have a documented description of the required functionality?
You have to at least create a list of basic functions and sort it by priorities. Each function has to meet certain requirements. This approach will eliminate the need to explain each step to the developers and will allow them to make an accurate estimate of time and budget.
If the development process remains open and there are too many unknown conditions, there is a substantial risk that you will get something different from what you expect.
8. What about wireframes?
If you already have at least a minimal wireframe, estimating the time and budget costs necessary for app development will take much less effort. Moreover, if you have a detailed prototype, software engineers and UX specialists will be able to make necessary adjustments before they start working on development, resulting in minimal changes in the process.
It is best to prepare such wireframes before the development starts, and it is possible to do it independently by using the tools we wrote about in the article “5 Excellent Wireframing Tools for Mobile Apps“.
We can sum up this article in one sentence: you have to answer these questions before the app development process starts. If you skip this step, your development may be doomed to failure.
This list is by no means exhaustive and many things depend on the specific type of project. However, these eight things are widely applicable to work done on most mobile apps.