The increasing ubiquity and use of smartphones provide businesses today with a unique opportunity: the ability to be ever-present and ready to serve customers through a custom mobile app. However, while a well-functioning mobile app can be a true asset for a business and its customers, a poorly designed one can be worse than useless. If your business releases an app that provides a bad user experience, doesn’t offer the features or functionality customers are looking for, or frustrates them with lags and poor performance, it can damage your brand’s standing.
It’s important for businesses to carefully review the wide-ranging factors that go into a well-designed app, from the target users to the devices they’ll be logging in on—and everything in between. Below, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share essential considerations for any business that’s developing a new mobile app.
1. The Target Customer
As with most things, get customer feedback as quickly and as often as possible. Additionally, the key to outsized success is to concretely establish the target customer. Doing so can streamline and accelerate decisions about the app design, functionality and features and help you attain the target customer value the app is meant to provide. - Punit Shah, EZ Texting
2. The Needs Of The Target Market
A business should validate the customer’s need for a mobile solution in its target market before jumping on the mobile app bandwagon. If there is a need in your target markets, you must then think about three things: how the app will help amplify business value, how it will increase user adoption/installation and how it will help improve the customer experience. Lastly, focus on the performance of the mobile app. - Poorvi Shrivastav, HubSpot
3. The Value For The Business And Customers
What needs will be fulfilled by developing a mobile app? Businesses need to ensure they’re adding value to the customer experience as well as showcasing their business in a new dimension. If a business simply wants its website converted into an app, sometimes investing in a responsive design or Web app can be a better choice. - Hadi Ganjineh, Super Energy Corp.
4. Integration With Existing Processes
Identify how launching a mobile app can help you to cut down operation costs and time, improve customer service or help to grow your revenue. Once you take care of that, make sure you start with the design phase. That will help you to prepare a clickable mobile app prototype and work through the app’s logic, thereby clearly outlining how it will be integrated into your business processes. - Alexey Semeney, DevTeam.Space
5. ‘Why,’ ‘What’ And ‘How’
User experience engineering is the one thing that businesses must take into consideration when developing a mobile app. This encompasses research, design and engineering and aligns them, respectively, to “why,” “what” and “how.” These are of critical importance in mobile app development because of such challenges and concerns as device capabilities and capacity, performance, and ease of use. - Vishwas Sutar, Lowry Solutions
6. Ideal Features For Each Target Persona
The user experience design stage is critical for the success of an app; however, it is often overlooked and under-resourced. Having a solid UX discovery process to identify the ideal set of features for each target persona is the key to delivering an engaging app. It is also important to keep optimizing the UX with a solid continuous improvement program to ensure the app remains relevant to users. - Rafael Gracioso Martins, LK Group
7. What Customers Are Most Excited About
Don’t get carried away by the “exciting” features that you have in mind and believe are important and put them first in your app’s user experience. Deeply engage with your customers and learn which key features of your application they’re most excited about—that is, the ones they will use most. Then make sure those features are accessible in the most convenient way. - Eric Trabold, Nexkey, Inc.
8. Security And Privacy Requirements
One thing businesses must do when developing a new mobile app is develop a clear understanding of security and privacy requirements. It is crucial to practice security and privacy by design as opposed to an afterthought. Security should be baked into the software development life cycle, not bolted on at a later stage. Follow the best security practices and requirements of relevant frameworks. - Bob Fabien Zinga, Directly, Inc.
Creating a seamless user experience is the top goal when developing a mobile app, but a one-size-fits-all UX doesn’t exist. First, ensure the app addresses customer needs in an intuitive way. From there, developers must prioritize accessibility by designing apps to be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. These guidelines ensure platforms are available to everyone regardless of their abilities. - Brett Wheatley, TransLoc
It’s essential to truly understand what is most important to the user. For most business apps, customers want a very simple and fast experience. Adding additional features can be a detriment rather than a positive for your users. I recently asked users what they wanted most in a business app, and most of them said, “Get me in and out as fast as possible.” This was especially true for non-happy-path parts of an app. - Laureen Knudsen, Broadcom
Portability is essential for a mobile app. It is the difference between an experience that is helpful and educative—even uplifting—and one that is frustrating and pointless. Enterprises need to design their apps with global compliance in mind, including data privacy regulations and adaptability to varying bandwidth conditions (for optimal function in areas of low cell service, for example). - Thomas Cottereau, SightCall
12. Speed And Performance
Focus on the speed and performance of the app. The top reason users delete an app is that it takes too long to load or crashes during use. So keep speed in mind right from the start, and keep testing your app’s speed every step of the way. Even subtle lag times between screens can lead users to be unhappy with your app. - Øyvind Forsbak, Orient Software Development Corp.
13. Customer Loyalty
As a mobile app company, we work with customers every day to put together a mobile development strategy. A good mobile app helps you improve the customer experience and build brand awareness and can become an effective communication channel for your customers. We also incorporate loyalty programs in our mobile apps to help increase sales, build customer loyalty and increase customer satisfaction. - Manish Mittal, OpenSource Technologies Inc.
14. Competitors’ Offerings
Analysis of the target market and competitors must be taken into consideration. It is imperative to identify your actual audience and their interests to figure out what they are looking for in an app and how your app can add value to their lives. An analysis of your competitors will help you understand market dynamics and trends, which will benefit you as you work to come up with an app that will stand out in the market. - Roman Taranov, Ruby Labs
15. Long-Term Support And Costs
A mobile app is not something you build as a monument to a moment in time. It is a garden of features that are constantly being planted and tended to maintain quality. Plan to continue investing in the design, the backing services and the support methods, especially if you want the app to become a major touchpoint for your users. Factor in the long-term costs when you start the journey. - Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket
16. The Variety Of Devices In Use
Not everyone has the newest iPhone. Make sure the UX is pressure-tested on all phone devices. It's a simple step, but it's often overlooked. - Meagan Bowman, STOPWATCH