We get it — creating a new app can be overwhelming. With so many ideas on the table, things can easily start to get complicated and messy. And after writing 5 Mistakes You Can Make in Development, we realized that developers aren’t the only ones who need a little guidance through the process of, well, developing. So we decided to outline what we consider to be the best process for creating an app that users want, no matter who you are on the team.
Solve a problem
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: the single most important thing to do when creating an app is to solve a problem. Whether this be something that no other app is doing, or taking a common problem and implementing new tools, techniques, and strategies that other apps do not, your app needs to serve some kind of defined purpose. When in the planning stages, make sure your entire team is on the same page in regards to what your problem is. Do not move forward in the process if one person seems to be confused about where the team stands — their confusion could eventually be your users’. Once defined, be sure not to stray from the path. You’ll solve other problems along the way naturally, but don’t start picking other problems off the shelf that will detract from your original goal.
Define your goals
Now that you’ve identified what your users wants, it’s time to identify what you want from your users. Based on what actions you most want your users to take, map out how they might move through and interact with your app to encourage those priority actions. Taking the time to work through how your user moves and thinks, you’ll not only encourage actions from your users, you’ll provide a better, more usable product.
Whiteboarding is an excellent tool that sparks collaboration, promote problem solving, and allows a great amount of flexibility. Just get in front of a whiteboard, have markers available for your team, and start framing out what you want to see and you’re going to get there.
Along those lines, proper time and attention to design means happy customers. That doesn’t just mean creating something pretty and sparkly — it means creating something usable. Often times user interface and user experience (UI/UX) get pushed to the wayside during the creation process, whether that be due to time, budget, or experience constraints. But good UI/UX design can make or break your new products. No matter how well you’ve solved the user’s problem, no one will want to use your app if it’s a pain in the a$$.
The best way to ensure the product you’re putting out is quality? Connect and test with users early and often. It’s better to put several products in front of a small group of users and improve on them over time as opposed to putting a “finished” product in front of all of your users and realizing your foundation has more than a few cracks.
Need some inspiration? Check out this article on Awwards.com, an amazing resource for beautiful and effective design.
One way to make your users feel loved? Stay connected. Since not all users will opt in for push notifications, make sure you have a way to stay in touch with your users. An in-app messaging system or in-app message center will allow you to be in touch with all of our customers at once, as well as give them an opportunity to easily touch base with questions, glitches, or update requests. Not able to support something like that? Make sure you have an accessible email or social media profile where users can reach out, and remind them regularly that you’re there to chat. Making it easier for your customers to connect with you will help establish a relationship, and people love to support things that they feel connected to.
It may seem daunting to into the future when you’re just getting the ball rolling on a new project, but taking the time to plan for the future will make your life easier in the long run. Think about the types of communication and interaction you’ll have with your users along the way and create messaging ahead of time. Whether this be a “Happy Holidays!” pop-up or “Sorry, we’re having some issues” dialogue box, preparing for different messaging scenarios will save you time and energy that could be put toward bigger, better things.
Keep the ball rolling
Speaking of bigger, better things, it’s important to remember that though you may have given yourself a well deserved pat on the back for rolling out your app, your work isn’t done. The best apps are constantly coming up with ways to keep their users coming back through innovation. Releasing updates periodically that can improve your user’s experience and provide more valuable services, increasing your value in your customer’s eyes. No matter your success, be sure you’re committing time to your app post release!
By using this guide as a foundation and following these steps throughout your process, you and your team will be able to stay on the same page, get ahead of the game, and produce something that users truly want.