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Our Guide to Developing a Mobile App

Date
30 Sep 2021

Author
Laura Jones

So why does your company need a mobile application? Mobile apps have the potential to become the game changers of their field. They have the ability to bring down the well-established companies and propel the new players to the forefront. 

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In 2021, mobile apps are projected to generate £506 billion in revenue via app stores and in-app advertising.

So why does your company need a mobile application? Mobile apps have the potential to become the game changers of their field. They have the ability to bring down the well-established companies and propel the new players to the forefront. 

Just Eat changed the eating habits of many. Uber completely disrupted the taxi service industry. Netflix turned the world of movies and tv series on its head and Spotify transformed the way we consume music.

Website browsing is on the decline. The amount of time spent hooked on our phones and in our apps is continually rising. Last year, there were more than 204 billion app downloads. That’s roughly a 6% increase from the year prior. 

Don’t create an app just because everyone else has one. Pinpoint the unique selling points of your app. Determine its intended purpose and outline how it will add value to you customers.

Case study

British Drift Championship

BDC

Native and Hybrid Apps, what’s the difference? 

So you’ve got a killer idea? Now it’s time to decide whether to go native or hybrid? Every developer has a different opinion on this. It boils down to this: Hybrid apps rely on the power of the internet browser. Native apps use the processor of the mobile device directly. 

Native mobile apps tend to perform better. However with that comes a longer build time and require more resources. It is near impossible to say definitively which approach is better overall. The decision has to be based on careful considerations over each projects specifics. Below we have outlined a few details to help you in your decision making. 

Consider Native if:

  • Your app needs to run fast, smooth and on all devices (older and new)
  • You plan to include animations or any other demanding design elements 
  • Perfect user experience is paramount 
  • It is a game, photo or video editor app

Consider Hybrid if:

  • You want to rapidly test an idea for an app and the final production version can be realised later down the line
  • It is a fairly simple app in terms of inputting data
  • The app will only be used for a short amount of time, for instance, at a festival or a conference. 

Native App ProsNative App Cons
Great performanceHigh development cost
Makes use of all functionalities of a phoneLengthy download process
Works offlineTime consuming
Provide recognisable look and feelRequires frequent upgrades
Hybrid App ProsHybrid App Cons
Fast development for both platforms at the same timePoor performace on older devices
Cost effective, one build is required for all OSNot suitable for some app types
Cross-platform, wider market reachBrowser needed
Easier to maintain/updateSlower performance

If you’d like to read about native & hybrid apps in more detail, check out this blog post.

IOS vs Android

Next up, we want to talk about the development differences in the Android and iOS app development process. We put them up against each other for an easier comparison.

IOS AdvantagesIOS Disadvantages
Performance – IOS is a more stable and easy-to-use platform. This is a closed platform where Apple creates all of its software and hardware, which allows implementing more strict guidelines.App Releases – The app store has rather rigid review guidelines which means that your app can be rejected due to vulnerability, poor performance, or a lack of useful content.
Integration – There are only 20 types of IOS mobile devices, in contrast to Android that has a thousand mobile phones with numerous kinds of systems, with more abundant rules.Customisation – Due to a variety of constraints enforced by IOS. customising an app becomes challenging. This lack of flexibility can also affect the app’s popularity, as all apps must follow design guidelines that make it hard for an app to stand out from the crowd.
Intuitive UI/UX – When evaluating the benefits, the satisfaction of IOS users can’t be ignored. Apple has developed a detailed design guide for app UI to help developers deliver an exceptional user experience.
Android AdvantagesAndroid Disadvantages
Open System – Android is naturally open to more of the inner workings of the system. This accessibility helps developers to create and apply features that would probably be restricted by IOS.Testing – Given the multiple Android devices and versions, QA specialists have to spend more time to throughly test apps on all models.
Flexibility – With its open-source software, Android offers developers a low barrier to entry. Developers can utilise various crowdsourcing frameworks and plugins and play around with the features and functionality.Cost – Due to the fragmentations and. large amount of testing required, it may cost more to develop in this platform. Still, it depends on the app’s complexity.
Design – Googles extensive developer guidelines to design are pretty helpful in building an aesthetically appealing layout and intuitive Android user interface.Fragmentation – There are a multitude of devices with different resolutions and screen sizse to take care of. This makes the pp design and UI development much more challenging.
Release – In contrast to IOS, publishing apps is easier and quicker on Google Play.
Fragmentation – Android allows creating app for a wider range of hardware such as wearables, streaming devices, TVs, in-car systems and more.

It is clear that there is no evident winner. When weighing the pros and cons of Android and iOS development, you need to first assess such factors as a business idea, budget, time to market, and others. The key thing here is to set personal preferences aside and decide on what works most efficiently for your project.

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How will you market your new mobile app? 

The process for marketing your app can be split into two sections. Before the launch and after the launch. 

Before The Launch

Product Launch Process

Market Research – Before you launch your app, you must know who will be using it. This is where market research can help tremendously. 42% of apps fail due to poor market research. By collecting the following data you can greatly reduce the risk of your app failing by making sure you are targeting the right people:

Buyer persona – Create a profile of your app’s potential user, with as much detail as possible.

Competitors – Identify apps with similar features that currently dominate the market. Identify what they are missing and what advantages your app will have over them etc

SWOT Analysis – (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Define the strengths and weaknesses of your product. After that, identify the opportunities that you have on the market against your competitors as well as possible threats that you can get from them.

You can conduct market research in the form of online polls and surveys, interviews, focus group and phone surveys.

Optimise the app store page – Make sure the app will be perfectly visible in App Store and Google Play. Its page needs to be visually appealing – offers users attractive and informative screenshots.  For example, Netflix offers a screenshot alongside the app’s benefits such as “Save your Data. Download your favourites to watch on the go”. Apply the SEO principles when writing the app’s description.

Blog Content – If you haven’t already got one, start one, publish articles and updates about the apps progress, create a buzz around the app. Furthermore, identify communities and websites that your target users are following closely and offer guest posts promoting your brand to those websites. 

After The Launch

Social Media – After the launch be sure to stay present on social media. Social media is a perfect way for a brand to connect with its customers and reach out to new audiences. Efficient social media marketing can help you to not only retain existing customers but also get new ones. The choice of a social network for your post-launch campaign depends on your purpose. Facebook is good for community building, Instagram is perfect to create visually appealing content, whereas Twitter has proven to be an interactive platform to acquire users. Be sure to create different content for each platform and not just cross-post your Instagram posts to Facebook.

Encourage App Reviews – App users are 8x more likely to download a highly rated app of an unknown brand vs a poorly rated app from a known brand. Ask your users if they’re enjoying the app. If yes, then ask to write a review; if not, then leave an email or feedback form where they can describe their concerns. However, don’t ask too often and don’t ask for a specific rating.

Product Awareness Process

E-Shots – Your new app needs to be engraved into every aspect of your marketing, that includes all of your emails. As a business, you will send out countless emails and not including your app in each of those is a missed opportunity. Any email that is sent out, whether it be from your tech support, your newsletter or even the payment confirmation email should include a footer with one line advertising your app. Include details such as what can be accomplished through the app and a link redirecting towards the download page. Emails still have their charm provided they’re used under the right circumstances. According to Hubspot, “99% of email users check their inbox every day”. Capitalise by incorporating your app links into newsletters, customer service emails and also make it a habit to use it in email signatures.

Is a mobile app future proof? 

So, you want to future proof your app? Is that even a thing? Is it possible to build an app that can confidently face the future, without ever requiring updates? The biggest problem with the initial definition of “future proof” is that the app would “never require updates”. The apps that maintain their relevance and are really future proof are those, that continue to get worked on (or at least maintained) all the time. It’s really not possible to build an app that is completed once, submitted to the app store, and then never returned to. At least, such an app can’t remain effective and relevant.

As you know, the business environment we work in is constantly changing by its very nature. Nothing is stable. New versions of Android and iOS are released each year, usually rendering some old functionalities obsolete. The rules change all the time and each time, the successful product needs to adapt. What worked before may no longer work with the next update. An app developer can’t guarantee that once a project is completed, it will last you just as it is for many years to come. We’d love to be able to do that, but it’s simply not an option. There are external factors that are beyond anybody’s control, that we cannot influence, but only adapt to.

Think of it like this – a new house built and abandoned, if left unattended and unmaintained for a year, well, you get the picture (spider webs, dust, damp, and maybe worse. The longer it’s left the worse it gets). Pretty much the same will happen with any app that gets built, submitted to the App Store and then left unmaintained. By utilising the latest versions of libraries, plugins, modules, language updates and frameworks and with proper maintenance your app can continue to be successful for years to come. 

Why choose Reach Studios to develop a mobile app? 

Our development team will assist you throughout the journey. From the initial strategic meetings and concept stages to development testing and app store launches. Reach Studios centre the whole relationship and process with our clients around an agile methodology. Reach personally pioneer in development quality and high standards. We have a specialist for each process in the application project.

The team have developed award-winning mobile applications on iOS and Android along side the likes of companies such as Lush, Honda and Marks & Spencer, and have produced educational-based iOS applications for multiple businesses. In addition, we designed the user interface and developed the user experience for the iOS version of the award-winning NHSX application. We recognise that in this current digital age, mobile app technology is a constantly evolving. Therefore, we are there to advise on every step of the way. This is to ensure your project is on the path to success.

So,  if you’d like to contact our experts about an upcoming mobile app development project, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Just drop us a line for a no-obligation chat.

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