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The 10 Most Common Mobile App Development Questions Answered

 

Mobile strategy, specifically mobile app development, is a priority for many businesses. Bringing an app to market requires substantial research and strategic planning. When you begin the process, there are several questions you need to consider. Understanding the following ten questions will help guide your decision-making process and determine the appropriate mobile strategy to achieve your goals.

Is a mobile website good enough?

When it comes to deciding whether to build a mobile app or a mobile website, the right choice depends on your business objectives. If your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to a wide range of people, then a mobile website might be the way to go. Mobile websites can be a cost-effective way to put your content into the hands of your audience; however, users have high expectations for quality and functionality that mobile websites sometimes can’t deliver. Users can become easily frustrated when faced with performance and usability issues. Factors like load times, small images, lack of information, and network availability all pose the same problem: users have to work too hard to interact with your brand.

 

Mobile apps are an excellent resource for engaging, interacting, and communicating with your customers. An app can be a personalized communication tool, leveraging user interests, location usage behavior, and more. Over time, your brand can drive amplified customer loyalty with personalized, in-app content.

 

In many cases, you may decide you need both a mobile app and a mobile website. If done correctly, it can be a strategic and valuable choice. In short, when it comes to your brand’s mobile strategy, it’s not a question of a mobile website or mobile app, but perhaps applying a two-pronged approach.

 

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How can I validate my app idea?

Proof of Concept (POC), Prototype, or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) are the three main ways to validate an app concept. Aside from validation, they also offer added benefits, including eliciting new ideas and areas for improvement, client and stakeholder involvement and making sure the entire team is collaborating towards the overall goal throughout the project lifecycle. If you want to enhance your product launch and increase the likelihood of product success, using one or all of these techniques will help you avoid common mistakes, from faulty features to an app that has no space in the market. Each method is individually advantageous when appropriately used, whether you’re looking to test fundamental business concepts, win over stakeholders, or validate marketability.

 

Proof of Concept (POC)

 

Approach: Is the idea feasible? 

 

Implementation: Developing a POC is the quickest and most accurate way to validate or invalidate assumptions about your target users and app concept. 

 

Mobile App Prototype

 

Approach: How will this product function? 

 

Implementation: Mobile app prototyping is a form of user research to validate the strategic design direction of a product. A prototype is a preliminary visualization of a working product. Prototypes build an understanding of the mobile app’s look and feel, which helps test how customers use and react to the overall user experience (UX) design. Using a prototype for usability testing gives you enough time to make changes to critical design issues before the product reaches development and it’s too late (and too expensive) to make significant changes to the UX. 

 

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) 

 

Approach: What are the product’s core functionalities and value proposition? 

 

Implementation: A mobile app MVP is a minimal and usable form of your complete product to release and test in the app market. The MVP development method allows your team to learn how the product’s target users experience and respond to the app’s core business purpose. Using the insight and learnings from real users, you can allocate your time, effort, and budget to areas that best satisfy your overall business objectives. Building an MVP is an iterative process designed to identify user pain points and determine the proper functionality to address those needs over time. 

 

Exploration and experimentation using these techniques will produce better results, and above all, help you to create a product that is valuable to the user. With a better understanding of POCs, Prototypes, and MVPs, you’ll be able to avoid app development mistakes by testing for feature validity or market viability to ensure product success.

How will my app make money?

Choosing the right mobile app monetization model is imperative to the success of any mobile app, and consequently, can negatively impact the overall user experience if you choose the wrong strategy. How do you generate revenue without compromising the overall quality and user experience of your app?

 

Selecting the model that is right for your app will depend on a variety of factors, but you need to establish your monetization strategy before you launch your product. Business objectives will dictate the approach your product employs. At the basest level, you need to consider what your app does. Some monetization models will lend themselves to particular types of apps. For example, the subscription model works best for services like music, and video streaming, news and entertainment, and other apps focused heavily on content. In-app purchases, on the other hand, are lucrative for free-to-play games and apps centered around products, like shopping and retail apps.

 

Careful consideration of how you will monetize based on your product type, your user base, and market intelligence won’t guarantee profitability, but it increases your chances of success. The most common app monetization strategies are:

 

  • Advertising based
  • Pay Per Download
  • In-App Purchases
  • Freemium
  • Subscription

 

Regardless of the app monetization model you choose for your application, remember that it is not an afterthought. Your business plan should include your monetization strategy from the beginning. The last thing you want is to invest in a product that has no practical model in place for generating revenue.

 

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Should I choose Web, Native, or Hybrid development?

Again, depending on your business objectives and overall product goals, this decision can make or break the success of your mobile strategy. Deciding to build your mobile product as either a web, native, or hybrid app involves a variety of factors for consideration. 

 

Native Apps are for specific platforms making them fast and responsive. They are considered to have the best performance and have the best overall user experience.

Advantages of Native Apps

  • Native apps deliver the best performance of all three development approaches.
  • Native apps receive complete support from app stores and the overall app marketplace. Distribution in app stores helps with discoverability.
  • Native apps are interactive, intuitive, and run more smoothly in terms of user input and output.
  • Native development allows developers to access the full feature set of the selected operating system.
  • The user experience of native apps is far superior to web apps or hybrid apps. To the user, the flow is more natural because of each mobile operating system’s specific UI guidelines and standards.
  • A native app must be approved by its own operating system, which assures quality, security, and device compatibility.

Disadvantages of Native Apps

  • Native apps use difficult programming languages that require experienced developers.
  • Expenses are more costly upfront for native apps compared to web or hybrid apps.
  • Native apps are not the best option for simple applications.

 

Web Apps are easier to build but are often much slower. Web apps are not recommended for a company that is looking to develop an interactive and intuitive experience.

Advantages of Web Apps

  • Web apps are relatively easy to maintain because they use a joint code base across multiple mobile platforms.
  • Web apps can be built for all platforms as long as they can run in an appropriate web browser.
  • Compared to native apps, web apps are less expensive upfront.
  • Web apps don’t adhere to standard operating system protocols and don’t require approval from the app marketplace; they can be released at any time and in any format.
  • Updates to web apps don’t need to go through an app store, meaning the user doesn’t have to manage updates manually. The newest version always loads when a user opens a web app.

Disadvantages of Web Apps

  • Web apps have a much smaller scope when it comes to leveraging device features and hardware.
  • A browser is required to run a web app. Users have to take more steps to use a web app, whether that’s searching for the page or typing in a URL. Either way, more effort complicates the user experience.
  • Users interact with different web browsers, and as a result, the usage patterns and performance metrics used to create a product roadmap are more challenging to collect.
  • Unless a web app marketed well, web apps have poor discoverability because they’re not listed in the app store.
  • Web apps are slower and much less responsive than native apps.
  • Web apps are less interactive and intuitive compared to native apps.
  • There are fewer branding opportunities with web apps. An app store listing presents an invaluable opportunity to convey an app’s unique value proposition.

 

[Infographic] A Guide to Mobile App Development: Web vs. Native vs. Hybrid

 

With Hybrid Apps, you have to contend with issues that stem from both native systems and web systems, which makes fixing bugs more difficult. Performance is also a disadvantage because hybrid apps load in webview. Additionally, the more customization you want within your hybrid app, the more expensive it will be, and therefore, a native solution may be more cost-effective.

Advantages of Hybrid Apps

  • Hybrid apps don’t need a web browser like web apps.
  • Hybrid apps have access to a device’s internal APIs and device hardware.
  • Only one codebase is needed for hybrid apps.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Apps

  • Hybrid apps are much slower than native apps.
  • With hybrid app development, you’re dependent on a third-party platform to deploy the app’s wrapper.
  • The more customization the app requires takes away from hybrid development, which costs more money that can be saved with native app development.

 

Although the initial cost may be higher with a native app, you’ll end up saving a lot of time and money in the long run. By offering a great user experience, better performance, and leveraging the device features, you’re able to provide your users with a more personalized experience.

 

[Infographic] A Guide to Mobile App Development: Web vs. Native vs. Hybrid

Should I outsource mobile app development?

When you’re starting with app development, many companies have many items to consider, the first being who is going to build the product? Outsourcing mobile app development comes with experience and expertise, early adopters in new trends and technologies, and flexibility.

 

The demand for mobile apps is growing every year, and many internal IT teams are unable to keep up with the rate of change. There will always be a limit on what can be accomplished by an internal team in a given timeframe. If your company already has many internal projects on the go, outsourcing for development may be the best option to ensure your project is prioritized correctly.

  

Resourcing and recruiting talent is among the top challenges for enterprise app development. Many times, enterprises don’t have the required bandwidth for in-house app development, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify and hire for the required roles in building an app.

10 Signs You Should Outsource Mobile App Development

  1. Mobile app development is not your enterprise’s primary business function.
  2. You need to invest in additional infrastructure to accommodate app development.
  3. Your internal IT department is busy with existing priorities.
  4. Your existing team doesn’t have the requisite skills.  
  5. You need to hire new talent for mobile app development.
  6. There isn’t enough time to properly train new hires.
  7. You can’t commit to the long-term management of maintaining or updating an app internally.
  8. You would prefer to spread some of the risks.
  9. You need to manage the budget carefully.
  10. You would instead not commit internal resources to manage the project. 

 

Mixed-sourcing is a practical option for delivering mobile apps. Companies can leverage their internal teams in areas where they excel and outsource for additional expertise.

What is agile development?

 

The app development process is not linear, and an agile methodology allows for flexibility and adaptability. Agile is an iterative process in which features and requirements are built, tweaked, and approved before the project reaches completion. Each iteration, or sprint, will end with a small part of the final product. This style of development will allow you to review progress before the project is finished. It would help if you familiarized yourself with this method of development, as many organizations practice agile to some degree.

 

Learn More: How To Scale Agile in Enterprise Environments

What should I look for in a development team?

It’s smart to choose a vendor that focuses specifically on mobile app development rather than offering it as an ancillary service. These firms typically employ an agile development methodology, emphasize product strategy and UX/UI Design, and have strong technical capabilities and specialized platform knowledge.

 

When you are evaluating a development team, it’s essential to look at their portfolio. It would be best if you look at relevant case studies and verified reviews from credible sources. Also, ask for examples of previous work. The best way to determine if a potential team is the right fit for your project is to find out if past projects have met the expectations of clients they’ve worked with before.

 

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Which is better, manual or automated testing?

With manual testing, you get visual feedback, and it’s less expensive in the short run. You also get real human input as you’d get from your actual user base, which is very valuable. Manual testing is best suited for exploratory, usability, or ad-hoc testing.

 

Concerning exploratory testing, the tester’s knowledge, experience, logical skill, and intuition is necessary. Human ability is required to execute the testing process in this situation. Human consideration is also critical for usability testing. This type of testing is the area in which you determine how user-friendly, convenient, and capable the software is for solving user pain points. For this type of test, manual testing is the best option. In an ad-hoc testing scenario, there is no specific approach because it is entirely unplanned. The insight and knowledge of the tester is the only significant factor for this type of software test.

 

With automated testing, you get speed and efficiency, reusable tests for code, and better visibility into app performance. Automated testing is the preferred solution for regression, performance, load testing, and repeated execution. It’s a good idea to ensure that your app receives both automated and manual testing.

How do you plan to maintain your app post-launch?

After you’ve launched your app into the market, your project isn’t finished. You will still have to release updates, fix bugs, add new features, and improve functionality. In other words, you should consider your app as a living product that needs continuous attention. It’s essential to have a plan in place to maintain the stickiness of your app.

 

Once you’ve launched your app, you should monitor analytics closely and identify areas where you can provide more value. You need to analyze screen flows and evaluate how users move through conversion funnels. By paying close attention to these metrics, you can determine how to expand your product to optimize lifetime value. An app cannot remain static and still be successful. Make sure your app can evolve as user behavior changes.

Why is a Product Roadmap Important for Mobile App Development? 

A product roadmap addresses the now, next, and later of your mobile product. A roadmap creates a collective consensus for the direction of the product and helps determine the level of investment at each future stage of development.

The Product Roadmap Now

The initial phase of the product is considered the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP includes only the features that are required to take the product to market. MVPs follow a build-measure-learn process, which allows you to learn how your target users react and experience the product’s core functionality. From there, user research identifies what features to include to address evolving user needs over time.

The Product Roadmap Next

The next iteration after the MVP includes features to support the pre-existing functionality of the mobile product, as well as any new features that can add distinct user value. The launched product should continue to address all business objectives and provide insight into the success rate of the product roadmap. This phase also continues to collect data about user engagement patterns.

The Product Roadmap Later

The later phase of the product roadmap is for future iterations of the product and includes new features to build out the ideal functionality of the mobile product. Again, this phase addresses all business objectives and provides useful insights to guide product decisions further.

How much does it cost to develop an app?

The cost to develop an app depends on a wide variety of factors ranging from project size to technical complexity to your choice of a development partner. 

 

Proper planning and management are essential to combating scope creep, containing development costs and ensuring you achieve your expected return on investment (ROI). There are three central areas to manage from early conceptualization to subsequent releases of your mobile app. Managing these three areas give you more control over the cost of your project: 

 

  1. Connecting product features and functionality to user pain points during product design and discovery
  2. Guaranteeing those features are built without error during development
  3. Directing the inevitable changes that occur in development back towards achieving the original product goal

 

Mobile app owners who diligently oversee these three areas of development are in the best position to fulfill user needs and maintain satisfaction over time. Also, this approach to product management helps retain development costs while delivering on the overall business purpose of the application. 

 

For a more in-depth breakdown, we’ve written at length about the factors that will impact mobile app development cost in our post: Managing Mobile App Development Costs: 3 Essential Considerations

 

It’s impossible to overlook mobile, and before you start an app development project, you need to give thoughtful consideration to what type of product you’re building, how you will maintain that product, and how you will drive revenue.

 

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Annie Dossey

Digital Marketing Manager