The Five Deadly Myths of Mobile App Development
By Kate Abrosimova
Although mobile app development is no longer new, there are still many misconceptions about app development. Some beliefs are merely misguided; others are flat out wrong.
When businesses and entrepreneurs waste time and money on an app that nobody uses, it's generally because they've bought into the five deadly myths of app development.
Avoid these five deadly myths and get the most out of your mobile app.
Myth 1. Users and Customers Are Synonymous
App developers talk about "users" more often than they talk about "customers." A user is any person who interacts with a product. A customer, on the other hand, is the particular person that an app serves. There is a significant difference between these two individuals.
When app developers think about users, they're thinking about the "user flow" and "user experience." User flow and user experience are very important, but they don't address an app's primary business problem. What app developers should ask themselves before they even start designing a product is why people would want to download it.
Figuring out why people should download an app requires a thorough planning phase, during which app developers should concentrate on research and analysis of their target audience. They should determine goals, needs, and wants of the people they are building an app for. Only when armed with this information can app developers design a product that their customers truly desire.
Building products for customers—not for users—requires a shift in thinking. But, with a customer-centric approach, app developers can consciously design products, services, experiences, and systems that their customers will value and use. Customer-focused design helps developers refine their ideas and build truly successful products.
Myth 2. Mobile App Development Is About Writing Code
A lot of myths about mobile application development stem from misunderstanding the changing nature of the technology market. A few years ago when the market for mobile apps was just emerging, launching an app and getting people to download it was relatively easy. All you needed to do was write a bit of good code and design some nice screens.
Today, developing a successful app takes more than just a bit of knowledge about iOS and Android technologies. Entrepreneurs are looking to build solutions that will bring them a return on investment (ROI).
The way apps generate revenue varies across industries. In app development, it's hard to make the right guess about whether an app is capable of generating revenue until it appears on the market.
App developers must understand not only programming technologies but also must understand the market to ensure ROI for mobile apps. Capturing the interest of consumers takes much thought and a careful strategy.
Today's app development is about creating successful products. Successful products are built through continual improvement, refining growth strategies, and measuring results.
Myth 3. As Soon as People See Your App, They Will Download It
The most successful apps in the App Store and Google Play store look amazing. But, beautiful design alone doesn't make apps successful. Their value proposition does. We can define a value proposition as the promise an app makes: It's what the app claims it can deliver. A strong, well-articulate value proposition is what drives downloads.
People buy things because they want them, not because they need them. This suggests that compelling design can incentivize people to take action. This where this myth of mobile app creation comes from. But, focusing strictly on graphics may distract app developers from a larger goal: delivering actual value. A value proposition can be broken down into three parts:
- Demonstrating an app's unique benefits.
- Explaining how an app solves a customer's problem or improves their life.
- Differentiating an app from the competition.
Visitors do pay attention to graphics on an app page on app stores. But, what really attracts them is value. If the value isn't visible, visitors will go away no matter how beautiful the product may look.
Myth 4. The Idea Is Everything
A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs believe that ideas are the key to success. It's a hard truth to bear, but ideas are worthless on their own. What matters is how you breathe life into those ideas.
There are three factors that app developers need to consider when looking to build a sustainable product that's capable of generating revenue. They are:
- The right timing
- The right market
- The right place
In other words, successful apps are products that fit their markets.
But product/market fit is about discovery, not certainty. It's like playing roulette. For example, if Twitter continued building features to support their early audience—status-updaters—they would have missed out on much larger markets.
Myth 5. Once the App Is Launched, You Can Sit Back and Relax
Launching an app is like starting a business. Cutting the ribbon is only the beginning. For a business—and an app—to persist, they need to grow. If they don't grow, they fail.
Even though a lot has been written about the importance of developing an MVP (minimum viable product) and about the virtues of iterative product development, many app developers still don't quite follow this methodology.
People get attached to the features they want to develop, which makes it difficult to see past the details and identify the core idea of an app. An MVP validates an app's idea by testing the app on its target audience. The purpose of an MVP is listening to users and adapting accordingly. An inability to adapt has killed a lot of startups. Many could have survived had they not been blind to how their products were being used in the real world.
An app's growth can be deceptive if you measure the wrong metrics. App developers should figure out what exactly it means for them to "grow." Does growth mean increasing the user base, satisfying loyal users, making a larger profit, or developing innovative technology? Once the goal is set, app developers should measure the effectiveness of their strategy by using analytics and user testing.
With relevant data on hand, developers can define a recipe to measure the success of their applications. This way, no myths of mobile app development can be a threat for app developers.
About the Author
Kate Abrosimova is the Director of Content at Yalantis, an app development company. Also, she is a tech journalist. She is also a poet and loves all things art-related.