The following is an excerpt from our new Guide to Mobile Apps for Business, a PDF written specifically for business owners that may be interested in developing a mobile app and want to brainstorm how that might play out for their venture.
This post is modified from the original PDF so it can stand on it’s own, but I encourage you to download the full document to get the whole picture of how to successfully develop an app for your business.
An app is never finished, only abandoned
Have you ever went to download an app and realized the last time it was updated was years ago? Did you hesitate to hit the download button? In that moment you might question whether it’s worth downloading it when this is the ultimate, unsupported version.
When you’re developing an app, you should recognize that people expect it to be updated, to grow and evolve with them. They want to discover new content, new interactions, or feel like the experience is dynamic in some way.
If you’re committed to making an app for your business, it’s beneficial to think about the ways it might evolve over time. Here are ways you can iterate an app for continued growth and innovation:
Optimize for current functionality
Optimizing your app is the best place to start when considering how to improve your app after releasing it into the world. Once you have your app up and are engaging your users regularly, bringing them delight or bringing you better processes or more active customers, now you can learn how well they are taking to your mobile experience.
Set up analytics in your app to understand who your users are. Learn how long they spend using your app, how often they come back, how they move around in the various screens and states, and more.
Before adding any new features, fine-tune your app for it’s current features. How are they performing? Can any tweaks be A/B tested to learn if the changes make any significant impact on the various metrics you’re tracking?
By being able to track these metrics, you’ll be able to find out whether those using your app are going about it in the way that you intended. Your user’s mental model of how to move around the screens may be different than yours or even the people that tested an MVP version of it. If so, you might want to identify where this creates problems and change the flow on the next release.
Add features based on user feedback
If it’s time for you to add new features to your app (after you’ve perfected the one thing it does exceptionally well) here are ways to learn from your users.
Ask your users to rate your app from within their app experience, but make sure not to do this too early, before they’ve been able to adequately assess all of what your app has to offer. Get the timing right, and possibly incentivize it in some way, and you’ll be able to get some critical insight into what your users think about your app, how it performed based on their expectations, and potentially what they wish it also would do.
You can also go to Google to find out if people are talking about your app in other online venues. Have any online publications written about it? Follow up and see what the comments are, and make sure to answer any questions if you can. You can set up Google alerts to notify you whenever there’s a mention of your app so you can be swift and present for these kinds of conversations.
Again, listening to people and empathizing with them, while understanding and committing to your business goals is key to the longterm success of your app.
Utilize new technology
Technology is always changing, that’s what makes it so exciting! We’re seeing a proliferation of novel interactions and experiences via our devices – ways of creating, interacting, and sharing we’ve never seen before. It would be wise to expect this trend to continue as we move into the future and your may want to take advantage of these for your app.
Every new smartphone gives us the potential to create richer and more varied app experiences. Plugging into new API’s can open up novel features and interactions. With virtual reality, augmented reality, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and more coming to the forefront, it may be useful to consider what kinds of new technology your app should be leveraging in the future.
Keeping your app fresh using contemporary technology will show your users you are committed to being a technology leader that is willing to participate in creating ever more useful and/or interesting experiences.