Having an App has become something of a business standard. Apps can be a great way to connect with customers, streamline business practices, or improve communication between your staff.
Starting the app process before you have a firm grasp on what you actually want—and need—that app to do will only result in frustration and a half-baked product.
Often, it’s best to farm out the creation of your app to a specialty firm. It’ll save you the headache of juggling your workforce to find someone who has the skills while not taking them away from their primary job.
Finding the right agency, or the right freelancer, means that you need to get a few things sorted to ensure the best-possible product.
Set clear goals
There are no apps that miraculously work out. Before you start, know: why you are making an app, who will be the user, and what they will use it for. These might shift during the creation process, but know what you need going in. An app is a tool, designed to serve a function. If it has no goal, or purpose, it’s best to scrap the project now and go back to the design phase.
Think through the design
Mobile devices are ubiquitous, and enterprise apps are replacing cumbersome, old programs. Design, and usability, should be at the top of your list of priorities. If you have an app that can do exactly what your business needs but it is a joyless slog to use, the app is a failure.
If there are features that are essential, or some that would be nice, clarify that to the designer. Set out understanding designs, features, and functionality in a way that the priorities are clear so that you don’t keep piling on a streamlined product.
Set realistic deadlines
If you have a week to get out an app, it’s doable. But you must have a conversation with different areas of your business to understand what is essential and what can wait for v2.
While what designers and developers do may seem like magic, the truth is that they spend a great deal of time wire-framing, designing, and coding. Getting realistic timeframes means engaging them in an honest conversation before you get started. Having that tough conversation early will save plenty of headache later.
An addendum to this list: find out if your agency does the work in-house or outsources. There is nothing wrong with either preference, however having the work be done close-by may save you from having to chase down pieces in the future.
Consider how you’ll review
Just because an app has been completed does not mean that it’s ready to deploy; a great deal of testing will be required. Testing in a small team is a great way to get some feedback on the work that has been done. Select people with different technical skills and use cases to ensure that all areas of your business will be covered. QA upfront will save you significant problems on the backend.
Decide who owns the app
Owning your app can be a good thing: you may be able to monetise it in the future to get some return on your investment. If you go this route, ensure that you have all of the code, have the agreements clearly spelled out in your contracts.
If you leave the app with someone else, they will be responsible for upkeep and updates, along with continuing to expand the potential market reach. You may miss out on expansion opportunities but you’ll also be relieved of up-front costs.
Ultimately, you need to do your homework before you engage an agency. Providing a clear approach will help everyone come together to create the best-possible outcome.
In a future blog we’ll look at ways to make your app stand out. If you’re in the process of having an app created, or have one already, what are some of your challenges? Drop us a note in the comments below.