10 Things To Do Before Developing a Mobile App

You’ve been thinking about a mobile application that fully addresses market needs? Want to build the product, but there’s one thing that stops you: you have no idea how to change the concept into a functional tool. Wondering where to start and what steps to take to create the application in the most effective way? Read on to learn the essentials before you ask a software house for help.

Here are the top 10 things you can’t overlook before developing a mobile app. Each of these tips is based on agile development approach and focuses on business analysis. Learn about the must-know rules to make the most out of mobile.

Ready? Let’s go!

 

1. Competitor analysis

Knowing the product concept is a great place to start, but you can’t go further without doing a thorough research and analysing competitive solutions.

Here’s the simplest way to do it.

One of the most effective methods is to use a well-known search engine. Google will help you find almost everything you’re looking for, so just enter the right keywords in the search bar and voilà! Let’s say you want to create a weight loss app, you can start your research with these keywords: ‘healthy diet apps’, ‘best apps to lose weight’, ‘nutrition mobile apps’ etc.

The next step is to read all the articles about similar apps without skipping the comments section. Try to find those applications in the most popular app stores and browse the ratings, reviews and user comments. Pay close attention to things that users are focusing on the most. All this will help you create the list of the most and least needed features. You will also see what features currently existing software solutions lack.

Performing such analysis is a perfect way to polish your business model, as well as to understand the pros and cons of existing applications. The more you know, the better product you will create. There’s, of course, a risk that something will escape your notice, but it’s a great first step, which allows you to gather proper information quickly (and it’s free).

All this information also provides a huge value for the product team — they will not only know the product idea better but they will also be able to recommend some improvements straight away. Competitor analysis gives you valid knowledge and helps avoid mistakes in the early stages of your project.

2. Defining user personas

Establishing user personas for your business will make it easier to determine the application features, as well as promote the product when it’s ready. User persona is a fictional representation of your ideal app user. That’s why it should come with a detailed description that includes demographic data, interests, goals, and challenges matching a specific user. To identify the needs of your audience, define 1-3 personas illustrating the best recipients of your product.

Knowing your potential customers, you can determine how your app can solve their problems and help them achieve their goals. Having the weight loss example in mind, you can assume that your users’ problem could be managing their meal plan and its calorific value. The solution could be provided by a mobile application featuring meal plans with recipes, a reminder to keep eating regularly etc.

Let’s assume that one of the personas is a 35-year-old male working in the office, spending hours at a computer workstation. Imagine how he can use your app and benefit from it.

For instance, meals should be easy to make and the best scenario is when the user can prepare food for the whole week and easily reheat it in his office microwave. You can prepare several various scenarios, it depends on the determined goals.

Design functionalities of your application to best suit the needs of user personas. Read the blog by HubSpot to find out how to create personas (with a handy template) and what to focus on.

3. Figuring out if the world wants to buy what you have to sell

One of the ways to quickly confirm that your project meets the needs (or solves the problems) of your target audience is to create a landing page. Craft unique and brief product description and focus on benefits, not features. The thing is to show how the product solves potential customers’ needs. Include a form to make it easy to leave an e-mail address for all visitors who want to stay in touch and get information e.g. about the beta testing.

The next step is to generate traffic to your site. You can do this by running Facebook ads that target specific audience. After a few days you should have a list of e-mail addresses belonging to people interested in your product. If you get the right number of leads read the next tips included in this article.

Note that collecting a group of testers who are even willing to pay for your product is a strong argument for a potential investor. See how the companies like Dropbox, Buffer or AirBnb used this approach —> click.

Are you afraid that someone will steal your idea? Rest easy, you don’t have to put all the product details on the landing page. All you need to do is show examples of your mobile app interface and convey how your potential users can benefit from using it. Still, you’re the only person that has a complete product vision and knows its development strategy.

If you’re not yet convinced to run a landing page, and are still concerned about someone stealing your project, find a market research agency. This solution doesn’t have to be expensive at all, and it can significantly help to confirm the needs of your target audience. To stay assured that your ideas are protected, sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with the agency.

It’s also good to discuss the idea with people you trust — especially if they possess business experience. To organize your ideas and keep the research results in one place, you can use Lean Canvas, a modified version of well-known Business Model Canvas.

4. Choosing the right app monetization strategy

OK, you’ve conducted a market analysis and you already know that your idea solves a real problem of a specific target audience. You’re sure they will want to download the app, pay for it and make in-app purchases. Now it’s time to decide how to make money using the app.

There are four basic ways to monetise mobile applications and your choice should depend on the category your app belongs to. Here are the most common models:

Freemium — Customers can use the basic version for free, but with some limitations. There are extra, paid features in the application that improve its usability. This model is commonly used for apps that boost productivity, sports apps and games.

Paid app — Users are charged for the initial download. Paid applications are usually ad-free. This model is mostly used for mobile games, educational apps and mobile tools.

Ad-supported apps — Users don’t pay either for downloading the app or extra features. The revenue is generated by users that click the ads displayed in the application. This type of monetisation is commonly used in social, entertainment, news, and gaming applications.

In-App Purchases  — Users are using an app for free, but also have the option to pay for extra items in games, movies, e-books or music tracks — depending on the app content.

If you want to know more about what model to choose and how to determine the price of your application this article might help.

5. Goal setting

When you’re contacting the software house, tell them about all the necessary application features and, above all, define its purpose clearly. It will make understanding your vision and creating a plan to make the product that fully meets your needs much easier for the product team.

There are similar solutions on the market already? That’s even better; show them to your team and explain how your product will differ from the competition. The more details, the better. This will help them understand the subject, plan the application development process and evaluate its scale.

6. Product specification

Another thing that should be included in a product brief prepared for an agency is a product specification. It can be delivered in many forms, but one of the best ways is to create an application mock-up, which is a visual presentation of app functionalities on each of its screens. The screens should come with a brief description containing the main goals. If you’re looking for useful tools that will help you create mock-ups, read one of the Mockplus entries.

Mock-ups are the best way to quickly test information architecture, app navigation and functionalities before the programming phase. You’ll have everything to make a complete specification for a software house. This will help them accurately estimate the costs associated with application development.

Don’t know how to design mock-ups or have no time for that? You can create so-called user stories. It’s like telling about your application from a user perspective to describe how the user (persona) utilises the product.

A user story idea is based on a single sentence identifying user’s need, such as the following: “As a [user], I want [what?] so that [reason/value]”. Putting yourself in user’s shoes makes it easier to understand their needs. For instance, you can say: “As a new user  I want to register an account and be able to save my workout sessions”. To know more on how to create an effective user story read Roman Pichler’s entry on that topic.

Make sure you have general description of the app functionalities and then focus on the details. A specification prepared that way and a short workshop organised by the software house make it much easier to estimate project costs.

You can also contact us to share the app idea and benchmark against your competitors. We will then walk you through the entire specification development process — from preparing application screens linked together as clickable mock-ups, through API documentation, to functional requirement specification and the first sprint backlog. Use our form to identify and specify all the essential elements of your app.

7. Figuring the costs

Having an idea for a reliable software application is a great start but implementation presents a whole different issue. Besides, what about the costs? The answer is the ever-annoying “it depends”. We can, however, estimate the costs based on our experience over the years.

For now on we can say that preparing the first version of a single application with basic functionality (so-called MVP — Minimum Viable Product) for one platform, costs about $30.000. The work could be divided into two months, but remember that good software houses are basing their work on the Agile approach so you pay just for the effectively worked hours (the work is split into so-called sprints).

Your budget should include such things as development and maintenance, servers, marketing and customer service. Note that it’s important not to ignore marketing expenses. Keep in mind that the amount you’ll spend on promoting your app should be close to development costs.

The best way to determine project viability is to estimate revenue. You can do this by analysing your competitors — find out how many times and how often their application was downloaded. This data and the right monetisation model is what you need to easily calculate revenue using the App Revenue Calculator.

Note: When calculating profit margins, keep in mind the app store charge commission that can reach up to 30% of revenue.

8. Choosing the right agency

When choosing a software house to work with pay close attention to their experience and approach towards working with a client. An experienced company employs Agile Methodology and Time & Materials pricing model (read more about Agile and T&M) while creating an innovative product. This approach allows you to pay only for the performed work and to avoid getting a non-functional product.

Remember that the software house should provide you with final cost estimation. Usually in the initial phase there is no sufficient data, so it’s surely impossible to determine a specific price. But you should consider given price as a reference point to track and control the expenses on an ongoing basis.

What’s more, if you don’t have a specification prepared, the agency should offer you proper workshops and an application design, which stays in line with your business goals and the best UX practices. You should also pay attention to the technology stack (software and programming languages used for application development). It’s good when, apart from creating mobile applications, the company can also design web apps. This is important when you need an admin panel for your application.

Before you make a final decision check out the agency’s portfolio, their references and ratings (e.g. on clutch.co). Make sure you don’t forget to ask for the CVs of the team members who will be working on your product.

Finally, keep in mind that the software house, that is confident in their knowledge and the quality of their services, should offer you a free trial. If, for any reason, a cooperation doesn’t work out, you can usually terminate the contract after two weeks.

9. Promotional strategy  

Even the best products will not succeed without a proper promotion. It is important to know the target audience before implementing the app. First, create a website and define the USP (Unique Sales Proposition) — it could be one sentence explaining what your app is and what it stands for.

Remember about the ASO (App Store Optimization), which is a process of improving the visibility of your app and make it rank higher in an app store’s search results. At this point it’s important to research your competition again to get a full picture of their activity. It will help you get noticed on the market.

It’s important to make a step-by-step plan to have a ready-to-use product before launching it in an app store. Some say that marketing expenses should be comparable to development costs. This is not a major rule, but there is a proverb: “You have to spend money to make money”. Agency that specialises in mobile app marketing should help you determine your budget. Wondering what to focus on? Here’s a list of mistakes to avoid prepared by Kissmetrics.

10. Development and maintenance

Launching a new product on the market is just a first step in the whole process. Now it’s time to focus on implementing your strategy, measuring the effects, as well as learning, and quickly and effectively responding to changing situation. You’ll need to constantly improve the product, so it’s wise to ask a software house for help with prioritising and turning the MVP into a final product. A well-experienced team will know how to use reporting and analysis tools to get the best results.

As you can see, making a functional application is a process that is almost impossible to run without a detailed specification which will also make it easy to estimate the costs accurately. Remember that to keep ahead of the competition you’ll also need a good strategy.

 

Source From : https://www.futuremind.com/blog/10-things-to-do-before-developing-a-mobile-app

How to become a better developer

You can find many online publications on improving as a developer. In fact, there are so many of them that it’s easy to think the subject has been sufficiently discussed. However, I would like to examine this issue from my point of view.

Everyone is different. Each person needs different amounts of encouragement. Ask yourself a question: “Do I want to be in the same place in six months, in two or in five years?” If the answer is no, check the list below to see my personal choice of path to becoming a better developer.

1. Don’t be afraid of the unknown

It’s natural that we feel more comfortable with things we are familiar with. New means unknown. To embrace it all you need to do is change your attitude. Stop being afraid of new things. Start to be curious about them. Don’t follow the path everybody else does. If you believe that something can be done differently, do that. Don’t be afraid, because…

2. Be hungry for knowledge

I don’t mean that you need to know every JS framework and remember its documentation. What I mean is: learn about mechanisms, design patterns and similar things, go deeper in the framework you already know and use the most of it, learn how it works underneath. Maybe you should learn a new language, or if you are a front-end developer, check the other side — the back end. No, it doesn’t mean that you have to go full-stack. It will simply allow you to know what the back end is capable of, what are its restrictions, why a back-end developer implemented a specific endpoint in that way etc. It will increase your awareness of application software as one coherent system. I believe that this approach will open your mind to new technologies, make you aware of new possibilities and improve your skills.

3. Read Articles

The times when access to interesting articles was really hard are gone. Nowadays, there are tons of articles published every day. I think the most popular place is Medium. You can subscribe to the topics that you are interested in and there are many publishers that you can find there and follow.

I also use Feedly. It’s an app which gathers and organises information on topics you are into. Also, look for other newsletters e.g. JavaScript Weekly, PHP Weekly News, JavaWorld and many, many more. There are plenty of them.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to subscribe to the Future Mind newsletter on project management, design, mobile and business. A new article is posted every week so we won’t spam your mailbox.

I know it’s difficult to remember, or to force yourself, to read regularly. But you can create reminders to read once or twice a week. You can bookmark articles you want to read and get back to them in your free time.

4. Train your mind with algorithmic puzzles

If you have a difficulty with logical thinking or with complex problems, try to solve algorithmic puzzles. Check out the https://www.codewars.com page. Choose your language and start. You can begin from one per day or even two per day. Some are easy, but some are mind killers. After you submit your solution, you can check how other developers solved the same problem. This demonstrates easier, and maybe cleaner or faster, ways to achieve the same goal, and you’ll learn some useful hacks.

5. Master your soft skills

Communication is as important as your programming skills. You can be the best programmer in the world but if you cannot communicate with others, no one will want to work with you. Focus on reporting issues, don’t be afraid to ask questions, make reasonable decisions and be able to defend them. If you have any code-related problems, talk about them, don’t keep them to yourself. This has a big impact on how the project is being developed. You can ask your teammate or another person — one you think is good at communication — to give you honest feedback. Explain that you want to be better in that area. Teamwork isn’t the easiest thing — I would compare it to class naming or cache invalidation — but it is essential in this job.

6. Get to know the product and the client

When you have a better understanding of the client’s needs and the purpose of the project, you are able to make better decisions. Try to think if your solution will help the clients to achieve their business goals. If you don’t know those goals, ask your product managers, they should have asked the client about them, even before the project has started.

7. Be proactive

You cannot go from one task to another and not worry if it makes sense or not. If you think something could be done in a better way — suggest it, recommend another, better, solution. And not only in project-related cases but also in your open space or any other company environment. Make suggestions, show you care about your teammates and co-workers. You cannot, for example, leave the coffee pot empty. Your colleagues will appreciate it for sure.

8. Ask for feedback

Talk to your superiors every six months or once a year and be honest. Ask them about your progress, good and bad things that happened, and work out some conclusions. It will show you the areas in which you have improved and those in which some work is still required.

And the last point is the most important — you must want to improve yourself as a developer. If you do, you are already half-way to success. You’ve got the motivation, you know what to do, so… just ‘implement it’ 🙂

 

Source From : https://www.futuremind.com/blog/how-become-better-developer

The Evolution Of Ecommerce

Today, the e-commerce sector is performing well, but this has not always been the case, especially during its debut. Milestones challenges and key figures a look back at two decades of distance selling on the web.

The end of the 90’s marks the beginning of e-commerce in the sense that it is conceived today. An era that, logically, sees its development linked to that of the web in the worldwide.

In just a few years, the concept of e-commerce is solidifying its foundations, settling in the minds of consumers and generating new issues. We are starting to talk about the competition between “real” and “virtual” purchases and the threat posed by web players to traditional retailers.

The rise of e-commerce development is of course inseparable from that of computing and technical progress that makes computers more powerful and more affordable.

More people, more sellers:

The post-2000 decade will see the statistics of e-commerce panic: sites will multiply, turnover increase and the number of users amplify. All this again thanks to the democratization of the computer and the improvement of the network but also the appearance of new devices (tablets and Smartphone’s).

The growth in the number of e-commerce sites is accompanied by a logical and equally strong increase in e-commerce turnover.

Competition alters E-Commerce:

Who says more e-commerce sites says more competition. It is both harder to be seen, and more difficult to convince the buyer, who now has a huge choice of sellers. The user, for its part, inquires, price comparisons abound and the exchange on blogs and forums. E-commerce sites must therefore deal with two issues.

  • Surpass competitors, on the one hand
  • And ensure that customers are satisfied, on the other.

The face of e-commerce is gradually changing, the focus is on choice, because must “keep” the visitor and thus allow him to find what he came to seek. If the first sites presented dozens of products, the leaders now offer thousands.

The arrival of social networks also offers new marketing opportunities for e-merchants: they can bring their customers into a community.

Never had the means of acquisition and loyalty been so great and powerful. The development of web technology also opens doors to e-commerce sites that can think of new marketing actions:

E-mailing campaigns, targeted advertising, dynamic re-marketing, data driven strategy

What future for E-Commerce?

In 20 years the sector has experienced many changes. And only in recent years, the face of e-commerce development has already undergone profound changes. The real question about its transformation is therefore not whether or not it will happen, but how will it unfold.

The performance of the e-commerce market depends on the structural means implemented and its organization which ensure its sustainable success.

The level of trust of Internet users has thus increased and the number of online sales sites is increasingly important. E-commerce strategies are thus constantly being updated and updated, both in terms of the quality of the services offered and the level of market coverage. Indeed, the evolution of online communication techniques still faces the problems.

How technology is transforming in-store shopping

 

With e-commerce growing at an unprecedented rate all around the world, brick and mortar stores have to work twice as hard to attract customers’ attention. No wonder – online shopping keeps the desire for convenience alive. There are ways to compete with online retailers and create a greater in-store experience, though. And the easiest way to do so is by using technology to their advantage.

As a matter of fact, the industry is already undergoing a digital transformation, with worldwide retail tech spending expected to increase 3.6% to $203.6 billion in 2019. It’s mostly due to the rise of new technologies, changing patterns of consumer behaviour, as well as the influence of companies that put digital first and become true pioneers of the industry.

The response to these changes, however, vary from business to business. One thing is certain – the changing nature of retail is bound to require a tech-fueled and customer-centred approach from the retailers. If they want to stay competitive, that is.

Transforming in-store shopping with technology

Implementing technology just for the sake of it is not good enough anymore. But, using tech solutions to increase convenience for shoppers and franchisees, or gather relevant data to enhance and personalize their shopping experience, is a completely different story.

Collecting and analysing customer data more effectively, leveraging new technologies like AR and IoT, and incorporating innovative payment systems are only a few examples of how technology can transform in-store shopping. In fact, there are many ways for retailers to differentiate from their online competitors.

The use of mobile technology

With software being one of the fastest growing technology expenditures in the retail industry (according to Gartner), online and mobile shopping have become disruptive forces within this sector. Many retailers are adopting data analytics software to manage their stores more effectively and provide an effortless and personalized shopping experience to their customers  – even in real time.

That’s hardly surprising. According to BRP Consulting’s “2019 Special Report: In-Store Mobility“, 63% of consumers rely on mobile phones while shopping in-store to compare prices, search for offers and coupons, and check inventory, among other things. With self-scanning apps, mobile devices can also turn into a POS system and speed up the checkout process while selling on-the-go. The BRP study noted that 44% of consumers surveyed would shop with retailers that offer such a possibility.

These numbers might be the reason why in-store mobile experience is one of the top customer engagement priorities among retailers. Even though many of them have already developed some sort of shopping apps, retailers are now looking at new ways to take advantage of mobile technology. And rightly so.

The biggest Central and Eastern European convenience store chain Żabka is a great example of such efforts. It has been working on two mobile apps – one dedicated to its franchisees (the award-winning “frappka” app), and the other meant for its customers. In the near future, the app will encourage shoppers to purchase products based on the circumstances while they’re inside the store, and send them notifications about any Żabka stores in the vicinity – suggesting that they may be in need of shopping. Both apps align with the company’s digital transformation strategy that is supposed to lead to the creation of “the store of the future” very soon.

Another brand that brings retail to a new level is Nike. Its flagship store in New York is mobile-centred and clients can check out and choose products to be delivered to the fitting room using an app, which is also a source of personalised discounts.

Automated checkout

Coming back for a moment to the checkout process, though, retailers have already been automating it in various ways. For starters, many convenience stores have been using self-checkout machines. However, even though plenty of consumers are expecting a more convenient shopping experience with less human interaction, such machines are definitely not everyone’s favourite.

Yet, the cashierless stores take automated checkout to a whole new level. They use cameras, computer vision technology, and smart shelf sensors to track shoppers and their actions so that they don’t have to wait in the line to pay for what they want to buy. Instead, they can be charged automatically once they leave the store.

That’s exactly how shopping works in Amazon Go stores. Amazon has been a gamechanger when it comes to e-commerce, but apparently, it wasn’t enough for this tech giant. Its cashierless stores are a true novelty – customers can simply enter the shop, pick-up desired items, and leave without queuing or checking out since the payment is automatically made via the Amazon Go app. There are now ten stores open in the US, with reported plans for thousands more worldwide by 2021.

Automated checkout enhances more state-of-the-art technology. Computer vision can be followed by face recognition and thanks to that, customers won’t even need to scan their phones to pay for the products – faces can be matched with their digital wallets. However, at least right now, Western players are not as interested in face recognition as the Chinese. Its popularity also depends on both technology itself (it’s not perfect yet) and customers’ concerns about privacy.

The rise of robots

Not only checkout can be automated. Bossa Nova Robotics raised $29 million for their robots that scan shelves of 50 Walmart stores three times a day to monitor and restock inventory.

Robots can also serve as… shopping carts. It may not sound like a life-changing technology, but a cart that follows a client instead of being pushed and manoeuvred between the narrow aisles makes sense. It is also tested in China, at 7Fresh which is a chain of supermarkets from Alibaba’s competitor, JD.com.

Alibaba’s Hema stores that aim to converge online and offline shopping is another interesting example from China. Hema offers an entirely new experience – their stores also serve as distribution centres and customers who are more accustomed to traditional shopping are encouraged to order online and get all the products delivered even within 30 minutes. Hema is also famous for offering an in-store dining experience which is provided by robots that move ingredients from a shop to the restaurant and then serve the meals. Except for soups, which are served by human servers, so it seems that robots still need to learn.

Improved shopping experience with IoT

It might seem like a distant future, but the truth is that physical stores are increasingly becoming places for experiences rather than purchases. With IoT, in-store shopping can easily be enhanced – and there’s no need to go all the way and build a cashierless store in order to make that happen.

Take beacons, as an example. They allow sending personalized messages and offers to smartphones within their reach, or analysing the routes customers take in the stores in order to display products in a better manner. RFID and GPS sensors, on the other hand, make it possible to obtain more precise data on how the products are stored or handled, and where they are located in the supply chain. This, in turn, helps retailers to ensure the whole process, from manufacturing a product to when a customer buys it, is running as efficiently as possible.

With the global IoT in retail market projected to reach USD 94.44 billion by 2025, it’s only a matter of time before the majority of retailers implements IoT solutions, one way or another. In fact, a few popular store chains in the US, including Macy’s, Urban Outfitters and Timberland, have already been experimenting with beacons, which might be why Internet-connected tech for retailers has now been offered by increasingly more startups (such as Leantegra).

The future of retail is now

Over the last few years, retailers have been transforming brick and mortar stores to meet the expectations of their customers and stay competitive. Fortunately, despite significant changes, physical stores will continue to attract customers – in fact, Forrester estimates that 86% of U.S. retail sales still happen in brick-and-mortar stores.

By using technology to their advantage, retailers are now blending the online and in-store shopping experience to provide new value to their customers. Still, in order to be successful, those in-store solutions have to work seamlessly. Otherwise, the lack of assistance might become problematic – if there’s an issue with the software, customers often feel irritated (even though many of them expect less human interaction while shopping).

It might be difficult to maintain the right balance between automation and making your customers feel special and taken care of, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Actually, it may be necessary to keep your brick and mortar store up and running for years to come.

Source From :  https://www.futuremind.com/blog/how-technology-transforming-store-shopping

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