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Approaching App Development for Small Businesses

Apps are a crucial part of our computing lives, but apps are a hard problem for most small businesses. The complexity and pricing of app development has long kept many out of implementing a customer facing or internal application. However, new coding frameworks and development tools are now making things simpler and more affordable to the point that apps are now in reach of a small business. This post will cover what you should be thinking about as you approach an app development project and why it is important to work with app developers for small businesses versus a larger development shop.

What kind of app are we making?

This is the biggest issue we see as we consult on mobile apps. Lack of clear purpose and intent surrounding the app idea dooms the app development project from the beginning. It’s important to clearly the following:

  • Who’s the app for?
  • What kinds of things will this app do for those individuals?
  • How often will these individuals use this? (daily/weekly/monthly)
  • What does the technology usage look like of a typical user?

While this isn’t a complete list of things to consider, how one answers these questions will dictate the overall direction of the project.

Survey and test

App development has gotten easier, but it’s still an incredibly involved process and needs to be approached wisely. Once you determine who your app should be for, it’s wise to survey those users to get a better idea of how this app can better serve them. While it may sound simpler to avoid this step, the development process can be delayed significantly due to not getting feedback from the app’s target audience from the beginning.

Testing is also key to successful app development project and there are a lot of ways to test even before you move into the development phase of an app project. Depending on your deployment plan, implementing on your website some of the features that you want to build into an app is a terrific way to test and get meaningful feedback. This will also help you confirm some of your previous thoughts on what the app should focus on.

Don’t compare your project to big corporations

One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make in any website or app project is comparing their upcoming project to a Facebook or an Amazon. It’s important to remember that both platforms initially did not ship with many of the features that we associate them with (Facebook did not have a newsfeed or a messaging component, Amazon only sold a small selection of books). Your project needs to be focused and approached in a realistic manner so that you can succeed.

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