We have been doing App Development here at McNair Media for a few years now, (and we have our own app in the Apple App Store here!) but we haven’t really chronicled the process in which it takes to make a custom app for a business or nonprofit. This goes through what it takes to develop a custom app and what the overall process would look like to build the app you have always wanted for your business or organization.
WHY Build an APP?
We get lots of calls and inquiries to our contact form on people wanting to building an app. We hear so many varied reasons businesses and organizations give to why they want an app for their business. Below are some of the common ones:
#1 – NOTIFICATIONS
Notifications are the killer feature for any app, especially on iOS. This allows you to get right in front of your customer without having to go through something like email or social media. People may overlook an email, but an app notification goes right to their phone.
#2 – VISIBILITY AND EXPOSURE
An app in the App Store or Google Play provides visibility to a larger, national audience. Depending on the kind of app, being in the App Store can skyrocket you in front of millions within days.
#3 – CUSTOMER LOYALTY
Apps can be used to cultivate customer loyalty in several ways. We find that our retail clients love apps for their rewards functionality while or E-commerce clients love apps for their ability to present their upcoming orders statuses and notify customers of progress.
#4 – OFFLINE ACCESS
In our interconnected world, we sometimes forget this, but apps can be made to be used offline. You can install an app and have its contents available on the device, regardless of an internet connection. This is fantastic for reader apps and other resource type apps. Even video!
#5 – STREAMLINING AN INTERNAL PROCESS
While we typically think of apps as a customer-facing thing, many of our clients use custom apps we’ve made to streamline an internal business process. A custom business app can come preloaded on an employee smartphone and updates can be pushed over the air.
Planning IS KEY
Apps take lots of planning and require a lot of technologies to be in place within your organization before the building process commences. Our first phase of our app projects is a planning process that helps takes your app idea into something more defined and what that distribution method should be. We also lay out what business requirements are needed to be in place before proceedings to the next phase of the app project. Business requirements include internal processes that are needed as well as technologies that need to be implemented.
Focus on Primary Goals, Then Expand
Because of all that goes into an app, focusing on one goal is important when starting an app project and will ensure a smooth and timely launch. This will also help you better determine what the distribution method of your app should be. For a custom business app that is only being used internally, there is no need to spend the time and money to go through the app review process to be submitted into the App Store. These internal use apps can be distributed via Apple’s MDM technology to company managed devices. You can also enroll employees own devices into your organization’s management account.
A Solid Start is Essential
Issues like store rejections can be minimized with a solid start in research and planning, followed by a robust app prototype. Problems identified in this phase may require an additional planning and prototyping before proceeding with the coding process. The more problems that arise could change the scope and push back the overall timeline of the app launch.
Planning then Prototyping
Prototyping allows for further refinement of the app idea before coding begins and provides some feedback from friends, family, employees, existing customers or via further market research or focus groups that McNair Media can facilitate on your behalf. You may find that other app development shops approach prototyping in the first phase of their app development process. Prototyping is not an effective use of financial resources to see whether an idea is a good one. We believe that a solid process of research and planning will make the prototyping phase a much bigger benefit to you as well as clearly structure this phase to complete in a matter of weeks, not months.
A completed app prototype from McNair Media provides our client with an interactive and clickable proof of concept to the idea that was solidified in the research and planning phase of our app development project plan. This is something that our clients can put on their phone and experience themselves.
When AN APP COMES TO LIFE
Once the first two phases of an app development project are completed and the overall scope is clearly defined, we will then proceed with coding and internal testing of your app. We classify our internal testing as the alpha build, and we’ll proceed to make the app prototype come to life with native code. Once we are completed with our internal testing, we’ll open the app up to users inside your organization. Depending on the app, it may be good to get feedback from of your employees or customers before releasing the app publicly.
Your App’s Destination influences Everything
The destination of your app will determine the next steps we take after the initial coding has completed. If you are simply distributing to devices within your own organization, the testing and deployment process is much quicker, and we can proceed to deployment as soon as the app is working as it needs to. If you are looking to submit your app to Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store, a more rigorous set of testing needs to be completed to ensure that your app adheres to the guidelines of those stores. Store rejections by Apple and Google are a thing we consider and plan for as a part of your overall app development. We work hard to the minimize common rejections within the planning phase of your app.
Let’s Talk! Schedule a Free App Consult
We provide free consultations for people interested in pursuing an app for their business or organization. Give us a call or click on the consult link below.