In the past year, consumers downloaded over 200 billion apps to their devices. We believe it’s safe to say that there’s no shortage of interest among users for new exciting apps. This doesn’t mean you can just create a mobile app in a couple of weeks and hope for success–launching an application takes effort and understanding of the market trends.
Let’s go over the phases of an app’s life cycle and explore a step-by-step guide to make a successful mobile application, from basic research to an impressive launch.
1. Research the Market
Before you start building your mobile app, you need to dedicate time to pre-development and pre-launch activities. The more effort you put into researching and troubleshooting, the easier it’ll be in the later phases of your journey.
The best place to start is getting to know your environment and how you can make your app the best fit. Even though the demand is ever-increasing with the number of users, each niche has numerous competitors fighting for their attention. That’s why it’s essential to know your market, how the competition is positioning and what pain points you can address.
When looking at the current situation, you should ask questions that can help you avoid repeating mistakes that are often made while preparing for launch.
What do users like about the most popular apps in the stores? What’s missing? How do the market leaders position them and where? These are some of the questions that you should answer before you proceed.
Thorough research can make a difference between a successful launch that makes noise and just another app that fades out in the first week.
2. Get To Know Your Buyer Persona(s)
Same as for the market, you need to know your future users and get ready to meet your audience’s expectations.
It’s not enough to just say you’re creating an app for young people or that you’re targeting business teams. To get their attention, you need to understand how you can fit with their daily routine.
Is there a problem you can solve for them or simplify a recurring situation? Do you fill a gap in a particular niche of interest or improve on an existing solution? If you’re working on an app that will resonate with the audience, you should know exactly where the place for your product is.
This part of the preparation also involves discovering specific communities, not just individual profiles. The better you get to know where your app will land once it launches, the easier it’ll be to promote it.
3. Initial Design and Development
After you have validated your idea and product value, start building your product. An average app will take at least three months to create, and there is no need to have a complete product right away. Key aspects of deciding on are the technology stack and the platform you’re using – whether the application will be native, whether you want an iOS or Android app, or whether you’d like to choose cross-platform.
Initially, you should create a roadmap and have a wireframe for your app. Hire a quality team of mobile app developers and start building your application.
4. Start Preparing Your Presence
While your development team is creating your app, you should start spreading the information about your future product and drum up some interest.
An essential step in this direction is setting up a landing page and registering a domain for your app. That will help later on during the launch, as it’ll be easier for the audience to find you.
The landing page will serve as a hub for news about the release and a way to get leads and subscribers you can engage with after the launch.
The same goes for social media presence – use digital channels as valuable tools for spreading awareness and reaching the buyer persona you created. Create business pages, start advertising campaigns and gather your audience on your profile so that you’ll already have a group of interested people when you are ready to announce the launch.
5. Define Clear Goals and KPIs
When you gather the information about your buyer persona and the market, it will become more obvious where your app’s strengths are. Based on that, you should decide what would count as a success – is it important to have as many users as possible, or you’re more interested in specific target users. Are you going to include in-app purchases?
With specific metrics in mind, not only that it makes it easier to determine if your launch is a success, but you can also conduct more productive usability testing and remove all the bumps along the way before your app gets to the end-user.
6. Prototype Testing
You should start testing your prototype as soon as possible. It’s a great solution to have an in-house QA engineer check your app through the entire development process. And when your prototype is ready, you should give it to your test audience to get valuable feedback.
When you get your app in front of a test audience earlier, you can save a large amount of your budget that would be needed to fix something that’s already been created.
During the multiple testing phases, you can test out if the app does what it should, meaning that you should set specific goals to be completed. For example, you could check how much time users need to get to the conversion, is your UX clear and your users don’t have any issues when navigating and interacting with your app.
Getting relevant test users can also improve the process massively, so you should always aim for quality over quantity. The closer to the target group you get, the more insights you’ll have to make everything as polished as possible before the launch.
7. Making Specific Plans
After you’ve gone over all the possibilities and gathered all the relevant information you could, you’ve built and tested your core application, and it’s time to set a launch date. It is directed both at you and your audience – they’ll know when they can expect to see the finished product. At the same time, you’ll have a specific deadline to look forward to, as it will help you move forward instead of wondering if everything’s perfect and postpone the release.
It is also an excellent time to make an overall marketing plan, covering the timeline of your messages, channels that you’ll use, and the key message you need to communicate.
8. Beta Release
With everything in place, you should create a contained release for a few testers to see how the final product acts in the “real world”, but without the risk of something going wrong.
Same as with the earlier testing, the research should be specific and aim to check if every functionality is in place.
You can use these insights and get even closer to the big launch.
9. Choose Your Launch Platform
Based on the decision that you’ve made regarding technology and development, you should pick stores that your app will be available in. Go through the approval process and set the launch process in motion.
Each mobile app store has rules and regulations you have to follow when publishing your application. Carefully learn all the details and prepare your app up to the requirements.
This involves creating a description and other materials such as high-quality screenshots and videos to showcase it. If you follow the guidelines each store provides, your app should be published in just a few days.
10. Launch Time
Even though it’s the most exciting part of the process, with all the thorough preparation you’ve done before, this should come as the easiest part as well.
Use the materials you created along the way and make a push through all available channels. Whether you’ve opted for influencers or PR articles, the key is to make the call-to-action for download as present as possible.
Place the store link on your website, send out the newsletter with the page linked and put it in all of your social media bios – this isn’t the time to be modest.
A portion of your budget should go toward paid ads, as they’re the best way to get to the specific target group you have in mind.
Of course, social media and Google ads are proven ways to get new users, but you should also consider advertising in the stores to make sure your app is as visible as possible.
11. Post-launch Listening
After some time, you’ll have a good idea of how the launch went and if it met your KPIs.
Even though you’ve done most of the work needed, there are still a couple of things you can do to maximize the success of your app. Gathering other types of feedback can prove to be essential for your app’s life cycle.
Monitor all mentionings on platforms and social media, learn how the app fares between the users, read and respond to users’ comments and suggestions and keep track of your engagement across the channels to stay on top of trends.
12. React On Feedback
The insights that you get from your audience are only valuable if you act on them. You should keep testing new performance updates, try fixing bugs that may come up along the way, and even implement new functionalities that your users recommend if they prove to be relevant.
Not only will continuous updates keep your app relevant for longer, but they will also create positive word-of-mouth for your future efforts and nurture the relationship with your community.
It may seem like a lot to take in, but when you dedicate the time to every part of the process, you’ll see that a good idea can hold up and become a success if you put in enough effort. Start by getting to know your market and get down the specifics of your target group. After that, you should go into initial preparations and lay down the foundations.
Next, you should go into user research and testing the ins and outs of your app. With valuable insights that you’ll gather, you can go on and make more specific plans. Keep track of all the updates you made and the final feedback gathered through beta testing and go forward with final preparations. With your communication plan decided and all available channels covered, you’ll soon be ready to launch. Just remember – when your app’s out, it’s not the time to stop working on it. Keep listening to your users, test, update, and gather the audience that’ll be ready for your future launches.