Welcome back to my continuing series of 10 lessons learnt from a decade of app development. The second lesson is all about apps needing to do one thing, and do it well.
With the time and financial investment involved in finding an app development agency and then developing a mobile app, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting it to do everything. All too often, people try to develop a catch-all app that achieves all of their objectives within one handy package. But the problem with an app that does everything is that it rarely does anything particularly well.
Think about it.
Take a look at your phone’s home screen and, if it’s anything like mine, it will be fully loaded with a myriad of different apps.
Looking at mine now, I’ve got apps for banking, apps for shopping and apps for, well… wasting time. But the point is, they all serve a different and unique purpose. Trying to combine them all into one app would be madness, especially as my phone already does that for me. Purely by including the apps on our phones, we’re customising the experience and functions of the phone to suit ourselves. Any new app is simply becoming a part of that overall functionality.
Identify a need
The first thing you need to do is identify what need you are trying to fulfil. Is it a business process you want to streamline? Or are you trying to make things easier for your customers? Figuring out what you want the app to do is the first critical stage in figuring out how you can achieve that. For instance here at AtomicMedia we might recommend a ‘Design Sprint’ to help with identifying the purpose of the app.
Define your mobile app
They key to producing a useful app that offers a useful function, is to first define that function. When you tell people about your idea, try to describe to people what it does in no more than a sentence. For example: Uber is an app that lets you order and pay for a cab directly from your phone. No further description is required. If you can define your app in a short, snappy sentence, you’re well on your way to producing a solid mobile app.
Throughout the development process, it’s easy to get side-tracked and start to look at other things to add to the app. This usually comes from other departments within your organisation who each have their own ideas for apps. While it’s ok to add some additional functionality to your app, it’s important that any additions serve as an adjunct to the main purpose of the app.
For instance, if you’re developing an eCommerce app, social media integration can be a successful way to engage more customers with your products. Switch that around however, and e commerce elements added to a social networking app can detract from its purpose and discourage users from using the app.
If, during the development process you discover that you have a need for additional functionality beyond the original scope, consider whether or not it enhances the app’s ability to achieve its original purpose, or whether it might be better to produce a separate app.
At AtomicMedia, we’ve been developing mobile apps for over 10 years. In that time, we’ve developed a strong understanding of app development. If you have an idea for an app, or even just an issue you think a mobile app would help you resolve, our team will happily meet with you to help refine and define your idea.