Tips for Designing a Strategic Mobile App
According to Buildfire blogger Ian Blair, if you’re a customer-first business, you need a mobile app. He describes it as no longer being an option—it’s now a necessity. In 2017, the number of global app downloads was in the tens of billions.
If you don’t make an app now and you keep putting it off or thinking your business doesn’t need one, you’re ultimately going to suffer in the long-run.
Even when businesses have a mobile app, it still might not be enough to keep them competitive and at the forefront of their customer’s minds. The app needs not just to exist.
It needs to be strategic, it needs to align with short- and long-term organizational objectives, and it needs to be something that will grow along with the business.
Strategic app development is essential to meet these goals. The following are some specific tips to keep in mind as you’re creating a mobile app development strategy and then putting it into action.
Develop a Mobile Strategy
Before you can specifically start creating a design strategy for a mobile app, you have to consider whether or not you have a mobile strategy in place. It’s not enough to look at your competition and do what they’re doing as far as their mobile app, because as Buildfire’s Blair puts it, they might have a totally different mobile strategy than the one that your organization has.
So, how do you create or refine a mobile strategy so you can then put in place a mobile app development strategy?
You’ll want to think about a few things.
First, what is your business strategy? Business and mobile strategy don’t operate separately from one another. They have to work hand-in-hand, and there has to be complete alignment for everything to work together cohesively.
Research indicates significant advantages to making sure the business strategy is clearly defined and understood before creating a mobile and app development strategy. First, it improves ROI by huge numbers. It improves customer satisfaction and can also improve productivity and employee efficiency.
When businesses jump into the process of creating a mobile app, they tend to think first about the more finite, technical details. For example, they might think about the UX and UI as well as the specific features and functionalities that will be available with the app.
They might jump into those details too soon, however, and starting with higher-level planning is essential for strategic mobile planning.
You have to think about your business as a whole. What are your mission and purpose? What are your objectives now, but also in 5 to 10 years? What is your customer’s journey like in a traditional format and how will that translate to mobile?
Who are your competitors and what are they doing well in terms of mobile strategy versus their weaknesses?
Where is your business missing key points of strength that you could integrate into your mobile strategy?
Once you’ve looked at the larger and higher-level concepts, you can dial it back into mobile-specific strategies and planning. Before you do anything else, what is the primary purpose of the app you’re going to develop and what benefits will the user derive from it?
The answer to this question needs to be streamlined and easily definable. It’s much easier to build around those core considerations than to start with a million disjointed objectives. Don’t start the development process with the features you want. Think only about the number one element of functionality and value you want the app to bring to users.
Once you have that, you can move to the details.
As you create a mobile app development strategy, but also a mobile strategy in general, think about the following and ask some of these questions:
- What constraints or limitations might exist?
- Will the outcomes and results that I hope to achieve be measurable? How will they be measured and at one point will the app strategy or the app itself be considered a success based on these metrics?
- How do the objectives to the mobile app and mobile strategy align with business strategy and how will growth fit into this?
Once you’ve covered all these areas, you can move into things like the user interface and how you can create a simple interface that’s in line with your customer personas. You can start laying out individual screens and thinking about the appearance and branding of the app. It’s important to lay a strategic foundation before you start any of these specifics, however.