November 1, 2016

How to Build a Mobile App Without an In-House Development Team

How to Build a Mobile App Without an In-House Development Team

Don’t Let Technology be a Roadblock

Sorry Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Page, gone are the days where possessing technical expertise was a requirement to build successful software. If you’ve got a killer mobile app idea, the modern world of technology and evolving agile methodologies allows you to bring your application from concept to reality more quickly and efficiently than ever before. In fact, today’s mobile app market is dominated by crafty designers, innovative marketers, and forward-thinking business people.

Why haven’t you started?
The need for in-house developers or technology expertise is eliminated with a simple search on the internet or a few candid conversations with a seasoned developer. If your professional expertise lies in other areas of business, leave the programming and development to an expert partner. Development execution is absolutely critical to the vitality of your project. You want to ensure the best user experience possible. After all, if your app doesn’t work for your users, they’ll simply uninstall it.

If you thought that you needed to be a tech guru, or hire full-time, in-house developers to bring your app idea to life, it’s time to think twice. Here’s how to build a mobile app without taking on extra overhead costs or extra IT-related courses.

Technology is no longer exclusive to techies.
Modular programming platforms, pre-built frameworks, web-based repositories, and readily available software have made custom applications more accessible than ever before. Today’s most popular apps, such as Airbnb and Pinterest were created by designers first, then skyrocketed to success through strategic development and powerful marketing execution.

Pare down to the core idea.

Ahh, your app is glorious. People are going to line up to download it. In the initial stages of mobile app development, it’s easy to get whisked away by additional features that will improve your mobile app. Focus on the core reason your app exists. There’s always room for improvement once you’ve built a solid foundation. The more bells and whistles that you add on during the initial stages the more time, issues, and troubleshooting will be required to deliver a quality end-product. More time up front means a longer time to market and as we all know, time is money.

Share your app idea with others.

Just reading that sentence feels counterintuitive, right? Actually, it’s a helpful exercise that you’ll be thankful for in the future. Talking about your idea is critical because you’re gauging interest and gathering feedback to verify your idea. Gathering constructive input from outside perspectives may be what differentiates mediocrity from explosive success.  From our years of mobile app development experience, here are some common pitfalls to avoid when building an application.

Think about the problem your app solves.

A good app will solve a common problem shared by a target group of users. A wildly successful one will serve multiple problems within a target group of users. Define the problem your mobile app solves. Is it solely for entertainment, or is it built for a specific issue? An example of a wildly successful app is Airbnb, where people can opt for more cost effective accommodations from local residents. On the flip-side, people can generate some extra cash by simply renting out the room they’re not using. Think of the wins users will love in your app.

Define your niche.

One of the most common pitfalls in a mobile app is trying to appeal to everyone, everywhere. While casting a wide net may seem like a good thing, it’s actually incredibly costly and will sink your app to mediocrity. Stay away from generic ideas and identify your true users. You know the problem your app solves, and test it with the right niche user group. Are they avid health and fitness enthusiasts? Are they 35 year-old, first-time mothers looking for help? Yeah, you need to be that specific. You can always scale up in the future.

Research, research, research.

Do your research. Test with your target users over and over until you stop hearing anything new. Conduct online searches for similar apps, complementary apps, and your defined target audience. You’ll quickly identify areas of improvement, ideas for scaling up in the future, where your audience is online, and how to market your solution. The internet is a goldmine of free information, use it.

Set goals for your app.

No matter the purpose of your app, create goals. If the initial goal is to prove it’s a viable business opportunity to venture capitalists, you’ll need to define a clear path to financial profits in the early stages of product launch. In another instance, suppose the purpose of your app is to enhance your company’s customer experience by providing a useful tool. Maybe the goal you set is to increase customer satisfaction by 20% for those who download the app.

Build out clear goals and set milestones along the way. This will help you stay focused, guide your marketing strategy, and identify areas of improvement.

Market your product before launch.

Building up anticipation prior to launch is just as critical as delivering a product worth waiting for. Now that you know who your audience is, where they’re at online, identified clear goals, and defined your unique value proposition it’s time to start building out your marketing strategy. Pronto.

It’s imperative to determine messaging that resonates with your audience before you create any marketing materials. This helps to ensure your message is consistent engaging for the right audience.

Next, write content that addresses the challenges your target users are facing. Map out the questions they’ll ask when searching for solutions to their problems and use those keywords in the landing page content. This will help drive organic search traffic.

Then, create a landing page that offers an exclusive trial or the ability to download the app before it hits the market.  

Last, it’s critical to use paid media to reach your target audience. Develop social media and pay-per-click ads to drive traffic to your landing page and convert leads. Engage your target audience with content to raise awareness and spark conversations around your mobile app.

Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Launching your app directly into the marketplace isn’t the most strategic pathway to success. You need to learn about how your users are going to actually use the application by building an MVP and testing it with users. This will help you verify your core idea and gather critical feedback to build a solid foundation. You can learn more about how to define your MVP here.

Communicate with your developers.

You may not be a developer, but it’s imperative to communicate the core idea, goals, and target audience to your development partner. They’ll help you stay focused on the end-goal, and keep you from building distracting bells and whistles of your MVP. Their goal is to build a wildly successful application. They want to see your product succeed just as much as you do. Be open-minded to their suggestions, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Charmon Stiles

Written by Charmon Stiles

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