No doubt, software apps have been gaining a lot of attention and traffic in recent years. In fact, because of the high revenue they generate, many now consider them a goldmine.
However, a closer look at the mobile development industry reveals that a surprisingly high percentage of apps are discarded after first use. The sheer competitiveness of the digital market is mainly responsible for this.
But beyond competition, there are a lot of mistakes mobile app developers make that deter the success of their apps.
By avoiding these common errors during development, you can successfully position your app to become the reliable source of revenue you’ve always dreamed of.
After years of working with many developers and studying the industry, we’ve pinpointed 14 of these mistakes.
Let’s take a look at them!
Table of Contents
1. Failing to Understand What Your Users Want
Every successful software application is built on intense user research. Especially at the initial stages of development, it’s common for developers to think that their app will be a user favorite.
However, if you neglect to validate this idea by a deep understanding of your target audience, your project may just be headed for the rocks.
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The two most important aspects of bringing an app to the market (development and marketing)rely extensively on user research for success. This is why you cannot afford to make assumptions about your prospective users’ needs and behaviors.
Are your app features well-executed? Will they overwhelm the users?
How original is the app? App stores are already oversaturated with lots of similar products.
Audience research is by far the most important way to give your project a head start. When you validate your ideas and assumptions before setting things in motion, you get to save yourself a lot of time and energy.
2. Involving Too Many Stakeholders
Decision-making is a crucial part of any software development project. While having multiple project stakeholders can be an asset, the failure to manage them effectively is conversely a major ingredient for disaster.
Generally, project stakeholders often fight for their opinions to be prioritized.
Your job as a developer is to strike a balance between meeting each party’s expectations and adhering to set industry standards in due time.
A typical project management strategy should focus on identifying all the important stakeholders and their roles in the development process. While doing this, you should also assign different priority levels to each stakeholder’s interests.
This should depend on how critical their role is to the completion of the project.
Stakeholder hierarchies could include assigned roles such as decision-makers, feedback providers, and recommendation givers.
However, regardless of their role, do your best to maintain clear and constant communication with all the parties involved.
There are many communication channels such as Slack, Trello, and the likes you can establish from the onset. Let them know that their input is making a difference.
Having this type of structure can help you avoid conflict. Nevertheless, when one arises, review each stakeholder’s interests with the project objectives in mind.
3. Mismanaging the Budget
Another common app development mistake is poor budget management.
Irrespective of the scale or nature of your project, app development is a significant business investment. As such, one of the major deciding factors to pay attention to is the size of your budget and how it’s handled.
To avoid blowing your budget, there are three tips you should incorporate from the onset of the project.
Make a detailed budget before initiating the development process. Its relevance and accuracy depend mainly on how much research you put in. Understanding your target audience, the app feature list, design elements, and intended monetization strategy will play a significant role here.
Assign funds to make up for unexpected costs. No matter how detailed and extensive your budget is, unforeseen circumstances will always arise. A good budget should, therefore, make room for miscellaneous expenses.
Adhere strictly to the budget. Once you’ve created that ideal budget, ensure to also stick to it even at the most critical stages of the project.
In a nutshell, app development is a complex, customizable process.
Though there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for financing it, proper budget management ensures that you always put your best foot forward.
4. Not Communicating Properly With Developers
Just like every business venture, communication is a central component of every successful app development project.
Getting developers to see the entire idea of your app may seem like an uphill task, but it’s one you have to commit to nonetheless.
How well you do this can make all the difference in the results you get.
The best approach to communicating with developers is to leave out no details and make no assumptions.
When it comes to an entirely new piece of software, detailed documentation packed with all the necessary visuals will come in very handy.
Documentation should contain your app’s synopsis (abstract describing what it does), an app wireframe, and a complete feature list. In most cases, these are the elements a professional developer would require from you.
6. Developing an App for Too Many Platforms at Once
Most major brands field multiple app solutions for different device platforms. In a bid to take a leaf out of their book, app developers are often tempted to do the same.
Unfortunately, making this move early on has proven to be a mistake time and again.
No doubt, developing your app for several platforms is a sure way to reach as many consumers as possible. However, the major caveat here is that you should ensure not to go for too many platforms simultaneously.
The first downside to this approach is the financial implication.
For example, creating an iOS app and an Android app simultaneously is a humongous task.
Since both tasks will be handled as two individual projects, you’ll need almost twice the budget one platform requires. This isn’t good economics for a new app.
The primary element that defines good UI and UX is a client-centric design. Even after implementing a standard UX design for your app, client feedback is a major ingredient for success.
At times, the popular client choice may not always be the technically sound option. In the end, maintaining a profit-oriented balance should always be the priority.
10. Having a Never-Ending Improvement Loop
No doubt, putting your mobile app through multiple rounds of improvement is crucial for ensuring its market success. However, it’s also important to know where to draw the line.
No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to create a perfect software product. Attempting to do this will only leave you with an app that never takes off.
At a point, you need to admit that there are things you’ll only learn after you launch your app. The courage to launch the actual product after a certain number of iterations is an essential business move in itself.
With an MVP, you get to offer daily users a chance to assess your app’s functionalities and performance. In other words, you’re generating real user feedback under real marketing conditions, all before launching the final app.
This approach helps to speed up the app improvement process and launch the final product faster.
Many successful mobile apps, such as Uber, and Instagram, have used the MVP model to deliver highly engaging products.
11. Failing to Test Adequately
On the other side of the coin, launching your mobile app without testing it sufficiently can be as disastrous as running a never-ending improvement loop.
Quality control is one element of the development process you cannot afford to overlook.
It’s impossible to build a successful mobile app without prioritizing user experience. User feedback collection is one of the easiest ways to assess your app’s user experience in practical terms, and Shake is a handy tool for doing so.
But beyond collecting feedback, your app only gets better with each update release when you leverage the feedback collected.
There’s no way you can convince app users to love your app without eliminating major pain points from earlier feedback.
Once users observe that you consistently ignore their input, they’ll end up finding a substitute.
On the other hand, app developers that pay close attention to user feedback can easily turn casual app users into loyal customers.
Beyond app store reviews and ratings, app analytics can also offer a lot of insight into how you can make your app better.
If you can successfully combine data from both app analytics and user feedback, you have enough information to meet users’ expectations for your app.
For example, app analytics will reveal your app’s average user session length. However, if the figure falls below your target, you’ll need user feedback to identify the reason behind the low engagement level.
14. Focusing on Downloads Instead of Retention
Within many development circles, developers often tout the number of app downloads as the ultimate proof of mobile app success. However, this is only where it all begins.
High download rates do not always translate to app success.
If properly engaged, existing app users can be a potential jackpot for attracting massive Return on Investment (ROI).
Loyal customers do more than just complete repeat purchases. They also give your brand free word-of-mouth advertisement and quality feedback.
Below are five proven tips for improving app engagement and user retention:
Create a pleasant onboarding experience.
Incorporate push notifications the right way.
Use branded in-app messages or notifications.
Attract users with various offers, discounts, and loyalty programs.
Encourage and reward user feedback.
By and large, setting up your app for better retention rates is an extensive process that involves creating and maintaining a great app. A truly successful high-quality app is a product of both high download rates and high retention rates.
Developing an app is often a long and arduous process that spans over an extended period. Along the way, developers are bound to make certain mistakes that can impede the app’s success.
Common bad development practices range from a poor understanding of users’ needs to involving too many stakeholders and neglecting user retention rates.
In this article, we’ve highlighted 14 major mobile development blunders we’ve observed in our many years of working with developers and agencies. We hope this comprehensive list goes a long way in setting your product up for success.
Mario makes every project run smoothly. A firm believer that people are DECODE’s most vital resource, he naturally grew into the role of People Operations Manager. Now, his encyclopaedic knowledge of every DECODEr’s role, and his expertise in all things tech, powers him to manage his huge range of responsibilities as COO.
Part developer, and seemingly part therapist, Mario is always calm under pressure, which helps to maintain the office’s stress-free vibe. In fact, sitting and thinking is his main hobby. What’s more Zen than that?