Introduction to Things Should Know Before Launching an App
You can watch hours of video and read tutorials from dozens of respected sites online, but you can’t expect to learn everything about launching a mobile app until you do it yourself. As someone who launched a successful app in 2018, here are the things I wish I had known before I got started.
1. Your Development Costs Will Likely be Double What You Estimated
It’s the unexpected costs that get you, and many people fail to make room for that in their initial budget estimates. Bring in people with enough experience to help you learn what kinds of expenses may turn up. It would be devastating to have to scrap a project when you realize you’re out of funds.
2. Your App (Probably) Won’t be an Instant Success
Even if you have a phenomenal pre-launch strategy and choose the keywords that lead to a huge number of initial downloads, the work doesn’t stop there. You’ll need to sustain your growth by constantly finding new users and then keep them coming back to the app. Continue testing, tracking, and refining strategy to stay competitive and keep growing. Even branded apps that you think would require little work to remain successful still have to put in the hours.
3. Learn About Marketing
You could develop the most revolutionary new app that you believe will have a huge impact on your industry, but if not enough people know about it, it will fail. Strategic marketing is the key to creating awareness about your app, growing your user base, retaining those users, and encouraging them to spend more time with the app. Marketing plans help you set objectives to deliver on specific business goals by detailing every step you’ll need to take to reach those goals.
4. Test, Test, and then Test Again!
First impressions are everything. If you launch an app that’s buggy and doesn’t work, it’s nearly impossible to come back from that. Use beta testers for pre-launch and every time you release an update or add a new feature. It might seem like an inconvenient step to take, but it’s really an insurance policy against bad press, negative reviews, and what could turn out to be a slip-up you’ll never recover from.
5. Don’t Develop What YOU Want. Develop What USERS Want.
If you’re not paying attention to your customers – through market research, learning how your competitors serve them, and even directly reaching out to get their feedback – your app will never take off. Do you have a vision for what you feel would solve a problem? Go ahead and test that idea before you move forward in the development phase.
And since your customers’ needs are going to evolve, you have to keep listening to them even after you’ve launched. Use social media to engage and definitely read and respond to reviews for the app. We learned that student drivers wanted information about the rules for pedestrian crossings, so we added that content to our Zutobi Driver’s Education app. Our goal was to communicate and interact with our users. This approach may even get you some great ideas for new features to add.
6. The Time to Plan for Growth is During the Development Phase
It’s smart to be realistic about your expected success, but it’s also wise to plan for high growth when anticipating your technology requirements. You have to be prepared to serve a larger number of users because if the technology can’t handle it, that’s going to be a blemish on your reputation. Growth will likely happen in spurts, but it’s still wise to have a plan ready to expand when the time comes.
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7. The Real Work Happens After You Launch
As I mentioned earlier, instant success is rare. It may feel like you’ve put everything into developing the app and getting the word out about it. But although you may think you can breathe a sigh of relief once it’s in the app stores, your story is just beginning.
Besides marketing the app, which is a continuous process, there will also be bugs to fix and updates to make. App users scrutinize the newness of apps and how recently they’ve been updated because they want to feel confident that it’s going to work for them. Customers also like to see that you’re making improvements and responding to their needs, and they will see how recently your update was made since that information shows up in the app store description.
Mentally and physically preparing for the workload that’s coming will improve your efficiency and reduce surprises.
8. Launching an App is a Long Process
Be realistic about the timeline. It’s going to take a lot longer than a few months to launch and keep your app relevant. Developing and maintaining a successful app can sometimes involve years of work. Set realistic expectations before you delve into the project.
9. From Start to Finish, Knowledge is King
From researching your target customers and competitors at the very start of the process to keeping tabs on how users interact with the app, it’s essential to have good data on which to base your decisions. You should also be well-informed about your industry so you can jump on innovative ways to solve your customers’ problems and help improve their productivity. We set out to deliver the most helpful guide for passing the practical driving test based on data we learned about our users. Never stop learning or seeking information that’s relevant to your customers’ needs.
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Don’t Forget to Have Fun
When I developed my first mobile app, I was so burnt out I almost gave up. Allow time for breaks and remember why you decided to develop the app in the first place. Even if you have to work hard, being passionate about your project makes success so much sweeter. Do what you need to do to restore your mental and physical energy, and then get back to work. It’s definitely worth it!
I hope this list has given you something to think about and provided some helpful insights. It’s not easy to create and sustain a successful app, but if you’re prepared, you’ll find the process very rewarding.
Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online driver education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.