Running a mobile app startup is a challenging undertaking. Having an idea for an app and developing it takes immense effort and resources. So it is crucial to evaluate every single detail and minimize errors. Here are eight common mistakes to avoid while building an app startup.
Mistake #1: Skipping market research
Market research establishes a strong foundation. With an increase in technical breakthroughs, a lack of industry and user research can pose a threat to startups.
Let’s say you want to create a meditation app like Calm. You know it will take a while to gain traction and user downloads on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. So you decide to replicate the app without conducting research.
As a result, your app doesn’t show signs of user adoption. This is a result of competing with established players that average a 4.6 app rating (a strong signal that a majority of their customers are satisfied). Market research would have given you a clearer picture of your competitors and potential users along with a good understanding of their happiness and frustrations. This simple first step can save you a lot of money, time, and effort.
Mistake #2: Hiring unskilled app developers
We all love a good deal. Yet, there’s a thin line between cheap and competitive. Many startups hire low-cost mobile app developers (read: for peanuts).
Good quality is never cheap, cheap is never good. Selecting the right technology partners requires time and effort. Before you hire a development team, consider must-have features, preferred technologies, and define a feasible project timeline.
Mistake #3: Unknowledgeable about app development costs
Once you’ve conducted research and identified a list of USPs, it’s time to build a product that stands out from competitors, so a reasonable budget is imperative. When you hire an app development agency, they employ a team of designers, developers, and project managers that can cater to your specifications.
Some features, if not all, require development teams to have experience and talent. It is recommended to ask for a detailed budget estimate to gain clarity and insight into line-item costs.
Mistake #4: Not building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is version 1.0 of your product that includes the most significant features (read: USPs). Rolling out an MVP can help you understand how users perceive your app and analyze its performance. Unfortunately, a lot of startups skip this step and opt to “go big” with every conceivable bell and whistle.
However, research suggests that 74 percent of high growth internet startups fail because of premature scaling. That being said, your app could be exceptional and just as easily fall prey to competition and user confusion.
Limit features to improve performance, eliminate redundant functions, and fulfill the user’s basic needs, then gradually take it to the next level. Note: Billion dollar companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Dropbox kickstarted their journey with MVPs.
Mistake #5: Poor UI and UX
Design communicates simplicity and ease. A bad user experience (UX) can tank your app quickly. When startups have too many tasks to focus on, it can be easy to forget to put UI/UX on the backburner. You could be exceptional at marketing and selling your product, but if it’s hard to use and provides a bad experience app abandonment is inevitable.
The first impression is generally the last impression. From user on-boarding to the other critical app functions, a strong user experience (UX) can give you a competitive edge.
Mistake #6: Not conducting usability tests
Testing is crucial at all stages of mobile app development. Despite this, many apps are released without being tested. Before you hire an app developer, ask them about their usability testing approach to ensure all features are verified before release.
How many test users should you include in your test group? According to Nielson Norman Group, the answer is 5, except when it’s not. Most arguments for using more test participants are wrong, but some tests should be bigger and some smaller.
Mistake #7: Ignoring user feedback
We build mobile apps for users. On that premise, user feedback plays a significant role in enriching an app’s experience. However, there are a couple of fundamental practices you must acknowledge which include: Give first, and you shall receive and don’t annoy users with constant nudging.
Mistake #8: No real marketing strategy
Unfortunately, many app startups conduct little to no marketing and expect instant results. Besides launching your app in app stores, consider creating a roadmap that includes online strategies such as social media promotion, press release distribution, content marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and similar tactics to expand reach and awareness.
Pete McCain is a technology startup mentor associated with AppVelocity, a Canada-based mobile app development company. He has collaborated with more than 50 entrepreneurs over the last decade to maximize growth and contribute to technical excellence.