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Building A Startup Mobile App? Avoid These Big Mistakes

Given the fact that there are over 2 million apps on Apple’s app store alone, it’s safe to assume your startup already has one.

For those that don’t though, it’s an investment that’s really worth making. Developing a mobile app related to your business can draw in an entirely different audience and put your company in the hands of the consumer. Literally.

There are plenty of things you should be doing when creating the app – making it functional would be a good start. But what should you not be doing? What should you avoid at all costs? Mobile app development is a tricky scene, and there’s much that can go wrong on the road to success.

So, in order to make the process a bit simpler for you, here are several of the most prominent mistakes. Dodge these as you would dodge a bullet!

Mistake 1: Jumping on popular trends

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware of the different kinds of mobile app that prove the most popular. The Candy Crush’s, Angry Birds and Flappy Birds of this world are the most dominant apps on the app store, and there’s a reason for that.

At the same time, these apps have spawned a bunch of pale imitators, hoping to feed off that immense success. It’s not hard to spot the copycats, and sadly, with Apple’s lax approach to app store publishing, they pop up all the time.

So what can we learn from this? Should your mobile app feature the word ‘bird’ in the title? Not quite. But you must understand that these apps were in the development stage at one point. They were all small at one point. Their success came about due to a fresh idea, combined with creative marketing.

And that’s the approach you should take for your app to be a success. Don’t copy popular ideas or jump on current trends. Create something unique and original to give it the best chance at standing out.

Mistake 2: Not factoring in all platforms

The world is packed full of different mobiles and operating systems. If you want your app to be a success, you’ll have to factor in as many as possible. This list of platforms includes, but is not limited to:

  • iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and Apple Watch
  • iOS operating system
  • Samsung Galaxy
  • Android
  • Amazon Fire
  • Jelly Bean/Marshmallow operating system

These are just a brief few in a sea of hundreds. Will you be able to cover them all? No. But should you cover as many as possible? Yes. Start with the most popular – Apple, iOS, Android and Samsung Galaxy – and go from there.

If you’re not confident with a particular platform, it can cause issues with development. Fortunately, there are several ways around this. One is to work with a mobile app development company, who possibly has more skill with different platforms than you. Don’t be ashamed to admit your shortcomings!

Another is to launch without support for the platforms you struggle with, and add it at a later date. You don’t have to rush everything out the gate from day one – as long as it’s done eventually!

Mistake 3: Focusing on the paywall

The paywall refers to the monetary barriers that may prevent users from fully experiencing your app. There is a good way, and a bad way, to implement this feature. Of course you want to make money, but you also want your app to be usable without consumers shelling out.

In some cases, you may not even need a paywall. Advertising revenue and sponsorship deals can be enough to make the app worthwhile. Although, this is only likely to be true for bigger companies with bigger reputations.

For the rest of us, the paywall is needed, but tricky to get right. The basic functionality of the app must remain intact, but how do you get people to spend? I suppose you could charge for the app upfront, but this won’t allow it to truly reach the masses.

One popular option is to allow people to pay a small fee to remove adverts. This is a completely fair way to earn a bit of extra money without interfering with app functionality.

Mistake 4: Not updating it regularly

Sure, you could launch in perfect condition, but what happens when users inevitably find lots of bugs and glitches? What happens if your app becomes all but ruined by the community?

Besides updates to fix bugs, you’ll need to perform updates to keep up with hardware. Apple unveils a new iteration of the iPhone every single year, without fail. Some of these have bigger screens and different specs, meaning you’ll have to keep on top of them.

Of course, you could leave your app as it is, but eventually, it’ll lose relevance. There’s a reason why Apple releases new phones every year – it’s because people buy them every year. That means people will quickly leave old devices behind, and without keeping up, they’ll leave you behind too.

Mistake 5: Lack of usability

Far too many app developers focus on the look and style of an app, rather than how it actually functions.

This is a critical mistake, not least because it’ll drive people away from using the app in the first place. Style over substance is not a mantra you can afford to live by here. Simplicity is key.

First and foremost, remember that this is a mobile app. Mobile apps are all about quick use, and time saving. People want to pull the phone out of their pockets and get straight down to business. They don’t want to trail through menu after menu to find what they need.

So, keep things simple and easy to understand. Don’t emphasise looks over functionality. Stick to one menu and one navigation bar where possible, and make all buttons big and bold. Visual upgrades and tweaks can be added on in updates later. But the core experience will be much harder to change.

Does your startup have a mobile app? How was the development experience? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author, Mark

Mark Asquith is a serial entrepreneur who has built globally successful design, marketing, software and digital businesses since he quit his real job in 2005.

A passionate podcaster, global keynote speaker and helpful bloke, Mark is the co-founder of Podcast Websites and the creator of Excellence Expected. He has a terribly embarrassing beard.

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