4 Potential pitfalls of mobile app development and how to avoid them

Mobile development has come a long way in the last few years and it continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

August 22, 2013

By Nick Durrant, Managing Director at Bluegrass Digital

Mobile development has come a long way in the last few years and it continues to evolve at a rapid pace with the constant release of new and more powerful smartphones that are packed with new features. It can be a challenge to keep up with this rapidly changing environment and it is easy to make mistakes along the way that could jeopardise your business. Developers need to understand that the learning process is never complete without understanding the common pitfalls that come with app development. Have a look at these potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Too many platforms

One of the big problems developers need to try and avoid is attempting to cover too many platforms at the start. Developing for several platforms at in the initial release raises the cost significantly and can actually reduce the success rate of the app. Rather try focusing on 1 or possibly 2 platforms first, do some research to find where your target market predominantly are, also look at which platform would offer the best value proposition.

Use market research and social media polls to see where the main interest lies. Whether it is IOS or Android, doing the research first and focusing your development can help you save costs as well as help ensure you cover the required functionality. If it is determined that your market is too spread across various platforms you might want to consider starting with a mobile website to test the waters as this is easier to target across platforms and can give you better insights into what the main access platform is.

2. Too many features

Just as developing for too many platforms can become a problem so can including too many features, especially for the initial development. This can cause you to end up with an app that has either limited appeal across a too wide target market or one where you have a wide range of features but many of the features are too limited to actually be useful. As a developer you need to understand what you want the app to achieve, what will make it unique, and focus the features to cover that very well. The first release should be highly focused on the specific needs of the target audience with the goal to enhance and expand the features in future releases.

3. Creating an overly complex app

Following on from having too many features packed into the app is the next problem of having an overly complex app that is difficult to navigate and operate. The UI should be quick and easy to learn for first time users. Depending on the type of app you are creating and your target market, the user of the app may not be a techno geek and you want to delight with your app rather than frustrate. Try to make the user journey as simple as possible with the least number of steps required to achieve the goal. Map out the wireframes and user journey and get someone outside of the development team to run through it to see if they follow. If the app requires more complicated features you need to ensure there is at least a simple to follow and detailed user guide.

4. Marketing of the app

Before launching, research needs to be done on how the app will be discovered. You need to look at what category the app falls in, and how it will be marketed. Marketing messages and press releases should never be sent out until the app has been listed in the relevant app store and fully tested. There is nothing worse for a newly launched app when a user sees all the marketing for an “available” app to come to the store and see it isn’t actually available yet for whatever reason. This can create bad feelings towards the app and that user may actually end up not coming back.