10 surefire ways NOT to do mobile

I love a good mobile app, I use about 10-20 productivity apps every day and am constantly trying out more. 

There is no question that there is a rise in productivity apps and that companies are beginning to cotton on to the fact that a great app, even if only targeted at a small, very specific group, can save enormous amounts of time, money and headache. 

But, on a daily basis, we see examples of apps that misfire really impressively, or maybe its even worse that that, in that they have got a good app but nobody knows about it. 

We've put together a list here of the 10 guaranteed ways NOT to do mobile properly.

1. The app isn't properly defined

We help a lot of people define their apps and there's often a lot of pushback on making the time to do a proper mobile app definition. You've got to remember that you and your developer may think about things differently, it may, for example be obvious that an m-commerce app should allow users to see the items you are selling and to pay for them but what payment methods will you allow? Can the users see their orders? Should receipts be issued? 

Now a lot of this will come out in the wash and if a developer proposes spending money on a Gate 0, Phase 0 or Discovery phase I would strongly suggest doing this as you'll iron all this out in advance and won't end up finding that the photos that your users were trying to upload were deleted if not successfully uploaded rather than saved in an album for example. How to define an app?

2. The app doesn't have a compelling feature

Its great to be able to offer your users lots of things that they could do with your app but if it doesn't have at least one thing that makes your app compelling then get up, walk to the bin and throw it away. Go back to the drawing board and find one, lots of "nice-to-haves" does not mean you are building a killer app.

3. You haven't chosen the "right" app developers

There are lots of great software developers and you might have decided that the top mobile app developers you used before will be great for your next project too but what we tell people is that you have to think of it like choosing a surgeon. You wouldn't choose a knee surgeon to carry out your brain surgery, you'd get the best brain surgeon you could afford for the type of surgery you need. 

Development is no different. Its about the "right" developer. They need to have the right combination of platform expertise, features experience, language capabilities, be based where you want them, in some cases have the relevant industry experience, and be within your price range. And all of these factors are affected by your specific project. How to find the best app developers easily?

4. No-one is keeping an eye on Ratings and Reviews

I was recently in a sales meeting with a large customer. I was showing him the feature on the Appboard whereby he could keep track of all the rating and reviews from the same page as his store analytics. He didn't get the point, why would anyone care, he asked. 

We looked up his latest app, checked the rating, it was consistently being awarded 1 star out of 5, well below the category average. He was horrified. "Its a great app," he spluttered, totally unwilling to believe what he was seeing. So we dug into the reviews. One after the other they complained about an inability to log in. He paled, pulled up the app, logged in. 

Or at least he tried to. 

Those reviews had been there for weeks, and all in the same month as the app was released. 

You need to be tracking your ratings and reviews

5.  There are no analytics inside the app

Huge numbers of apps are uninstalled almost as soon as they are opened and tried. Not all stores will tell you that so without in-app analytics there is no way to know how many users you actually have, which users are active, what they are doing, how often and how long they are in your app for. You can also go into specific details about events within your app if you set them up right but at a minimum you should be tracking users, sessions and session length. 

There are also other analytics you might like to include e.g. those reporting crashes and the reasons for them so that you know before users start writing nasty things about you. 

6. The actual app "file" hasn't been stored securely

There are loads of reasons why source code goes missing.

Developers are often keen to hold onto the code so that they can continue to do upgrades for you.

  • But developers can go out of business
  • Developers may not want to let you have the code if you have a falling out
  • Developer's computers are known to fail occasionally

If you take it in-house

  • Company comupters are also known to crash
  • Employees leave the company and no one else knows where the heck the files are
  • People lose stuff

You get the picture. The average enterprise app costs upwards of US$150k so shouldn't this be looked after like any other company asset? Its very painful to have to start from scratch because no one can find the files. 

7. There is no centralised management for mobile in your company.

From our perspective this is what we see all the time as a result;-

  • Inconsistent branding (you wouldn't dream of using different branding, colours and icons on a company brochure or website so why it is ok for inside your app or with your icon?)
  • Different in-app analytics providers so there is no way to collate and compare apps across the organization except painfully
  • Letting developers publish your app for you which means that their name is associated with the application which reduces the chances of your users finding you
  • Different publisher accounts so that again, even if a user finds your app under "Company A Ltd" and looks for more apps by you, they may not find them if you are published as "Company A", for example.
  • Massive numbers of duplications/similar apps
  • Duplications (see what I did there)
  • Lost learnings. Some of your team may be doing an awesome job with one app but no one else knows it so every new team building an app is starting from scratch.

Get your MWM Pipe infographic now


8. Your apps are not on the right stores

Apple's pretty much got the store thing sewn up (there are alternatives but let's not go there as they aren't legal - so moving swiftly on.....). 

Android's a 'whole 'nother ballgame'. 

You can't dump your app onto Googleplay and think you're done. Well you can but you are missing a trick unless you know all your users are on GP and will go straight there, without passing Go, without collecting $200. Mobile app distribution is important and getting more so.

For the rest of us its worth noting that putting your app onto an additional store can increase your downloads by up to 20%. Add the app to multiple stores and this number can reach as high as 200% (One Platform foundation). The top android appstores include Amazon, Opera, Samsung, Yandex but also directories etc that people use to find their apps. 

Now China, (because Google is not popular with the Chinese Government so you're dead in the water if you think GP will work for you there), has hundreds of Android stores but we'd recommend distributing to the top 20 maximum. 

Obviously the stores you chose depends on where and who you are targeting. Check out this infographic here to see the top 50 android appstores excluding Googleplay.

Oh, and don't forget it needs to be on your website. Lots of people will go to your site to try to find what apps you have so keep it very up to date. It also means there be no confusion its yours!

 9. You're hoping that you can "build it and they will come"

They won't. 

Even with iTunes and GP alone there are nearly a million and a half apps on each so dream on. 

You need to be making sure that the App Store optimization is done (ASO is like SEO but for the app stores), that you tell everyone and that you get them to tell everyone too (e.g including social in your app), that you are using all the channels available to promote your application e.g. SMS, social media, advertising, etc.

E-book: Increasing app downloads - Part 1


10. You didn't understand that apps are an iterative process.

Make sure you include an additional 15-25% of your app build budget for maintenance and updates. No matter how well you have tested the app before it is released once it is in the hand of your users you'll find a whole host of things that you didn't think about e.g. you pinned your location by drilling in on a google map but for you the pin started above your home town. Once users try it you realise that they are all starting above your home town so they have to zoom out before they can zoom in to their home town. Clearly not a great experience for your user and something that needs to be resolved. 

Also you'll find, once you dig into the analytics, that there are clear problems or things that you missed so you'll need to address those too. 

All in all, apps are how business is moving and hopefully how you are moving too. 

There are, however, some fundamental steps to get right though to avoid these pitfalls. Make sure you have this process right for your organization. 

And if you want an already built system that you can just slot into your organisation look no further. 

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