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“What should it do?” and other things to consider before developing an app

Mobile is the future and apps are cool. So, of course, you want to develop an app for your company, right? We talked to Anders Heibrock Mortensen, a Digital Advisor at Nodes’ Copenhagen office about what a company should consider before deciding to take the app-route to fulfil your dreams.

Anders is an experienced advisor who has the development of more than 70 different mobile apps on his resume – for all platforms and purposes – and is skilled in turning customers’ wants and visions into informative, fun and useful pieces of pocket-sized software.

“In my experience, apps are gradually moving away from being a fun add-on for companies and organisations to become a core part of business strategy. This creates a new environment for companies like Nodes; the need for us to be strategic advisors to our customers is more present than ever, and we take this responsibility seriously by making sure that they think everything through before we start building their app”, says Anders.

1. Consider: What is the purpose of your app?

Rule number one, according to Anders, is to consider what the purpose of your app is. Seems like a no-brainer, but a few years ago apps were all the rage and everybody wanted one – no matter what it did. Luckily, as Anders puts it, most customers are now well beyond the point of wanting a company app in order to impress customers and competitors, but the clearer the purpose of the app is, the easier the process is going forward.

The key is to put yourself in the user’s shoes: When and why will they want to use your app? When and why would you use it? When you know this, you know why you are building your app and what success looks like for you.

2. Consider: What is the market situation for your app?

The second rule is to research the market. Is there already more than a few apps doing the exact same thing that you are asking for? Then your app needs a spin in order to stand out – it might be a new user journey, a cool design or an additional (and useful) feature.

Consider doing a SWOT analysis to ascertain what your app’s unique selling point is – often a cursory search and a few keywords about target groups and competitors on a napkin will be enough to get a clearer perspective on the market for your particular app.

Similarly, if you are looking for an enterprise app, a few quick questions about functions and staff wishes in the email newsletter or in the weekly meeting could give you a lot of insights into the particular problems an app could help solve in your company. The more you know, the better we can help!

3. Consider: Which platforms are crucial to your purpose? Not everything needs to be in the AppStore

A third thing to consider on your journey toward blissful ‘app-iness is – of course! – platforms. Want to target Android-happy users? Or need an enterprise app for a company that has the iPhone as standard equipment? Choose accordingly.

If you are in doubt and don’t want to develop for iOS, Android and Windows Phone simultaneously, a web app or a gradual rollout could be your one-size-fits-most solution.

4. Consider: What is the budget? And what is your MVP, so you can stay within that budget

The last thing to make a few mental notes about before you pick up the phone is the budget. Most agencies can develop for small, medium and large budgets, but the key is that you don’t always need to bring a bunch of zeroes to the table in the first meeting.

Take some time to go through all the steps listed above and decide what your minimal viable product (MVP) is – then you will know exactly what features to cut from version 1.0 to keep within budget. Then – when you have your first use cases and a loyal user base – you can improve version 2.0 with all your awesome ideas and crazy new features.

“Of course you don’t have to know everything – especially about the technical stuff – before contacting us. But when you have considered these points, then you are the expert on YOUR particular app, which means that we advisors are in a much better position to help you realise your vision for whatever app that will make your 2015 awesome!”

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