Biz Ladies: What to Consider When Building a Business App


Illustration by David Saracino

Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Veronica Stenberg, a graphic designer, online marketer and digital consultant. Veronica has previously shared posts about online display advertising and understanding Google AdWords, and today she is offering her guidance on how to build an effective mobile app for your business. Thanks again, Veronica, for another helpful post! — Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump . . .

Today, applications are like the websites of the past. Everyone wants to build one, but they don’t really know why.

To help you build an application for your business or make a great application idea you might have a reality, I have put together these key points on strategy, design and technology that you need to consider before and during the process with your agency or freelancer.

Today we have a multitude of devices entering the market. Even though Apple iPhones are still in the majority as I write this, you now have to consider which devices to cater for.

If you are unsure whether you should build for iPhone or Android, you can find out which device your target audience uses by investigating your Google Analytics account (or other web analytics software you use).

In Google Analytics, look at the user statistics under Audience – Mobile – Device. You will get a complete list and accompanying statistics for the mobile devices with which your visitors access your website. You can use this to draw any conclusions.

Strategic

Before you contact an agency, make sure you have thought about the following:

1. Purpose of the app — Why are you developing an application?

2. The primary function for your app — Most popular apps have one or two main functions, like Instagram. (There are exceptions, of course.)

3. The environment in which and for which the app is likely to be used — Will the user be able to use this app on the go? Or during a specific situation? Perhaps then you need to design the application in a certain way, with bigger buttons etc. to cater to the environment and circumstance, in addition to considering any technical requirements needed to enable this.

4. The user of this application — Who is it for? Why would they use this application?

Design

The earlier in the design process you consider the below, the better. If you have not been much involved in the actual process of developing designs, these points come in handy when you evaluate the design proposals and for giving your feedback to the agency.

1. The interface — Make sure the buttons are big enough to tap.

2. Intuitive flow of information — You want this to be logical and to flow “naturally” when using the application.

3. Actual screen size or sizes (iPhones versus Androids) — Be aware of your target audience’s most common screen sizes, if you are creating an application for Android devices.

4. Can this be navigated using one hand only?

5. Aim to simplify.

6. Display only the most important and necessary information.

Technology

The following points on functionality and technology are useful to consider even before starting your project. The earlier, the better.

1. Is GPS functionality needed to track user location? Then an active internet connection is required for the application to work as intended.

2. Implement analytics (you can set up a Google Analytics profile to track interaction using a Google Analytics SDK for iOS).

3. The file size of the application — 50 MB (for iPhone) is the limit for a download using 3G network. Will this affect your application in terms of the context in which the application is downloaded? If the application size exceeds this limit, the user is required to connect to a WIFI to download the application.

4. Will all content be inside the application or will any of the content be downloaded? Then you will require an active internet connection for the application to work as intended.

5. How do you handle potential updates of content in the future?

Great Resources for More Information on Mobile and Applications

Our Mobile Planet — Find out more about mobile adoption and habits in your specific region or country. Compare 2011 data to 2012 data to detect trends.

The Mobile Playbook — Google’s guide to help you create a winning mobile-device strategy.

Stephen

I realize this post was for the ladies, but I stumbled upon via BizSugar. And I am glad I did. Veronica and Stephanie, this is a concise, but thorough guide to make sure your app isn’t a waste of time and money. Thanks!

Megan

Great advice. I also feel like some businesses jump into building apps when what they really need is a website optimized for mobile users.

Martin Lindeskog

Veronica: Thanks for presenting a check list on what to consider when you want to build a business application. Your first point (1. Purpose of the app — Why are you developing an application?) is the key. You hear stories about companies that want to create an app due to the fact that their competitors have done so. They haven’t found their “why” yet…

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