In a previous blog post we talked about working collaboratively, and now we’re going to delve a bit further into the specifics of planning a mobile application. Part of working together as client and service provider is having both sides understand what is needed to enable the idea that is forming to come together, and making sure the project has adequate support to go live.
These are the three key areas to prepare before embarking on an app or mobile site development:
1) Create content for mobile
As a service provider focused on development, we are not able to provide extensive content creation services and often get clients approaching us with ideas that require content but with nothing pre-prepared. One of the biggest delay issues for a project is due to the content not being in a form we can work with. This content cannot magically appear from nowhere, it needs to be produced by the client, outsourced or licensed.
When embarking on a mobile project, content creation/adaptation can be a lengthy process. The format of mobile requires content to be adapted in order to create the best experience for the user. This goes for images, video, or any other content that should be in the app.
DMI can provide a service to modify content but this requires extra resources being directed to the project. With mobile becoming more prevalent the recommendation is for any new content to be created with mobile, or any other channel it may be used for, in mind. Thinking mobile first and producing all content for mobile means it will be applicable for most other formats, saving time and energy.
2) Understand what is going on in the background
When thinking about concepts and ideas for an app/site it’s essential to understand- what are the mechanics that are going to allow it to work? Most apps generally require more than the frontend, and are integrated into a backend server to serve content, a search result, or ability to capture data etc.
For example, let’s say a client says, ‘I would like to locate the user, understand who they are, and suggest what product in the app they should buy’. When you’re serving something dynamically it has to come from somewhere, so if you don’t have the database with the product in it, or the logic to understand that person A should get X result, it has to come from something like a backend, content management system, or a database.
As a company, DMI can provide many different backend elements, and we’re used to supporting varying system architecture requirements. Sometimes we provide all the backend, or more often than not a middleware between a client’s existing backend and the app with maybe additional backend components. Essentially, we must plan out whether we need to provide any integration to a backend, such as Facebook, or an existing backend like a CMS. This can really impact time and costs and is one of the key areas that delays finalising a project.
Other key questions that also need to be asked are;
- Who is hosting any backend? DMI works closely with Google App Engine but we can work with any hosting provider.
- What type of service level agreement is expected when DMI is providing hosting?
Additionally, analytics is an essential part of understanding how your mobile channel is performing and we recommend thinking about it prior to development. Knowing how the analytics can meet business requirements can make the difference between a successful app and a failed one.
Another area to consider is if permission is needed to access certain data in the app; think about how long it will take to get permission to access the content and how often it’s updated. Know the walls around the content and how the app needs to work with it, for example, maybe the app refreshes in the background if the backend seeks new information.
3) Make sure mobile becomes part of all your marketing–
If you don’t tell the end user about the app, you cannot rely on them discovering it on their own. We’ve seen companies make the mistake of doing small bits of marketing, like only adding promotion on Facebook or an Apple app store logo on their website with very little information on what the app is and its purpose…there are also companies that do a good job of promoting their app on their corporate website but bury any information on their consumer website. The message is that the app needs to become part of all your marketing and not bolted on or left out. If you are going to invest in an app, give it the best possible chance to be successful. This requires further budget to be allocated for media spend around the app and ensuring it is very visible to the user with a clear call to action to download and use.
Three rules to ensure your app is well marketed:
- Ensure the app is part of your main marketing and comm’s strategy. Ensure the app is referred to as much as other channels such as websites, etc.
- Make sure your user knows what the app is, what it’s a part of, and how it will benefit the user.
- Keep up with ongoing updates; provide a good reason for new downloads and continuous usage throughout the app’s life cycle. Don’t forget to check your churn rate- downloads don’t mean a user will use it.
A particular case of outstanding app promotion is O2 priority moments and the fact that they had 3 million downloads in the first few weeks – though they did spend millions on ATL advertising and have the app as part of all their device and service marketing.
This is the general thought process we encourage all our clients to go through in preparing and planning mobile applications. During collaborative workshops, we consider this preparation criteria to ask questions that could challenge the concept. It all goes into making sure the project is a success!
Image courtsey of Assembly Co.