Business essentials in 2014 include a phone, website, and mobile app. Sixty years ago businesses were struggling with the necessity of a phone line, and twenty years ago it was a website. This change in the business standard was necessary because it was a way to connect with customers. Change is happening again with mobile devices. Smartphone in hand, customers are ready to connect with your business where they are. A business can no longer expect their customers to call with questions or wait until they are home to access your website.
A mobile app can seem like an overwhelming shift for your business, but inception to launch can be completed in 12 steps.
- Define. Establish a very clear goal with a defined purpose and mission.
- Sketch. Layout the mission and draw a rough sketch of the app features and layout.
- Research. Study your competitors’ apps, look for design inspiration and consider unique features to include. Also review the technical requirements and how you can market your app.
- Storyboard. Put together a wireframe and storyboard to create your app prototype. This roadmap will help you understand how the user will navigate the app.
- Back end. Draw a diagram of your servers, APIs and data diagrams to identify the foundation of your back-end structure.
- Test. Grant access to your wireframe to colleagues, friends, family and experts. Ask for their feedback for flaws and broken links. Any prototype changes should be done at this point, as they are more labor intensive once you have started building the app.
- Build. A clearly defined app is ready to begin the back end construction. The developer will setup servers, databases, APIs and storage solutions. Now is a good time to sign-up for developer accounts in the app marketplace. Approval will take several days and shouldn’t be left to the last minute.
- Skins. Integrate earlier feedback for designing the base of your user interface. The individual screens of your app are ready for high-resolution versions.
- Test, Again. If possible, include a larger testing group and scrutinize the look, feel, and usefulness of the app.
- Revise. Incorporate feedback from your users to polish the app. Changes can still be made to the layout or back end data feed.
- Refine. Continue to test and modify the app. Install on a device to test functionality in a live environment.
- Release! Submit to the app marketplaces. Familiarize yourself with their publishing policies, keeping in mind that Android and Apple each have different approval processes.
The mobile app creation will typically take about 18 weeks. During that time, be ready to devote time to your developers and designers. Without your focused attention and direction the app cannot reach its full potential.