How to Develop a Winning Mobile App
Why Do Most Apps Fail? Avoiding the Common Mistakes
Mobile apps can fail for many reasons.
But there's one reason that stands out from the crowd - one that we see over and over again.
It's like the recurring theme of failure, the foundation that all other reasons pile on top of.
This sneaky little reason hides in the seemingly harmless thought process of average startup:
"I've got an idea! I'll just tell the guys at the development company (or my in-house tech team, if I've got one) and they will turn it into a working product."
Now, if you're building a mobile app with the mindset of "I'm making a mobile app," you're already on the road to ruin.
Hold up, you might be thinking. What's so bad about that?
How else am I supposed to do it?
Make my app like it's a chair? Or a bicycle?
Alright, let's clear up one simple, yet crucial point right here.
Sure, you can develop a mobile app, create an online store, or whip up some snazzy software - but these are just the technical bells and whistles of your project.
At the core, you're in the business-building game. That means everything revolves around your business model, the foundation you're banking on (don't worry, we'll dive deeper into business models later on).
You've gotta get this: even the coolest, most genius programmers are still just programmers.
They ain't business-building wizards!
We often hear from entrepreneurs who need to develop a mobile application:
they stroll into a software company, lay out their project idea in detail,
and then get assigned a manager who's supposed to analyze competitors, dissect the features of similar apps, and then help whip up a list of functions for their mobile app.
So, you've been assigned a 25-30-year-old manager who has only ever worked as an employee and has never built a single business, and you're expecting them to help you analyze competitor businesses and advise you on how to kick their butts?
The kicker is, the problem with development studios (or your in-house tech crew) is that they're gonna crank out a mobile app for you, not a business.
But, c'mon, you don't want to end up with a slick mobile app that doesn't generate revenue, right?
Now, check this out!
If you corner even the sharpest mobile app guru and ask 'em about the core components of a mobile app, what are they gonna tell you?
Probably something like this:
The basic elements of a mobile application:
1. User Interface (UI):
Screens: The visual components, like pages or views, that users interact with.
Navigation: The system that allows users to move between different parts of the application.
Controls and components: Buttons, text input fields, sliders, and other interactive elements that enable user interaction.
2. User Experience (UX):
Layout and design: The arrangement of elements on the screen and the visual design that affects the overall look and feel of the application.
Responsiveness: Ensuring the app performs well on different screen sizes, resolutions, and orientations.
Accessibility: Designing the app to be usable by people with various disabilities, such as vision or hearing impairments.
3. Functionality and logic:
Application logic: The code that determines how the app processes user inputs and performs tasks.
Data storage and retrieval: Methods for storing and accessing data, such as local databases or remote servers.
APIs and web services: Interfaces that allow the app to communicate with external services, like fetching data from a server or interacting with third-party services.
4. Platform-specific code and libraries:
Native libraries: Platform-specific code and tools that enable access to device features and optimize performance.
Cross-platform frameworks: Tools that allow developers to write code once and deploy it on multiple platforms (e.g., React Native, Flutter).
5. Security and authentication:
User authentication: The process of verifying the identity of users, often through usernames and passwords or social media logins.
Data encryption: Techniques for protecting sensitive data both in transit and at rest.
Secure coding practices: Implementing best practices to prevent security vulnerabilities, such as input validation and proper error handling.
6. Testing and optimization:
Unit testing: Writing and executing tests for individual components or functions to ensure they work as intended.
Integration testing: Verifying that the different parts of the application work together correctly.
Performance optimization: Identifying and resolving performance bottlenecks to ensure a smooth user experience.
These are the key parts of a mobile application, and they collectively contribute to its overall functionality, user experience, and performance.
Was that answer correct?
Absolutely! Those are indeed the essential components of a mobile app.
But here's the twist. It wasn't the answer that was wrong, it's the question you're asking.
The right question is a whole different game:
How can I build a business model for my mobile app biz that'll make it a success, rake in the profits, and keep on growing?
As you might guess, it's not the programmers you should be asking this question. Instead, as the founder of the project, you should be asking yourself.
So if you approach creating a mobile application as a business, the key points that you need to clarify for yourself before coming to developers become clear.
Let's briefly go over the most important ones (if you're an entrepreneur, you should be well familiar with them, you just need to apply them in the context of app development).
Of course, any business begins with answering the key question, "Who are we going to sell our product to?".
The same logic and questions apply to a mobile application:
Which main user segments is our app designed for?
What key pains and needs of the target audience will your app address?
How is your target audience currently addressing these needs? Are there other mobile apps on the market that help them meet their needs?
And are you sure you can satisfy these needs better than the existing players? :)
If you are, then you can answer the next question:
What's your Unique Value Proposition?
Through what unique combination of your app's features will you be able to meet the needs of your target audience better than the current market players do?
How is the key idea of your app cooler than others?
At the same time, it's important to soberly assess your competitors, especially if you plan to enter an already filled market.
For example, we often meet people who have an idea like, "We'll make a Tinder clone and capture a share of the dating app market!"
And we ask them, "Are you sure you can offer the market a more interesting Value Proposition? And do you have the resources to compete with existing serious players?"
There's no point in creating "just another mobile app". It more likely won't take off.
Because at the core of truly successful apps always lies a Unique Value Proposition.
For example, the Robinhood app has best realized the idea of "Investing for Everyone." Essentially, Robinhood's UVP democratizes stock trading, letting anyone buy and sell stocks without commissions.
Strava has become The #1 app for runners and cyclists. Strava's UVP is in its specific focus on these two groups of athletes, providing detailed tracking and social features for runners and cyclists.
The DocuSign Mobile App has a rating of 4.9 in the AppStore because it perfectly represents the idea of "Prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements on your mobile device."
So, one of the key questions of your business model is - what Unique Value Proposition will you build it on?
Have you studied your market well enough to be sure that this offer will indeed be unique? Do you have enough resources for the development of a project with such an offer?
Attracting and retaining users
Do you already understand how you will attract new users, which advertising channels will you use?
What cost per acquisition indicators are you targeting? Can your business model work with such indicators?
However, the problem for new projects often arises not so much in attracting new users (although this is also not easy), but in retaining those already attracted.
Do you know that on average about 90% of users who have installed any mobile app stop using it within a month?
So, the key task is not even to attract new users, but to retain them. Otherwise, the money spent on attracting new users is money down the drain.
Do you understand how you will onboard new users? How will your push notification system be set up? How do you plan to push the user to re-enter your app again and again and perform some actions there?
One of the key indicators in business is LTV (Customer Lifetime Value). This indicator is about how much money one customer brings you on average for the time he remains your customer.
Accordingly, the fight here is for two components of this indicator: for the time the client is with you (we need him to be with us as long as possible) and for the revenue he brings.
It would be good if you already had at least a basic understanding of your strategy for onboarding and increasing LTV before starting to develop an app.
The financial model usually consists of several components. To start, of course, you need to understand what method (methods) of monetization you plan to use.
Will you make money on a subscription and plan to charge users monthly fees? Will there be a one-time payment when installing the app?
Will you make money on transactions that users make within your app?
Or maybe you will work on a White-label model, offering a customizable, ready-to-use app platform that can be rebranded and sold to other businesses?
Of course, such a choice will significantly affect the architecture and logic of your app.
Part of the financial model is already mentioned cost per acquisition and LTV. Because the idea of monetization can be quite successful, but if you cannot achieve acceptable cost per acquisition and customer lifetime indicators, the financial model may not be effective.
It's also important to remember that you will have monthly expenses that also need to be considered in your financial model.
Such as costs for servers, SMS sending services for authorization, Google maps (yes, Google needs to be paid for using their maps :) ) and other services necessary for the normal operation of your app.
As the number of users increases, these costs, of course, will also grow.
Key business processes
Underneath the sleek screens of any successful mobile app, there are often complex and resource-intensive business processes at play.
Take Badoo, the well-known dating app. Besides its standard dating app features, the company has developed numerous security features to ensure users are real and verified.
For example, they have a photo verification process where users upload a photo imitating a certain pose, which is then reviewed by one of Badoo's 5,000 moderators within a minute.
See, the process of managing these 5,000 moderators is a separate complex task that goes far beyond the app itself. And in the app, it's just one feature. You can't compete with Badoo by simply copying their interface.
Another example: Uber is not just an app connecting customers and drivers.
Behind it all is a complex system managing business processes such as dynamic pricing (based on supply and demand), a rating system for drivers and passengers, payment processing, insurance, and logistics software to optimize routes.
So, let's sum it up.
If you're looking at creating a mobile app just as implementing a set of functions - the likelihood of failure is quite high.
It's better to view this project as the embodiment of a specific business model. We've tried to list the key elements in this article (there are a few more, but these are the main ones).
If you'd like to develop your mobile app with this approach, then we'll easily find common ground.
That's because our company always views the development process from a business perspective, through the eyes of an entrepreneur. Keeping in mind the business goals set by our client.
What could be the first step in our collaboration?
We're advocates of the Gentle Shore Approach.
In our opinion, it makes sense to start with a short work sprint, giving you a taste of our work ethic, expertise, and vibe. And in general, to see if we're on the same wavelength.
If you're at the "I only have an app idea" stage.
What's the first easy step we can take to kick your idea into high gear, and what will help move your project to the next stage?
We will set up a week of sessions with you, and during that time, we'll:
Nail down your app's business objectives:
Figure out the exact problems/tasks it'll tackle for your target audience
Work out how it'll make you money and the business processes needed to make it happen
Use those business objectives to whip up a list of core features.
Sketch out a few key screens of your future app, so you've got a clear picture of how it'll look.
Provide you with an approximate estimate of the budget and timeline for developing an app like yours.
By the end, you'll have a solid grasp of your project's logic, a feel and vision for how your app might look, and an understanding of the resources you'll need to make it happen (both financially and in terms of supporting business processes).
Now, about the cost of this work package:
We see this stage as the "first step into the water" in our Gentle Shore Approach.
So we're setting the bargain price at €450
(basically just covering the designer's cost, while the top dogs of our team will be working with you on this :) ).
And here's the kicker - if at any point you feel unsatisfied with our work, you can have your money back. No questions asked.
That's right, we're so sure of our top-notch work that we've got no qualms about offering guarantees like this.
Before we dive in, let's have a quick 15-minute chat to iron out the technical details (it's free :) ).
If you're at the stage where you "already have a detailed project essence, a list of key features, and a few key screens sketched out,"
it makes sense to work on a set of tasks that will fully prepare you to start the actual app development process.
We'll dive deep into your app's business logic and turn it into a mobile application User flow / Screen flow.
What is a User flow?
The User flow of a mobile application is essentially the path a user takes within the app to reach their end goal.
This includes all buttons, forms, menus, and screens they interact with, as well as the transitions between them.
Based on the User flow, we'll create a clickable prototype of your mobile app in Figma.
What is a prototype in Figma?
A mobile app prototypes in Figma is a model or mockup of your app that lets you test out your ideas before you build the real thing.
We will create a prototype by linking together different screens of your app and adding interactive elements like buttons, menus, and forms.
This way, you can simulate how your app will work and get a feel for the user experience before you start coding.
Plus, it's a great way to get feedback from others and make improvements to your design before you invest time and money in development.
We'll suggest the technologies that your mobile app can be built on.
We'll provide an estimate of the budget and timeline needed for developing an app of this caliber.
By the end, you'll have a comprehensive User flow / Screen flow, a Figma prototype of your mobile app, recommended technologies for building it, and an estimated budget and timeline.
So, you'll be all set to begin the actual app development, having fine-tuned and tested your ideas, ultimately saving you time and resources down the line.
The price tag for this stage?
Super affordable. In fact, we spend much more time into these tasks than the cost we're quoting you here.
However, we believe that (if we start collaborating from this stage) within our Gentle Shore Approach, this will allow you to test-drive working with us - all comfy and cost-effective.
This phase will set you back just €2,700.
Just like the previous block of work, we guarantee that if you find yourself unhappy with the work we've done, we'll refund your money.
No fuss, no hassle.
We're so confident in the quality of our work that we have no hesitation in providing guarantees like this one.
If you already have a working app that is either:
1) at the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) stage, essentially the first release, which you're testing with your target audience,
2) a stable, functioning product that has successfully launched and now needs intensive development,
and you need to quickly expand your team of developers, we can offer a team extension using the Gentle Shore Approach.
Specifically, we can start with a 2-week development sprint at a special price.
Now, normally, two weeks of work by one of our developers is about €4,000 (slightly depending on the programmer's skill level and specialization).
However, to kick off our collaboration on the most comfortable terms, we have a special price for the first 2-week development sprint - €2,400 for two weeks of work from one of our code wizards.
And as always, we've got that "first step into the water" covered with our money-back guarantee - if you're not satisfied with our specialists' work, we'll refund the payment for this test sprint, no sweat.
We think it's a pretty fair and secure way to roll, don't you? :)
By the way, let's clarify things: why are we offering a money-back guarantee for every type of our starter services?
We mean, this isn't a common practice in the development studio world, right? Why are we taking this approach?
The thing is, we work with most of our long-term clients for years. Often, we take on the role of creating their entire product lineup (check out our "Technological Marriage" section for more on this).
We achieve this because we aim to work only with clients with whom we've got that special "chemistry of mutual understanding."
If our views on the fundamentals of working together don't line up with a potential client, the sooner we figure that out, the better - for both of us.
So, our test drive with a money-back guarantee if you're not thrilled about our collaboration is our Gentle Shore Approach that does two things:
1) lets clients safely and comfortably take our services for a spin (we're totally confident in their top-notch quality), and
2) helps both us and the client quickly figure out if we're a match for the long haul.
Just to wrap things up, let us share a few facts about our company
5Pro App Development is a division of our company, 5Pro Software, which was started in 2001 in Frankfurt/Oder, Germany.
We've been in the mobile development market for over 20 years, pretty much since the industry began.
We have clients in 28 countries around the globe.
On one hand, we know how to work with big, complex projects for large companies:
Our first client was Deutsche Telekom :)
For a long time, we were an official partner of Nokia (during their heyday in the mobile device market)
Among our clients are:
On the other hand, we've got a bunch of clients who are small and medium-sized business owners, and with our help, they've launched and grown their very first mobile app (these folks are our absolute favorites!).
For them, we've designed the Technological Marriage Approach.
Check out some of our projects here
What really gets us excited are those challenging tasks that demand out-of-the-box solutions and seem like mission impossible at first.
So, if you're vibing with everything we've laid out on this page and you have a task you'd like us to help you with, let's set up a quick Zoom call.
We can meet, look each other in the eye, and figure out how we can make some magic happen together.