Three Steps Companies Should Consider When Developing a Mobile App
Mobile App Development 101
Do you have an idea for a mobile application? Have you found a problem that needs to be solved with a digital solution? The process of developing a mobile application is more than just designing and building technology. It requires a deep understanding of the market, the users, and the specific end problem/s that you are looking to solve. With the proliferation of smartphones in society, small startups and large enterprise companies have the ability to develop products that can solve real problems for users in everyday life. Mobile app stores (Android and Apple) provide a medium for users to download specific applications that can solve their unique needs. Whether it’s seeking a way to get from point A to point B (Lyft, Bird, Zipcar, etc) or seeking a temporary boredom distractor (Reddit, Angry Birds, Youtube, etc), apps serve a purpose in providing the user with a solution to a problem, no matter how big or small. If a company is looking to build a mobile application, there are a series of steps they should take to validate a concept before they even begin the process of development. Building the right mobile application is an investment, and ensuring that there is alignment with the problem, customers, market and solution is critical before the design and development process even begins. Today we will talk about the three steps that any organization should take before they build a mobile application. Before building a mobile application, a company should:
- Identify a problem.
- Research the problem.
- Validate the problem.
Identifying a Problem
Let’s start with identifying a problem. Our world is filled with problems. There are always opportunities to make our lives easier by solving small and large problems. Smartphones provide a universal toolkit to solve problems. Think of all of the problems that our devices have already solved. Our phones act as a flashlight, a telephone, a computer, a camera, a facilitator of transportation, etc. Through our devices, we can purchase whatever we would like and define our own level of convenience. The examples highlighted above are relatively simple solutions to problems that all users face but only represent a fraction of what can be solved. Each industry (regardless of how niche) has a subset of problems that can be solved. Take for example our client Operation 36. Operation 36 realized there were not many simple ways to measure and simplify golf improvement. So Operation 36 created a mobile application experience for users to monitor their improvement on varying courses. Through their technology, a golfer can simplify the process of improvement. By combining their team’s golf experience with a software solution, Operation 36 is well positioned to dominate the golfing market.
Researching the Problem
Next, let’s talk about researching the problem. After determining that something is a problem, it is critical to understand the monetary value associated with solving this problem. It is possible to quantify this value by analyzing the Total Addressable Market (TAM) and other factors. By understanding market factors like TAM, companies can discover the benefits of developing a solution for any given problem and recognize the return that is possible by developing a mobile app solution. A prime example of this is our client Draft Kings. Draft Kings knew that users were interested in betting on sports games with their friends during peak season and wanted a responsive platform to do so. The market for sports betting is estimated to be 150 Billion. Draft Kings recognized that by developing a product that provides accessibility for these users (a mobile app), they would increase their customer base and engagement levels. Thus, Draft Kings knew they could solve a direct problem and see an immediate revenue impact by developing a mobile responsive application. By taking this development approach, Draft Kings is out positioning its competitors for future revenue growth and expansion.
Validating the Problem
Finally and most importantly, in the process of analyzing a problem, it is critical that organizations validate their problems by talking to their users/customers. In the first two steps, it is very easy to make assumptions about both problems that exist for users and the potential markets that they represent. Fundamentally you can create a product to solve a problem, but this product must represent a big enough pain-point for users to pay for or even download a solution. To ensure there is a need and product-market fit for a solution, user testing and surveys are a great way to hear direct feedback from end-users to reduce assumptions and build the best solutions. By creating clear alignment with end users and their preferences, organizations have the best opportunity to be true innovators and to reap the revenue rewards.
By taking the three steps outlined above, organizations can ensure they are creating a solution that aligns with a clear problem, potential market, and their end users. Mobile applications open the door of possibility to reach a broader population of users with a product that they will engage with for years to come. By taking these steps, organizations will have the foundation set for the development of their mobile solutions.
Rob Jordan is the head of business development at Lithios. Rob helps translate business problems into technical specifications for the development team. In his free time he enjoys getting booed as a standup comedian.