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8 Questions to Consider Before Building a Mobile App.

Usability, demand, and affordability should factor into your development roadmap.

The world of software development has been dramatically changed by the recent advancements in technology. Many skilled individuals around the world have rushed to take advantage of these new tools that make real-time transcontinental inter connectivity a reality. This change, coupled with globalization, present the perfect opportunity for mere mortals like us, to get into the software business. 

Here are a few questions to consider before you devote resources to developing your first mobile app.

What do I build and who will buy it?

To figure this out, I suggest you look at the industry you are in or at least have access to. So perhaps you know a bunch of pastors or you are an engineer. Being in a particular field gives you the advantage of knowing which tools would make your work much easier. 

You are in the perfect position to know what your potential user/customer will need as far as features go. Look current solutions and find out where there may be gaps in features. This is a good starting point for product development.

Will my app be used by businesses or consumers?

This is important because selling to businesses and selling to consumers have different challenges. For example, businesses spend more on software as a necessity for doing their jobs. Think Salesforce or Slack, While consumers spend discretionary dollars on apps. Think Netflix, Tinder, Myfitnesspal etc.

Business-to-business (B2B) sales have longer sales cycles than business-to-consumer (B2C). You can also make a dent in your market by selling to small businesses, REALLY small businesses. They tend to make buying decisions faster. Think hard a and create a detailed buyer persona for your app. The more details the better.

Is there demand for this kind of app?

Use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find out if people have been searching for such a solution. Do a search to see who out there provides that service. Gauge how crowded the space is and if you were to get in, what problem will you solve that the others don't.

Signup for a Google Adwords account, then go to the “Tools” link and click on Keyword Planner. Type in all the keywords you think someone would use if they were looking for your potential app. Google will provide you with the number of searches done for your specific keywords and any other associated versions. You want to take note of the ones that get the most searches and search for them in to see who provides a solution. Size up the competition to see how you can do better.

Is this a convenience or is this mission-critical?

This is important to know, as it drives demand and sales overall. Before we built our first software product, we were intimately aware of the gap in the market that the entrenched players did not fill. This is what made it easy for our app to appear in top searches on Google thus driving 100% free traffic.

Is this a one-to-many or one-to-one app?

This is important as it will shape the infrastructure you assemble to sell your app. Will you have to recruit your wife and kids to sell for you? or will most people go to your website and understand enough about your app to signup?

Can people try it first?

This seems like a strange question if you are not currently a tech entrepreneur, but think about it. If you are offering a service that helps people find lost loved ones, you might not want to offer a free trial. Hopefully, most people will not need your service more than once, if at all. But if you are offering a piece of software that helps low tech churches collect offering and disseminate messages to their members, then a free trial will be key to gaining traction.

If you choose to go with the free trial, then you should know that only about 5% of your website visitors will try your app and out of that, about 3% will convert to paying customers. You can still send special offers to the free trial users who have not converted to paying customers and incentivize them to take the plunge.

How will you price your mobile app?

Your pricing model will depend on what others are charging for similar apps, as well as demand. The subscription pricing model is best these days as it provides recurring income.  This helps the resale value of your business. 

A subscription business is usually priced at about 110 x monthly revenue. That said, you want to make sure you price your app competitively and also introduce a price that fits with your buyer persona. 

Tip: Don’t spend too much time on this. Many companies have changed their pricing models over the years. Even giants like Microsoft and Adobe have made a big shift to a subscription model. Pick a price and launch your beta. You can always adjust pricing later. The market will tell you how they feel about your prices anyway.

Can I ask my potential customers first?

There are a couple of ways to generate interest in your app before launch:

The easy way is to just write down the names of all the folks you think you know who could benefit from your app and ask them what they think.

Also, ask if they would pay for such an app and even try to get some financial commitments to help pay for the production of the app. 

The hard way is to put up a website with some basic visuals about the app and provide as much information as you can. Then set up a page where interested parties can sign up to be on a waiting list.

Use Google search console and analytics to track who comes to the site, and more importantly what keywords they used. Keep track of these keywords as you can use them to build keyword clusters later. 

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