Social networking apps are extremely popular. When it comes to custom app development for social networking, the possibilities are endless. While most of us are familiar with apps like Facebook and LinkedIn, creating one that attracts and engages isn’t exactly second nature.
If you’re ready to recruit a custom app developer and bring your vision to life, there are some things you should know about the process before getting started.
The Benefits of a Social Networking App
While some social networking apps are used for personal or professional purposes—such as Facebook and LinkedIn—they also work great for keeping in touch with your clientele. For businesses, social networking apps can establish your brand, deliver relevant content, and broaden your loyal customer base.
In short, social networking apps drive engagement. But the way you build your app will help or hinder you in reaching this goal.
How Do You Build a Social Networking App?
Do you know who your app is for? Any decisions you make while designing your app will have to keep this in mind. Knowing your target audience gives you better ideas about the needs and parameters of your app.
Are you targeting young people or professionals? Will people spend lots of time on your app, or will they get what they need and go? Focusing seriously on this first step will give your app the best chance at success.
Let’s take a look at some important things to consider before you get started on development.
Know What Your App Will Do
Whether you want to build a client base or provide space to build meaningful relationships, you have to know what kind of experience your app will provide.
Ask yourself: how will we know our app is a success? By outlining these benchmarks, you’ll have a better idea about how to make the rest of your design decisions.
Market research, such as surveys like these, can tell you what your competitors are doing and which niche you’ll have to fill. There are lots of different networking apps out there—know which needs your app will serve and how.
How to Make Your Social Networking App a Success
One good thing about having so many social networking apps is how much data there is out there. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. By following a few key steps, your custom app will engage your audience in all the right ways.
Of all the best practices, none is more important than this one: keep it simple.
When it comes to custom app development, bells and whistles don’t compare to software with straightforward, user-oriented focus and design.We all know the frustration that comes after downloading an app that’s impossible to navigate. You either leave it to collect virtual dust on your home screen or you delete it out of frustration.
To avoid driving people bonkers, create a workflow and design that is simple to start and meets your users’ needs. Remember, you can always add features later.
In your market research, note which apps have the best UX and ease of navigation. For the ones that work best, look into what works best and why, then integrate those characteristics into your design.
While testing your prototype, ask yourself this: could a brand new user figure out your app without a tutorial?
If the answer is yes, you’re on your way to an awesome app! If not, pinpoint what makes it clunky and figure out how to streamline it.
By the way, simple doesn’t mean boring or bare. You still want to include features that allow your users to engage in meaningful ways that keep them coming back.
Some common features you might want to consider are:
- User profiles with the standard elements: name, picture, bio, cover photo, etc.
- Content or news feeds which show users how others in their network engage on the app
- Post creation and engagement, such as likes, comments, and shares
- A chat or messaging feature
- Social notifications within the app to keep the user engaged, and push notifications to keep users coming back
- A search bar to let users find what they want in the app
- Forum boards or groups so users can engage with others around a particular topic or issue
- Page settings and setup to give users control over their privacy and profile settings
Once you’ve decided which of these features make sense for your app, you can build them into the UI/UX that is easy to figure out and keeps interactions going.
Connect to Other Social Apps
If your goal is to grow a user base, it has to be easy to get started. Letting new users create profiles with existing social networking accounts simplifies the sign-up process. When new users have an easy time joining, they invite their friends, adding another layer to their social connection. You benefit as your networking web grows with each new user.
Smooth Transition from Web Page to App
For years now, mobile web engagement has outpaced engagement from other devices. Optimize your app for mobile use, then make sure your web page and web app follow suit.
When a user visits your website, they should be prompted to download your app for a more optimal, personalized experience. The transition from web page to app should be seamless—the design and navigation should be similar and allow the user to adapt to your app more quickly.
Step by Step: Developing Your Custom Social Networking App
Start with strategy. Know your audience, your app’s purpose, and how you want it to stand out. This takes market research. Create a profile of your ideal user and analyze the work your competitors are doing.
Before moving forward, define key performance indicators (KPIs) that tell you if your app is performing or not.
You should also sketch out your app’s workflow. Create a basic outline of your app and how you want the user to engage. Having this eagle eye view mapped out makes it easier on both you and your development team.
Now that you understand the basic workflow, it’s time to wireframe your app. Create a visual, barebones blueprint of the different screens in your app so you can determine how things will flow. This helps you develop the logic for your workflow.
Ironing Out the Wrinkles with Prototyping
Think of your prototype as the “first draft” of your app. This working model gives you and your team the first look at how the app looks and feels, helping you spot any stumbling blocks that need to be worked out.
Design app skins to convert wireframes into social app design. Your team will consider current trends, popular features, and the UI/UX you are trying to achieve.
The last step before launch in custom app development for social networking is QA. This is when you take what you’ve learned from your prototype and build the app backend. Once APIs, databases, and servers are set up, your team needs to test the app.
In order for your app to be available to iOS and Android devices, you’ll have to meet their platform standards and technical requirements. QA will address these requirements.
Publish & Marketing
Unless your app draws attention, no one will ever know it exists. You need promotional materials such as screenshots, a description of your app, and video tutorials. It’s also important to place your app in the right category.
Marketing is an essential part of getting your app into your audience’s hands. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it’s a good idea to budget for how to market your app in creative ways.
What Comes Next
After your app launches, prepare for feedback. There will be bugs and errors to fix, but quick response times will ensure your users feel heard and understood. Your app will need consistent maintenance and updates, all of which serves to improve your UI/UX and build loyalty among users.
With some preparation and the right developer, you’ll be on your way to creating a custom social networking app that propels your venture forward!
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