If you’re looking to develop professional software, you should know these five mobile app development tools that are essential to any business.
Software development can be extremely complicated, and unless you have a plan for moving forward, you’ll face all kinds of problems along the way.
Designing a mobile app costs thousands of hard-earned dollars, making it important that you know how to proceed before signing any contracts to begin work. You should know what your app will look like, how it will work, and who will use it.
Failure to take these details into account will result in wasted time, money, and sanity as you watch your app sputter right as it’s supposed to launch. How can you avoid a problem like this? Simple—find the right tools to plan an app so that you and/or your developer have a clear vision of what to do.
Let’s take a look at five mobile app development tools that are essential to any business.
Establishing Brand Fundamentals
Hey, aren’t we supposed to be discussing mobile app development?
Yes, we are, and that means taking a hard look at your brand strategy.
Why? Because without a strong brand identity, your app has little chance of making more than a ripple in the ocean of mobile app technologies.
If you’ve built a business strong enough to seriously consider developing a mobile app, chances are you already have most of these tools in place. Still, mobile apps are compact, and they require that you employ all the brand strategy you can in a small space.
For example, if you’re dealing with an older generation of customers, building a high-tech mobile app with all the bells and whistles may not be the best choice. Better to keep buttons simple and limit any potential for confusion. This isn’t the same for a younger, smartphone-savvy audience.
Here’s a free brand workbook to look over and evaluate. Inside, you’ll find compelling questions to ask yourself about who you’re targeting and what you want to achieve.
When developing an app, make sure your developer has some background in marketing mobile apps. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of good marketing, so make sure you have that in place before you pay for any work to begin. Without a solid launch, your app is destined to rest among the many great ideas that never saw the light of day.
Take your time, and do it right.
Master Your SEO Game
So you have your brand established, you know what you’re looking to build, and you’re sure the app is going to be a hit. Branding is just the first step, and while it makes SEO work a lot easier, there’s still a lot to consider before launching your app.
SEO is how people find your app among relevant searches. Companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars—even millions—to ensure their products show up on the first page of search results. However, some clever planning can give you an advantage while keeping your wallet intact.
Start by understanding your target demographic and area. If you’re a restaurant looking to deliver food in New York City, narrow your target area down to just the local region. The broader your search area, the harder it’ll be for people to find you. Conversely, the smaller the region, the less competition you’ll face from other businesses nearby.
The name of the game in SEO is specificity. Rather than just saying “Italian restaurant in New York,” you should optimize for phrases like, “best Italian restaurant in Harlem New York.” Just those small changes dramatically increase the likelihood of your business being found by worthwhile customers.
Breaking Down Keywords
One great tool is Keywords Everywhere. It’s a browser add-on that tells you what people are searching for and when they’re doing it. Obviously, this has huge implications for your business. You’re no longer stuck hoping to make the right guess—now you have hard data.
Ubersuggest is another great, free tool that can give you insight into popular blog topics that are useful in SEO strategy. Giving attention to this will have huge dividends in the long run. The more your mobile app development includes strong keywords, the easier it will be for people to find your app, download it, and be satisfied with it.
On the other hand, winging it usually leaves people with low traffic and a lot of frustration.
Use Cases & You
SEO goes hand in hand with knowing exactly what your customers want and need. Before you build your app, you should know how your customers will use it. Seems simple enough, right? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Businesses spend thousands of dollars on UX/UI experts to ensure the pleasant and satisfactory experience of all their users. That money isn’t wasted, either, as a better user experience translates to more loyal users who continue supporting your brand’s products.
It starts with putting yourself in the user’s shoes. What should the app feel like? How complex will the interface be? What exactly will it achieve? Which features are worth including?
These questions may seem broad, but the better you can answer them, the less time and money you’ll spend on mobile app development. Start with use case diagrams by using tools like this one.
With a well thought out use case diagram, you can nip early problems in the bud without too much headache.
With detailed use cases, your software developer will have a clear, concise picture of exactly what you expect. Skip all the brainstorming and let your developer get to work.
User experience includes all those overlooked details that most of us forget about. When someone wants to make a selection, will it be from bubbles in a list or will it be a text box? What are your primary and secondary brand colors? Will you give users a chance to confirm deleting information before they do it? What shows up on the app menu?
You can see how easy it is to forget about all these details, so your attention to them will be what separates you from all the other apps.
Drawing It Out Yourself
One mobile app development tool that is essential to any business is the wireframe template, which lets you create a rough, black and white sketch of how your app will feel. By giving shape to the idea in your head, you can start establishing the fundamentals of your software.
Why does this matter? Because software development is a complicated process, and when developers have to make changes late in the game, it can cost so much that entire projects go bankrupt without even being able to launch their product. Wireframes force you to make tough decisions early on, making it easy for your developer to get on board with your idea and build a satisfactory product.
It doesn’t take as long as you might think—even just an hour or two dedicated to some design basics will make a world of difference in how your project proceeds. Plus, it’s exciting. You’ll get the first look at how your app will appear once it’s finished.
Because wireframes are only created in black and white, they push you to force on usability and little else. They go beyond the usual sitemap by requiring a basic layout of how menus and features will work, rather than just where they’ll be arranged.
Borrowing Others’ Ideas
You have enough to worry about during mobile app development. Don’t compound your troubles by trying to invent everything from scratch. There’s a better, smarter way that will give your customers a better overall product.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow you to use software developed by others and implement its features into your app. Every time your phone asks to access your contacts, microphone, etc., an API is handling an aspect of that app.
There are some great APIs out there. On top of that, sites like GitHub offer free code developed by other mobile app developers. You can use these features to enhance your app and make it more enjoyable for users. Talk to your developer about how you might be able to improve UX through the use of APIs.
The most important thing in mobile app development is planning. The more you can flesh out in the early stages, the easier it is to obtain the result you want. Proceeding without a plan is expensive, and you may run out of money before your app even gets a chance to launch.
Take advantage of these free tools to create the best, most useful product for your customers. Your app is an investment, and the best way to recover those costs is to build a great product people will use.
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