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Android App Development, iOS App Development, mobile strategy
By Colleen Nitta, Atimi Software Inc.

Here’s a hard truth that most app developers don’t want to hear: the majority of the millions of apps available for download in app stores today are never going to find success. The fact is, the app market is overloaded with apps that don’t provide enough value to the end user and they are outperformed by their competitors. To avoid ending up in the pile of apps that never did and never will succeed, it’s paramount that you have a concrete mobile strategy in place before launching your app. Whether your app is consumer or employee facing, we’ve come up with some helpful tips for building a winning mobile strategy that’s sure to help your app succeed.

1. Determine Your Goals

As with all strategies in business, the first step in building an app mobile strategy is to define your goals and objectives. Before you start planning for app development, come up with a wish list for what you want your app to have and why – if you don’t have the “why” piece, you won’t be creating an app that makes sense for your enterprise.

Here are some questions to get you started:

a. Why are you building an app?
b. Who is your app for (customers or employees)?
c. Is your app going to improve the lives of others and how will it do that (for instance, will it enhance your employees’ productivity or entertain consumers and if so, how)?

Be sure to look for an app development company that will help you define your goals and build a sustainable mobile strategy. For instance, the first step in Atimi’s process is to work closely with you to create an app blueprint that’s tailored to your needs. We know the right questions to ask to get our clients thinking through the fine details that separate the outstanding apps from the merely good apps.

2. Do Your Homework

Another key element in any successful mobile strategy is research. In order to understand what your users are looking for in an app and demonstrate why they should choose your app over others, you must have done some research on your competitors (if consumer facing) and users. Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll be in a better position to build an app that your users will enjoy.

3. Define Your Monetization Plans

There are several ways in which you can monetize your consumer app. Let’s run through three of the most popular options:

A. In-App Ads (Free With Advertising)

As App Developer Magazine stated in a recent article, “Ads can prove to be a successful option if you collect data about your customers because you have the opportunity to show them highly-targeted ads”. Targeting is what makes in-app ads so appealing to advertisers, so if you opt to go this route, be sure to have a plan for how you’ll track your users’ data. For instance, your app could utilize a device’s GPS so that relevant ads can be shown to users based on their location. Alternatively, your app signup form might include demographic and psychographic information such as gender, age, geographic region, and interests. If you can collect meaningful user data, you’ll attract marketers with advertising dollars to spend. As a testament to this type of advertising, a recent study found that in-app advertising grew by 66% in the US last year to $21 billion and is expected to increase to $35 billion in the coming years. This explosive growth in ad spend is promising for app developers everywhere.

One thing to be mindful of when venturing into in-app ad monetization is that you must always respect your users’ privacy and put them first. As premium ad platform, Jun Group, was quoted saying in a recent Appticle blog post, “The best practice continues to be to ask audiences before gathering, storing and using their mobile data. Let consumers opt-in to a better ad experience, but if they do not want to be tracked or have their data used, publishers and advertiser should respect that.” We couldn’t agree more.

B. Paid App (Free With Advertising)

Paid apps are exactly what you might have thought they were: apps that users must buy in order to download and use. Keep in mind that if you’re going to charge for your app, you must ensure that your app is better than any other free app that’s similar to yours. This is why we research our target users and competitors – to find our competitive edge! There are millions of apps available for download, so you must convey that your app is worth the purchase and prove it once users have downloaded it (this will increase app downloads, engagement, and drive positive app store reviews).

C. Freemium

This popular monetization model offers users a free app download along with some limited free features. To get access to additional features and content, users are required to make an in-app purchase/upgrade. This model is often used for gaming and media apps that hook users with great free features and content and then persuades them to make an upgrade to access deeper or exclusive content and features through a purchase. Apple notes, “While freemium apps are very popular, this model isn’t appropriate for every app. Successful freemium apps operate as services that are continuously supported, often requiring sustained content development to retain users.” So, if you’re planning on going this route, understand that your team will need to have the capacity to frequently produce and publish new content in order to persuade users to buy an upgrade and keep them coming back for more.

D. In-App Purchases

This is a great way to add a new revenue stream to your business. Specifically, if you already sell products and services on your website or in a physical location, creating an app that makes it even more convenient for your customers to shop with you might be a viable option to consider.

Other popular app monetization methods include app sponsorships, subscriptions, along with strategic partnerships and affiliations (we’ll cover these in a future article).

4. Define What Success Looks Like

Once you’ve outlined your objectives and monetization plan, you should define how you’ll track and measure your app’s success. One of the many wonderful aspects of owning an app is that you have the opportunity to gather meaningful user insights and analytics. To attain such data, ensure that your app developer has a plan to track user behaviour. Some key performance indicators you may find useful (depending on your goals) include app engagement (such as time spent in-app), average daily active users (DAU) and average monthly active users (MAU), purchases, installs, subscriptions, conversion rate, and more. You should also monitor user reviews in App Stores – doing so can help you stay in-tune with your user base and discover how to improve your app over time.

5. Consider Future Releases

So, you’ve done your research and defined your goals and monetization plan, now it’s time to consider what the future of your app looks like. Releasing version 1.0 of your app is nothing short of exciting, but even more compelling is the future plans you have. Like most things in business, apps need to change over time to evolve and improve with shifting consumer (or employee) trends, technology and competitors. To build an app that keeps users engaged, you should create an app roadmap that encompasses your future releases. Business Insider notes that more frequent updates are typically associated with higher app user ratings. This can be attributed to several factors, including app improvements such as added features and bug fixes. Further, since users receive push notifications about each app update, apps that are updated more often will benefit from increased top-of-mind awareness.

6. Put User Experience First

As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, 6 Reasons Your Enterprise Mobile App Needs Quality Assurance Testing, if you want consumers or employees to actually use your app, it’s key to make user experience a top priority. Your brand image – both in the eyes of your employees and consumers—is at stake every time you build a new app or release an update, so be sure that you’ve hired the right mobile app development partner. This partner or agency should be experienced at building best-in-breed apps across platforms and devices that provide a seamless user experience (UX) and interface (UI). You can learn more about choosing the right mobile app development partner in this Atimi blog post.

Now that you have a feel for what your app mobile strategy might look like, get in touch with us – we’d be happy to help you solidify your mobile strategy and build an app that your users will love.

Feel free to give us a call. We’re always happy to chat.




Mobile Testing

By Ashley Whitehead, Director of QA, Atimi Software Inc.

There are a number of issues that are regularly cited as the main problems with testing mobile apps: fragmentation of devices/manufacturers, OS versions, networks (changing connection types and speeds), usability, testing tools, automation and security. Whilst some are complex and require skilled and experienced testers, some of these can be overcome with a bit of knowledge of mobile apps and a good plan. I want to talk about one specifically and offer the benefit of our experience.

The fragmentation of the device market, especially Android (although more recently the iOS family has grown as well!), is overwhelming. You can find infographics that will graphically display the overabundance of devices. How can you test all these devices, and if not, how do you choose a reasonable set of devices to test?

For the purposes of this article I will focus on Android devices, and I am not considering OS version. The principles are the same whatever the platform is.



1. Factors


There are a number of key factors that we will need to consider:
* Screen size and screen resolution
* Device manufacturer
* Carrier
* Processor chipset
* Memory
* User demographics
* App design


Firstly, lets get rid of the least important ones starting with device manufacturer and carrier as these have very little impact on the performance of the app; we find very few issues that are specific to either of these factors. And you can cover a number of different manufacturers when making your device selections anyway.


Processor chipset and memory will affect the performance and that is why you need to consider app design. If your app is primarily downloading content from a web service and displaying it in a simple UI, the biggest influences on performance are network bandwidth and web service performance. The device performance will not have a significant impact. If your app is a UI heavy game, then you will need to test on high-end and low-end devices.

The profile of the expected users of your app will also have an influence: are you expecting affluent, low-cost, or a wide range of users. And then you may not have that information to be able to make a choice based on this factor.

Screen size and resolution are the biggest factors for most consumer apps. This also includes aspect ratio and portrait/landscape rotation. Designing your UI to work across the range of possibilities effectively whilst maximizing the appeal of your design is a challenge. The size and position of buttons and other user input controls, dynamically resizing UI controls and text, and scrolling and zooming controls are just some of the issues that you need to test for.






2. Selection Method


One of the most useful pieces of information you can have for selecting your set of devices is usage data. The volume of sales for each device is interesting but far more useful is, what devices are being used with apps that are similar to yours. If you have a mobile-friendly website that is being used by a similar group of users to those you expect to use your app, you can look at the profile of devices from that. If not, there are a few places that publish usage data by device type. You can look at those and decide whether they are close enough to your app. This will give you a long list, with each device type probably only accounting for a few percent of the traffic.
Next you need to find the screen size and resolution for each one – this may take a while first time round. Then if you are repeating the exercise every quarter, the number of new devices that will appear in your list will be relatively small. Once you have the screen size and resolutions, you will see that the devices will start to fall into groups. You can then select a single device from each group to represent that group.


How do you select which device represents each group? You then consider the following factors:

User profile – If you have a specific target group of users, does this affect your selection based on the price of devices? (Make sure your original list of devices was relevant to the geographical area you are considering.)

App performance – Is there an aspect of the app that will be affected by the processor, graphics chip, or memory? If so, select from high and lower performing devices.





Manufacturer – Select from a range of manufacturers.



And finally, pick devices you want to test. If there is a device that has just been released so it won’t appear on historical usage stats and despite that it is interesting to you, pick it. I’ll talk in the test planning section below about how you can test additional devices without significant extra effort.



3. Test Planning


Let us create an imaginary test suite that is 40% functional tests, 10% performance tests, and 50% UI tests. You have selected six devices to test. One approach you can take to avoid running every test on every device is to spread the functional tests across all six devices, running each test only once per cycle of testing. In subsequent test cycles, you can swap the devices used for a test to gain more coverage.
The UI tests can then be split into two sets: those that are unlikely to be affected by screen size/resolution and those that will. Again, you can spread the first set of tests across all six devices. You are then left with only the UI tests affected by screen size/resolution that you need to run on all devices. If you have performance issues for the app, then you would run the performance tests on the highest and lowest performing devices.
With this risk based approach, you can reduce the amount of testing from all tests on all devices by 60%.



4. Conclusion


Device fragmentation can be daunting when you first consider it. However, with careful consideration of the parameters of your app and your target audience, and systematic analysis of the available devices, you can achieve wide coverage without an excessive increase in testing effort. Or you can engage Atimi’s QA team and we will work with you to create and execute the optimum test suite.


Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior user experience and stands the test of time.




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