Updated: May 31

The mobile application development business is growing at a stupendous rate. Everyday thousands of apps are being added to app stores. According to Statista, approximately 2 million apps are present on Apple’s app store, while Google PlayStore has about 2.5 million apps for Android users. A report published by App Annie revealed that the average smartphone owner uses about 30 apps each month and 9 apps per day with most users spending over 2 hours each day on their apps. Thus, we can accept with surety the fact that apps have become an important part of our daily lives and their importance will continue to grow – the reason why more and more businesses are jumping onto this bandwagon.

But statistics also present a bleak picture. A survey by Canalys reported that nearly two-thirds of apps fail to reach 1000 downloads in their first year whereas, 24% of users delete apps after the first visit. In the study carried out by Gartner, mobile apps success rate was just 0.01%, which means only 1 out of 10,000 apps becomes successful.

Before you start on the process of building an app, it is essential to understand the reasons behind a failed mobile application, instead of focusing on the one successful app amongst the 10,000 failed apps.

Poor Audience and Market Research

Inadequate market research is the most common mistake that app developers are apt to make.

Before venturing into development, it is essential for you to carry out an in-depth and proper analysis of the app market and your target audience. If you decide to build an app without carrying out the necessary research, you run the risk of developing a product that has no place in the market, no matter how beautifully it is built. In other words, app users will not buy your product if they don’t want or need it. Demographics, behavior patterns, lifestyles, motivations and needs are some of the aspects that should be considered when understanding your end-users.

In a highly competitive environment, in-depth market research can make a big difference between success and failure. Knowing your market well will give you foresight into the near future and give you a clear picture of emerging trends. This will help you tremendously in deciding your next product, improving your current product, understanding your target audience’s wants and expectations, and catching on to market needs before your competitors do.

Also, competitive research will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of competitors and will help define your own competitive edge.

Lack of Originality

Copy cats are usually not successful. Creativity is one of the principle qualities of a successful app developer. There are thousands of apps being churned out by app building industries, but in order to stand out amongst them, you have to think outside the box.

The originality of a web app can be obtained in two ways:

  • Creation of an app that does something entirely unique

  • Enhancing and improving upon a conventional idea by some originality e.g. you can develop a unique interface or algorithm for an app

Google did both of the above to unsettle the existing search engine market and made a niche for itself.

Prototyping and speedy iteration comes handy in exploring new ideas and arriving at a product that offers originality and maximum user value.

Not Selecting the Right Platform

Majority of mobile app users are either iOS or Android users. Therefore, it is imperative that your mobile app is pertinent to the platform it is on.

By studying statistical data on app user’s choice of smartphones you gain a clear picture of their lifestyles and preferences. For example, iOS users are usually more educated than Android users and come under the high income bracket. This information can influence your decision on the monetizing strategy of your product. If your monetizing strategy depends on in-app purchases, an iOS platform may be more profitable, whereas, if you plan to monetize through advertisement, Android platform may be your best choice. Similarly, if you go for cross-platform, application technology like Xamarin Forms can be useful to cut costs.

Remember that for the development of any application a ‘user-centric’ approach is essential. Your major aim is to provide mobile app users with a solution to a specific problem they are facing or to anticipate their future needs. When an application doesn’t perform well across various devices like mobile phones, tablets, ipods, networks and operating systems, it becomes a headache for your users. For example, users can be very upset if an app works on their iphone but not on their ipad.

With the success story of one app out of 10,000 apps reaching the app stores, your extra effort in the development of an app will go a long way.

Poor User Experience (UX)

Offering a great user experience is an important component of an app’s success that many developers neglect. For instance, if the features of your app are not easily discoverable, a user will, in frustration, most likely delete your app.

Examples of poor user experience of an app are:

  • Taking a long time to load

  • Lengthy registration process

  • Confusing visuals

  • Features that are not easily accessible

  • Slow scrolling or lagging issues

  • Frequent interruptions in user’s workflow

  • Cluttered interface

Successful mobile applications have one thing in common – they are user friendly and benefit them. If a user uses an app repeatedly, it is understandable that that app has to perform at its peak, in order to provide user satisfaction.

Improper Testing

If an app is not tested properly, it is bound to be bug infested. This will lead to frequent crashing. Error rates in apps range from 3-12%. A single crash is more than enough for the user to take action and uninstall the app.

It is highly recommended that for the success of your app you make the extra effort to test it thoroughly before launching it or introducing new features.

Ignoring User Feedback

Ignoring your user’s feedback is the biggest mistake an app developer can make. Feedback plays an important part, not only in improving the current app but also, in building a roadmap for the future product. Your customers’ feedback can help you understand which features to include in the app, what needs to be removed or retained, what needs to be fixed or improved upon and which features should take priority in the future app development.

Show your customers that you care, that you hold respect for their suggestions, opinions and concerns and you will experience organic growth for your product over time.

Measuring Mobile App Success

Setting success criteria and measuring the performance of your app will provide you long term guidance for your future development strategies. Following are the few metrics that you should keep a close eye on to gauge the success of your app:

Performance Metrics

  • Social media followers growth

  • Audience engagement

  • Email subscriber growth

  • Landing page traffic

  • Production mentions

  • App crashes

Business Metrics

  • Transaction revenue

  • Abandonment rate

  • Acquisition cost

  • App star rating and reviews

  • Lifetime value

User Engagement Metrics

  • Monthly active users and daily active users

  • Devices

  • Retention rate

  • Session length and session intervals

To create a successful five star app you need to measure and analyze application performance over a time period. Understand key metrics and make adjustments to the app and your marketing plans to reach your goals.

Qualcomm forecasts that 200 million 5G smartphones will be sold in 2020 which means the app market will continue to grow alongside and successful apps will generate substantial revenues. Successful marketing, on-going research and production ingenuity are a few essential ingredients that you require to climb the ladder of success.

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