By Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director, Studio Graphene
If you’re a business owner, chances are you have considered building an app. With the value of the app market growing and the number of smartphone users rising, it makes sense to consider how apps can be used to your advantage. It has been projected that the amount of revenue generated by mobile apps could total $935 billion by 2023.
Whereas in the past apps were something of a novelty, consumers and businesses have now come to rely on apps to perform an expanding range of tasks. What’s more, by leveraging the software and existing operating systems of smartphones and tablets, businesses do not need to worry about inventing new technology. The tools already exist – all that’s left is an idea.
Here at Studio Graphene, we have been building and launching apps for a host of different organisations since 2014, ranging from startups and SMEs through to large corporates. Having recently completed our 100th app project, we have seen first-hand what businesses commonly get wrong when planning an app.
So if you’re planning on building an app for your business, it’s important not to overlook these vital steps.
Don’t think of an app as a business
During the initial planning stages of app development, businesses often take one of two approaches. The first is to look at the app as an isolated project and ensure that it is built to perform a clear function. There is nothing wrong with this approach, though I would say that businesses are limiting themselves by thinking in this way. The second, and in my opinion much more effective, approach is determining how the app fits into the broader business strategy and goal. This means taking a step back and positioning the app as something that will help a business achieve a particular objective.
To offer a case study, we recently had the privilege of working with Zoë, the founder of Frolo. Her aim was to create a solution to a problem many single parents encounter – feelings of isolation and loneliness. She wanted to create a product that could bring single parents together. With this being the business goal, Studio Graphene worked with Zoë to create an app that acts as an online community for single parents. In order to achieve this, we used a dating app model but modified it so the focus was on friendship building and networking instead.
In this instance, there is a clear theme guiding the development and functionality of the app. Frolo serves a simple purpose, and by using the tech that already exists in smartphones, it effectively offers an online community for single parents to engage with one another. This brings me to my second point.
Don’t let tech define your idea
People are excited by tech, but sometimes the ambition to create an “all-singing, all-dancing” app can in fact lead to more problems than solutions. Our technological capabilities are constantly evolving, which means that apps are increasing the amount of functions they are able to perform. The challenge is not letting technology distort the original purpose of the app.
For instance, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a trending topic of interest, and businesses are eager to see how they can use AI to their advantage via an app. For some organisations like large corporates, this makes sense. However, there is also the risk of letting AI’s capabilities redefine the initial premise of the app. This can mean the creation of an app that might utilise the most sophisticated technology available, but have limited use or relevance.
That’s why simplicity is key.
Keep the function and design simple
In my opinion, the most successful apps are the ones that perform a simple function, effectively. They have been designed and built to perform one function, and this always remains the main consideration. You are better off keeping things clear and simple, making sure you are not overwhelming the user with too much information that does not add any real value to the user experience. As a developer, we know that every added button, image and icon makes the process of building and updating an app that little more complex.
The ultimate goal is to build an app that is user-friendly and visually appealing. This may seem like an obvious point to make, but you’d be surprised how many people overlook the visual aspect of an app. The design, look, feel and usability should all resonate with the target user base, as this will determine whether someone will be a repeat user of the app.
There is no business that should overlook the value an app could deliver. From startups to large corporates, no organisation should risk overlooking how a simple and intuitive app could enhance its product or engage with their desired customer base. The key is taking the right approach from the initial planning, adhering to clearly designated goals and aiming above all else to deliver a simple app.
Ritam Gandhi, is the Founder and Director of Studio Graphene – a London-based company that specialises in the development of blank canvas tech products including apps, websites, AR, IoT and more.
The company has completed over 100 projects since first being started in 2014, working with both new entrepreneurs and product development teams within larger companies.