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5 must-ask questions before designing a mobile app

must ask questions“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

When it comes it project management, wiser words have never have been spoken (IMHO). The timeless quote from Benjamin Franklin highlights the importance of research and planning before kicking off a new activity. But how often do we dedicate enough time to strategic planning? We’ve all been guilty of jumping on the tactic bandwagon at some point or another – adopting new tools for the sake of innovation, without tying them back to our strategy and goals.

For some brands, a mobile app is the shiny new tool they want in their toolkit, however diving into a mobile project without proper planning is bound to end poorly. To avoid failure, you need to gather the right information from the get-go, and to do that, you need to ask the right questions. Whether you’re talking to your colleagues, stakeholders or client, here are the key questions that need to be defined before embarking on any mobile project.

1. What is your goal?

It’s a simple question, but the answer may be different depending on who you talk to. Is the app to improve your branding, to acquire new customers, to grow mobile sales or foster customer loyalty? Understanding which goal(s) are important can help design an app that will optimize for specific KPIs, be in downloads, sessions, sales or specific events. The most successful apps on the market today don’t do it all – but serve up a streamlined experience to deliver on 1 or 2 main goals. On that note….

2. What is the user journey and experience?

Often we see apps we like from competitors or other brand leaders and think “That’s how our app should be”. Competitive analysis is fundamental to research and planning, but learnings should be used to create a unique experience for you brand, not a “me too” marketing approach. Consider your mobile user and decide where along their journey an app fits into play. How can your app make it easier for them to perform a task they already do? How can an app provide a unique experience to delight? Once you have a good idea of the objectives, you can start mapping out the app architecture, ie the pages and the type of content that will bring the app to life

3. Where will content come from?

Benjamin Franklin’s words may never of held truer than in this instance. Knowing where your content will come from before you get started will save you a lot of headaches. Whether you’re pulling copy from an RSS feed, syncing with your website or social media, or custom creating, audit your content before you get started so you have a realistic idea about how much time (and resources) you’ll need to dedicate towards maintaining your app. After all, you want to keep content fresh, offers timely and promotions current, otherwise you’ll risk app abandonment.

4. What about the look & feel?

Branded apps should create continuity – you want users to know they are using your app right? Familiarize yourself with the brand guidelines, mimic existing digital properties and create an app environment that is undoubtedly your brand. From header images, to menus, icon and backgrounds, subtle design changes can make all the difference in elevating the appearance of your app. Branding should also extend to the app icon, which will be used to market your app on the various app stores.

5. Which features and functions do you want to include in your app?

Besides content, you may need your app to perform specific functions, like lead generation, search, or social media connectivity. If this is the case, you’ll want to decide before you start creating if you’ll require click-to call/email functions, native maps, forms or other widgets. Depending on your goals, you may also want to consider limiting access to your app to specific audiences (i.e members or customers only) or you may request that users log-in with social media account (like Facebook), so that you’re able to provide a more personalized experience.

Putting all the cards on the table is the first step to developing a plan, and once you’ve defined these questions, you’re one step closer to building a successful app.

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