Tuesday, May 31, 2011

10 ways to botch a mobile app

With the phenomenal growth of smart mobile devices, mobile apps, and their respective app stores over the last several years, just about everyone has an idea for a mobile app. And with each idea comes the belief that it may in fact be the next big thing — a million dollar app that can save its creator from the daily 9-5 grind. It's true that a fortuitous few have indeed realized their million dollar idea, but for many others their ideas remain dreams alone.

Working in the mobile app industry through these early days of the latest technological gold rush, I've seen the same app mistakes made time and time again. Failure, like success, follows a particular pattern. And so, I set out to distill the top 10 reasons why apps often falter or fail, with the hope that this list brings more reason and less emotion into the process of building mobile applications.

Mistake 1. Begin coding immediately

Many fail in the mobile space because they start developing their app as soon as they have an idea. In the extreme case, those with programming skills will actually start coding the app immediately. The first steps, however, should be focused on business and strategy aspects; pixels and design or coding and development come later in the process.

Mistake 2. Ignore competitors and alternatives

One of those business and strategy aspects that many pursuing apps ignore is to identify and use competitor apps. Understanding what competitors do well and where they've come up short will provide guidance on what features to develop and how to differentiate an app. Similarly, learning from top apps in app stores or even real-world alternatives, can reveal opportunities for innovation.

Mistake 3. Be purposeless

Wanting a million dollars shouldn't be the sole motivation for building an app. At the same time, app stores are likely one of the best places to pursue a new venture right now. Ultimately though, it is still a new venture and any new venture comes with a certain amount of risk. Outlining clear short- and long-term goals, that are aspirational yet attainable, will provide a much better foundation for success.



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