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9 things to think about during the application design process

If you are not a software developer, building your brand-new, custom web application or upgrading your current one will require you to discuss your project with the project manager or your development team.

IT project design is a complex process that requires you to spend a lot of time making sure that the outcome will be successful. You must conduct market research. Nobody wants to spend their money just to find out that there are tons of similar applications that do the same thing, but better! You will need to identify the problem your application should target, know how it will solve the issue and what benefit it will bring for your potential customers. Furthermore, there are lots of technical aspects to consider, such as choosing the right technology stack, UX/UI design, project organization and app deployment that should be covered by your IT company of choice, like us! 🙂

Here are the most important (in our opinion) application design details to consider if you would like to develop your custom application:

1. Market research

You will never know if your customers really need your app until you develop it.

However, your first step should be to conduct thorough market research. Try to find your potential competitors, determine their strategy and the methods they used to grow in the last couple of years. You can easily find customer reviews that will point out what the users like about their application and what they would rather change. Prepare a list of your app’s strengths and weaknesses, trying to remain as impartial as possible. It is also worth spending a while thinking about your app’s selling point and considering how it can address all the issues reported by your competitors’ clients. This way, you will avoid the biggest mistakes, define your strategy, identify your target audience, and make sure that your project will stand out from the crowd.

2. Talk to your customers

Many startups start developing their products before reaching out to the people outside of their company and simply talking to them. Customer reviews are a key insight you should focus on. After all, they will be using your application. Try to ask different people what they think about your idea. Understand what it is they are looking for and how you can address it. A CEO of a company will think differently than a project manager, while they can both be your potential customers. Think about answering questions like: “how would you benefit from my application?” “What is the added value compared to my competitors?”  “Why would you want to use it?”

3. Monetization options

Wouldn’t it be great if the investment in your custom-made application returned a profit? In order for this to happen, you will need to carefully design monetization options. They will vary in every case. For example, if you are looking to develop a service-based application, monthly payments might not be the best option. Try to see how your competitors monetize their business. There are many monetization models like freemium, premium, in-app purchases, subscriptions or even ads and sponsorships. You can always use several of them in your project.

Learn how to prepare for the development of your applications!

4. Project specification

At this point I am sure you know what your goals are; you have done the legwork by researching the market, talking to your customers and deciding how you will earn revenue with your app. Now it’s the time to prepare for presenting your idea to the developers.

Your project specification should at least describe the objectives of the project, mockups of your application, its features, user stories, milestones and your budget. This way, your development team can easily dive into your project, prepare an accurate quote for you and estimate how much time will be required to develop your product. It will also be easier to choose the right technology stack for a specific case. We love well-written project specifications from our clients!

5. UX/UI Design

Oftentimes, User Experience and Interface are what make your customers return to your product. Think of Apple – their UX/UI is almost always mentioned in discussions about product design, for a good reason. Users love when products “just work” and are easy to use. On the other hand, it is easy to ruin a great app idea with a poorly designed application that your users will hate. Try to remove all unnecessary features that might overwhelm your customers. The fewer the distractions, the more the user will be focused on the content. There are lots of simple improvements you can include in your UX/UI – and good designers should tell you about them immediately.

6. Right technology stack

First, check what kind of app you want to develop – if it will be a mobile app, search for a mobile tech stack like React Native or Swift/Kotlin/Flutter.

If you want to create a web application, check some frontend technologies like React, Vue or Angular and find the right backend programming language like Java, C#, Python or JavaScript (Node.js). Each of these technologies is different and has its own pros and cons.

Let’s imagine that you have an idea for a start-up web application and you want to check if the MVP will cover your business needs. In such a case, Node.js with React.js or Vue.js will be one of the best possible solutions. With this technology stack, you will be able to quickly develop an MVP on a low budget. On the other hand, if you are developing e.g. a huge e-commerce platform, Node.js can be a bad idea as it has heavy computation tasks which can be a problem on a big scale. Nevertheless, you should always choose the right technology stack based on what the project requires. If you already have a team of developers, you need to check what stack they are currently using.

7. Security

This is a commonly overlooked point of many specifications we see. If your application collects any data, especially sensitive user data, you need to make sure that it cannot be accessed by any third-party. Security is of the utmost importance in the context of mobile apps. Many people often keep lots of information on their phone, such as family photos, contact lists, e-mails, or even bank account details and passwords. If your security measures are poorly designed and implemented, you can be sure that they will backfire in the nearest future.

8. Scalability

Application scalability is defined as the possibility of growth over time. If you aim to release your application to a wider audience, it should be ready to handle a rising number of requests, increase processing power or implement new features. Such “expansion” needs to be planned at the beginning of the development process to prevent it from becoming a hassle later on. Making sure that your application can be developed further is often the duty of your development team. You should discuss scaling your application with them at the beginning of your cooperation.

9. Marketing strategy

If you planned to start the marketing campaign of your application after its launch, then it’s too late.

If you trust your development team with your app, you should move your focus from supervising the project to creating a marketing strategy as soon as possible. There’s a lot of work to do, and you should start as soon as possible. Branding in today’s world is extremely important – how will your logo, color, name and content stand out from millions of other apps? What marketing channels will you be using? Does your target audience spend most of their time on social media or watching videos? Do they prefer using mobile phones over computers? It would be perfect if you could manage to start your marketing campaign at least several months before you launch your app. This is the most efficient way to assure your app will be used already on deployment day.

Author

Michał Kłak

Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of iMakeable.