Launching a new app can be a pretty daunting task.
A good friend of mine recently developed and launched an app because she had wished for years that it would exist. It’s an app that allows wrestlers, parents and coaches to track wrestling scores, matches and opponents with ease.
I learned some important lessons while watching her go through the app launching process that I’d like to share with you.
1. Make sure you’re passionate about the concept behind the app that you’re developing.
She needed this app to exist so that she could use it, and she thought other parents may want to use it too.
2. Launch your app at the right time.
The pre-season just started, and she put the app on the market at exactly the right moment. Before her app had even been out for 1 week, she already had tons of downloads. If she had launched it a few months before or a few months later, it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful at launch.
3. If you’re going to launch the app yourself, make sure you do your pre-marketing months in advance.
Before her app was even finished, she was posting teaser links in wrestling forums, and reaching out to wrestling organizations to let them know it was on the way.
4. Check branding options before you become too attached to an app name.
She didn’t name her app until she made sure that the domain name, Facebook url and Twitter handle were available. If they hadn’t been, she was willing to change the name of the app.
Don’t marry yourself to an app name until you’ve secured the appropriate branding.
5. Perform Usability testing with all of the appropriate personas.
She tested her app with kids, teens and with adults to ensure that it would be usable by her entire target audience. She focused closely on UX from the very beginning which helped with her rapid adoption rate at launch.
6. Once you launch, sincerely ask your users for feedback.
After she posted links to the app in various forums, she asked sincerely for feedback and feature requests from her target audience. Her son has only been wrestling for a few years and is in elementary level tournaments, so she didn’t have experience yet with high school level wrestling. She wanted to make absolutely sure that she was meeting the needs of her entire user base.
7. Iterate like crazy.
She launched the app with the features she felt were necessary for success, but had a plan for various iterations of those features in advance. After launch, several of the feature requests that her users presented were so fantastic that she integrated them in with the first couple of planned feature iterations immediately.
8. Don’t trip yourself up by trying to integrate every single feature that is requested, but don’t get so focused on your planned iterations that you don’t listen the feedback you’re receiving from your target audience.
This is quite possibly one of the trickiest parts of app development. The knee jerk reaction in the beginning stages is to include every single feature request people send your way. Over time your app will become huge and cumbersome and so feature heavy that the UX will suffer.
At the same time, you can’t get so obsessed with your pre-planned release strategy and timeline that you don’t take time to integrate the best feature requests while you work on iterations of existing features.
Strike a balance between these two areas and you’ll wind up with a phenomenal app that really meets your users needs.
9. Pre-plan your monetization strategy.
Before she had even finished her app, she reached out to some experienced industry folks through Twitter and other social media outlets to determine the best way to monetize her app.
The option she landed on makes perfect sense for her audience. Don’t think that you need to milk people dry from the beginning to make money. I don’t ever download an app that I have to pay for, unless I have an opportunity to try a lite version first, and I often find myself upgrading to the paid version if I love the app.
10. Add analytics from the get go.
You know what’s awesome? Being able to watch the use of your app increase on a daily basis, and having the opportunity to watch which features are being used the most. Custom events in Google Analytics are a great way to keep an eye on what’s going on with your app in real time. You can also put together some pretty killer stat sheets based on the data you receive on a monthly basis. Having analytics access also helps you locate problem areas from a UX perspective with ease.
My friend added custom events before her app went live, and is having a blast looking at her stats each night. Data = fun. 🙂
I hope you found these tips helpful. Now get out there a launch some killer apps!
In case you want to check out her app, you can download it for Android or iPhone by visiting http://www.suplexapp.com, http://www.facebook.com/suplexapp or http://twitter.com/suplexapp (See? Solid branding FTW.) 🙂