NativeX is pleased to present this guest post “6 Essential Resources for Any App Maker” from AppInstitute, one of the world’s leading DIY App Builders.
Congratulations! You have a brand new mobile app! You have brought your baby into the world, and it’s full of potential. (Though the main difference between a real child and your technical creation is that you won’t have to shell out for years of therapy so your app can finally realize its own worth. That’s what in-app purchases are for.)
The mere creation of your app puts you on the fastest growing road of the information superhighway: Mobile. But you can’t just unleash the thing on the world and expect everything to change—not overnight, not even in a year—if you don’t do anything to nurture it.
Technology is a wondrous thing. Technology has the power to solve many problems—but it can also create a bunch of new ones. It’s not enough to just be an app maker. You’ll need to be an app marketer and tinkerer, too. You’ve got to promote the app, optimise it for the app store to ensure people can find it, analyse its performance, test revisions to improve performance, and keep it relevant so that users will stick around and keep using it.
Don’t worry, though. We’re not here to tear down your aspirations: we’re here to help. The truth is, there are a lot of things to think about in addition to design, development, and bug testing. And there are plenty of ways to help you make quick work of these more peripheral, but no less important, tasks.
Below, you will find a list of various app tools that can assist you. For each one, we’ve added insights and recommendations to help you quickly get up to speed.
Wireframing and Prototyping
All great apps start with a great idea. When apps fail, its often because no one tested or fully planned those ideas out with a comprehensive strategy before sinking money into the development process.
There’s a lot to plan out across navigation, workflow, design, and balance. One of the more fully featured wireframing solutions out there, MockFlow is a suite of collaboration tools that allows your staff to hash out all these ideas ahead of time. Generate your app flow, manage images and design, track revisions— it’s got everything you need to build out the idea into a final draft before you start making the app itself. Spending a little bit of time in planning and mockup can save you an immense about of time (and painful re-coding) down the road.
Beta testing is a critical part of an app’s lifecycle. Before you can release an app to the world, you need to put it in the hands of people who will be (or already are) your real-world users.
By this point, you should have worked out most of the bugs, but every user brings a little something unique to the table. All their devices are a little different—either by what they already have installed, or the settings they use, or how savvy they are with apps in the first place. A coding-prodigy teenager is going to have a vastly different experience than a middle-aged user with no knowledge of hardware and software. Their devices can be different hardware, or be running different versions of the operating system. There are tons of variables that can’t all be replicated in a the closed system of your developers and internal tests.
Good beta testing won’t just show you crash reports and performance analytics, though. They will also test security as well as the entire user experience. If the design isn’t intuitive, beta testing will bring that information to light. Some tools, like UXCam and 99tests, feature video recordings of the user experience (screen activity, not the users themselves) to show you where people are tapping/clicking, what they’re missing, and where they get hung up. This helps you make sure that not only is your code running at peak, but your users are, too.
Image Processing and Management
Mobile apps have the same three basic requirements as the date you’re looking for on Tinder: look attractive, move fast, and be easy. And, like Tinder, the secret is in the pictures you use.
For an app, the file size of the images you use should be small so they download quickly. You might also need multiple versions of the same image, for thumbnails/previews, featured images, background images, etc. When all is said and done, you’ll end up with a ton of files that can easily be confused with one another, making their specific use a mystery.
Check out apps such as Aviary to edit and enhance your images for any context, while services like FilePreviews.io and Blitline to manage and process them for use in your app.
App Store Optimisation (ASO) Tools
Just like when you published your website and realized no one could find it, launching your app in an app store isn’t a guarantee that people will start downloading en masse. For the web, you’ve got to tweak your site with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategies to get it listed high enough in the search results for people to see.With an app, there are a number of things you can do to make sure it shows in app store search results. ASO (App Store Optimisation) requires a lot of little details—like keywords in the title and descriptions, screenshots, and ratings—to be tended to in order to maintain a visible listing.
It’s a lot to keep track of, and it helps if you’ve read some kind of handy guide on doing it right. It also helps if you know what you’re doing right, and what needs work. Analytics platforms like Sensor Tower, and appFigures do just that, presenting you with the kind of data and insights you’ll need to truly optimise your app, whether for the Apple or Google Play app store.
(NativeX has an extensive free white paper on ASO available here: http://www.nativex.com/whitepaper/aso1search/
Not getting the download count you hoped for? Perhaps you haven’t planted the right keywords in the description, or your app’s title is lame. Maybe you’ve got some bad reviews weighing you down. Or maybe people are finding you, but are just not interested in your app enough to download. It could be your screenshots aren’t telling the right story (did you use a tool that creates ASO friendly enhanced screenshots?). The best way to determine what will work is sometimes getting rid of the things you know don’t.
Marketing & Retention
Beyond ASO, there’s a lot of boots-on-the-ground type marketing that ought to be done to accompany the launch of an app. But promoting the app is an ongoing battle, and just as much energy should be focused on keeping the users you’ve got.
For general promotion, PlaceIt creates images and videos that you can use in your marketing materials. Create videos showing the app in action, add screenshots into stock photos, and place them in the devices that you want to show them in. All of this media can be put onto your website or other marketing materials. If you don’t have a full website, you can still use the images on a basic landing page. And if you don’t have a landing page, check out Unbounce, which provides templates for quickly and easily building a single page you can use to convert interested users into active users. Once they’re active, use Batch to keep them hooked. The service integrates with apps to provide push notifications, loyalty rewards, native ads, and user analytics all converge to help you make marketing campaigns that keep people keep coming back for more.
Even though you’ve done your best to make your app easy to use, there are still going to be people out there who don’t quite get how to use it. Setting up in-app support can be a real chore, and is generally not what coders love to do.HelpStack is an open source solution that addresses this need. It’s one of the more important tools for app makers, in that it aims to provide real time help for those who have lost their way. Embedding knowledge-base articles, providing an interface for help requests, and in-app messaging between support and user are just a few of the ways HelpStack gets the job done.
Or, sometimes that level of help isn’t necessary, but you still want to provide users with an easy way to report bugs and give feedback.InstaBug makes this happen, giving developers instant awareness of problems so they can be patched before more users have a bad experience.
With all these tools available to help you succeed, regardless if you have the knowledge required in any of these areas, the only thing keeping you from creating a successful app is the creation of the app itself. Lucky for you, there’s a service that does that, too. So what are you waiting for?
Ian Naylor is the founder and CEO of AppInstitute, one of the world’s leading DIY App Builders (over 70,000 apps built).
Naylor has founded, grown and sold 4 successful internet and technology companies during the past 18 years around the world. He gives seminars as an expert authority on startup mobile app trends, development, and online marketing and has spoken at numerous industry events including The Great British Business Show, Venturefest, the National Achievers Congress and numerous industry exhibitions around the UK.
AppInstitute regularly provides leading publications with app analytics, business data, case studies, white papers and statistics for established publishers across the world. They were named in the top 50 creative companies in England by Creative England.
LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iannaylor1
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