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7 steps to creating an app for your SME

According to the State of Mobile 2021 report by App Annie, $210 Million was spent on mobile apps and 680 Million apps were downloaded in South Africa in 2020 alone. Investing in an app for your business may be a great way to increase growth. Further in the report, it states that more people are moving their physical needs to mobile devices. So, why and how do you create an app for your SME?

Why should you create an app for your SME?

There are many benefits for creating an app for your SME but the three most prominent reasons would be to build brand recognition, increase your business’ visibility, and market more directly to your client.

Here are the eight steps to creating an app

STEP 1: Define the business purpose of the app

What business goal do you want to achieve with your app? Do you want to make it easier for people to purchase products from your business? Do you want to create a loyalty plan for your customers? You must clearly define your goal for your app because as you move into developing your app you may come across many other ideas which may enhance your app, but you need to stick to the clearly defined goals at the beginning of your app development stage before you add the bells and whistles.

STEP 2: Do market research

Now that you know what app you want to create, is there a market for it? Depending on the niche you work in there may already be similar apps available. When you research the competitor’s app, there are seven areas to look at:

  • App name: Not only will you be able to identify which app you are researching but when you look across the various apps’ names you may see some keywords which will be beneficial to use when you create your app’s name.
  • Features:  Look at the variety of features that are available on the app.
  • Monetization scheme: Do they offer a once-off price for the app, or do they offer the app for free but then have in-app purchases? They may even offer the basic app for free but if you want the bells and whistles you will need to upgrade the app. Another monetisation scheme will be to offer a subscription fee to the app.
  • App publisher: Who has created the app? Is it a single person or a large company? If the publisher is a large company, it may be harder to compete against them than a lone developer.
  • Last updated: When was the app last updated? If it hasn’t been updated in a long time, then there may be a market share you can come in on.
  • Rating and reviews: This is a pot of gold for your research. Here you will find out what people like about the app, and you will also see what problems they may have with the app. With this knowledge, you can see what you should do with your app. You can also see if the developer keeps in contact with the users or not. By acknowledging feedback, you show your users you are interested in what they have to say to improve the app.
  • Downloads: You will not be able to see these in the App Store and will have to use another website, like Sensetower, to get an estimate of how many times the app has been downloaded.

With this information, you can check if there is a market for your app and what features are essential for your consumer in the market and what they don’t like. If there aren’t many apps in your niche, you can speak to your consumer directly through a survey or face-to-face to see if there is an interest in the type of app you want to create.

STEP 3: Create a sketch of your app

This doesn’t need to be a beautiful artwork just a rough sketch of how your app will work. What will happen when your user clicks on certain buttons on the home screen? What will the other screens look like and what data needs to display on those screens? By creating a detailed sketch of how your app works you will have a good plan to show your developer. You should also get your colleagues and friends to look at the sketch to see if they would add something or take something away from your app design. When creating the sketch, it is also important to identify the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This will be the first thing you will develop and get to market to test if they like your app idea and what they think should be added or removed. By developing an MVP, you will ensure you don’t pour all your resources into a final product which the consumers don’t want.

STEP 4: Choose how to develop your app

There are a variety of ways you can develop your app. They are:

  • Native app development: This is hiring an app developer to create your app from scratch. This is the most expensive way to create an app, but you will have the most flexibility within your app if you choose this route. Another item to consider is that most developers can either build for Android platforms or MacOS platforms. If you want your app to feature on both platforms, you may need to hire two different developers to create the app for each platform.
  • Cookie cutter app development: This is an online app creator which has certain apps prebuilt and you add the trimmings to the app to suit your brand. This is the easiest way to create an app as you don’t need many technical skills, but you will also not have much flexibility with this type of app development.
  • Rapid App Development (RAD) app builder: This method offers a bit more flexibility than the cookie cutter app development, but you will need to have some technical skills to build the app.

If you choose to build an app by yourself, you can look at Buildfire or Appypie to help you. It is important to remember though you may save a bit of money using a DIY app builder, you may lose money by the amount of time you spend building the app and you may not pick up on small nuances involved in the app-building process that a seasoned app developer will be aware of.

STEP 5: Test your app

Once your app is developed you need to test it on all the platforms you want it used on. Ask your colleagues, family members and friends to test it. You can also ask some of your clients to beta test the app and give you feedback on how you can improve it.

STEP 6: Launch the app

When you are happy the app works on all the platforms well, you can launch it on to the Google and Apple stores. There may be a delay for the app to be accepted by the various stores.

STEP 7: Market your app

When your app is live, it is time to market it so that people are aware of the app and use it. You need to create a marketing strategy for your app.

Good luck. Creating an app is a big investment of time and money, but if done properly you could reap a lot of dividends in years to come.

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