How to Create A Custom Mobile App that Stands Out
In today’s business world, it is essential to have a custom mobile app that stands out from the competition. There are more than 5 million applications available on global markets for their visitors to enjoy, and the amount is constantly increasing. The statistics also speaks for itself as more companies want to focus on personalized and unique experience. There are so many different details to consider during this complex process, and it may take time to figure out where to start. In this blog article, we walk you through the basics of designing a unique app that provides significant value and stands out from the crowd!
The definition of custom app development
It is the creation of unique and customized apps with custom features which also involves a high degree of adaptability to customer needs. It may involve developing an entirely new product from scratch or modifying an existing one. Smaller firms frequently prefer third-party integrations for some elements like chats or messengers to shorten expenses, while more prominent corporations require more specific functions and invest in custom solutions.
Many small applications have off-the-shelf features integrated from third parties. What exactly are they? Let’s say, a startup needs to add a messaging feature and does not want (or cannot afford) to develop it from scratch. If the owners are okay with limited functionality and just want to implement a chat option as quickly as possible, there are ready-made options for reasonable prices.
Speaking about off-the-shelf apps in general, they help companies keep up with various processes but do not require customization, offering pre-made templates, code, and designs. For instance, creating a custom CRM is unnecessary if you run a startup. They are less expensive but offer fewer features and lower customization level.
Once your business scales, custom-developed apps provide the functionality that simple off-the-shelf solutions can’t.
There are multiple benefits of the custom application development approach, including:
More control over the development process
When you opt for such an approach, you have more control over the entire process to make sure everything is tailored to initial requirements. It includes everything from setting the project’s initial scope to managing changes and revisions during the process.
Ability to scale the project as needed
If your project requirements change or grow over time, you easily make changes to the project scope without starting from scratch. It saves you a lot of time and money in the long run. You update and improve anything on an ongoing basis.
Such an approach also gives greater flexibility when it comes to selecting features and improving functionality. You are not limited to what is available off-the-shelf. Instead, you work with a dedicated team and get a solution that is tailored to your needs and differs from competitors.
You have complete control over the codebase and implement specific security measures. It helps to protect your product from potential threats and vulnerabilities. Plus, you can guarantee it smoothly integrates with existing systems and processes.
You know that the product meets your high criteria before it is released. It helps to prevent bugs and other issues from slipping through the cracks and affecting your users. Moreover, you collect feedback and quickly make changes to the product, adapting it to new or unseen target audience needs.
Faster turnaround times
Specialists do not need to spend time learning new technologies or integrations. Instead, they focus on developing the app according to your specific requirements.
Custom Application Types
When it comes to custom applications, there are a variety of types you select from. Understanding which is best for your business is essential to get the most out of your investments. Let’s take a look at each of them and their specifics.
Native Mobile Apps
They are developed specifically for a particular platform, such as iOS or Android. They are written in the native language of the platform, which makes them faster and more reliable. NMAs also have access to all of the platform’s features, such as the camera and GPS. Of course, they require effort and time to create and maintain, especially if you decide to go with both versions, but the result is worth investing your resources in. If you are going this way, you should find a company with good Android development and/or iOS app development expertise.
Hybrid Mobile Apps
Web Mobile Apps
They are essentially websites that are designed to be accessed from smartphones. They are typically developed using responsive design, which ensures they are accessed on any size screen. WMAs are convenient to use; however, they often lack the functionality of native and hybrid applications.
Progressive Web Apps
PWAs combine the greatest of both worlds: they have the convenience of a web app with the functionality of a native one. PWAs are fast, reliable, and engaging, even on low-powered devices.
Cross-Platform Mobile Apps
They are developed using a single codebase that can be compiled to run on multiple platforms, such as iOS and Android. However, cross-platform apps are less reliable than platform-specific ones.
Tips For Great Custom Mobile App Development
So, you have decided to go with a specific custom app type. What are the next steps? The most significant questions you need to answer before initiating such a serious project are related to:
- the project requirements (i.e. what exactly you want);
- the project budget (to understand if you can afford the idea you keep in mind);
- the development company choice (who is responsible for the entire process).
Define the requirements
When building an application, it’s crucial to consider your target audience’s needs and what differentiates your concept from the existing ones on the market. Some factors you should consider include:
- The purpose of the app: how it benefits people
- The target audience: who use it and why
- The design and interface: how to make it user-friendly and modern-looking
- The functionality: what features to add
- Marketing and promotion: how to promote it to get maximum downloads
Proper marketing research is the first step to answer these questions. One of the most significant stages here is the competitor analysis to ensure you are not creating something that already exists. Take notes on which concepts gain popularity and which do not; read feedback carefully and analyze the advantages and disadvantages people mention. Based on this information, you are able to create a concept to discuss later with the team.
Define the budget
The total cost depends on various factors, including the project’s complexity, the platform(s) being used, the number of features involved, etc. However, most professional agencies typically charge in the range of $15,000 – $200,000+ per project. In this article, we discuss all factors that influence the total app development cost and need to be considered when planning the budget.
Besides the project complexity, specialist rates are another factor affecting the total cost.
For example, North American agencies are known for their higher rates that go up to 150 USD/h, while LATAM and Eastern Europe rates range between 22-55 USD/h. Specialists in India or Indonesia ask for 25-35 dollars/h for their services. But what are additional factors to consider besides the rates?
Find a perfect development agency
Once you have a clear idea of what you need, start looking for an agency that provides mobile development services. There are several ways to do so, including online directories, word-of-mouth recommendations, and online reviews. When you’re doing your research, be sure to look for agencies that have experience in mobile design and development of products in your industry and that offer services within your budget.
After you’ve identified a few potential candidates, the next step is to request proposals from them. In your proposal request, include information about your project, expected budget, and timeline. It gives the agencies all details to provide you with a relevant proposal. Compare proposals side-by-side. Look at the price they are quoting, the services they’re offering, and the proposed timeline for completion to narrow down your options and then choose the best variant.
Before making your final decision, you should check references. Talk to other businesses that have cooperated with them and get feedback on the quality of their work to ensure you’re going forward with true professionals.
Once you’ve chosen an agency, it’s time to sign a contract outlining the scope of work, timeframes and budgets. Be sure to read the agreement carefully before signing it so you understand all of the terms and conditions.
Custom app development phases
The process generally consists of four main stages (also known as 4D approach): discovery, design, development, and deployment.
The first stage, discovery, is about understanding the client’s needs and requirements. It involves conducting market research, analyzing competitors, and defining the project scope and objectives.
The second stage is focused on creating a compelling and user-friendly interface. It includes designing wireframes, visual elements, and interactive prototypes to visualize the idea and plan the development process properly.
How to design an app that is easy to navigate? Simplicity is key. Here are a few tips:
1. Keep the number of steps to a minimum. Users should be able to accomplish their goals with as few clicks or taps as possible. Don’t include too many features. Instead, focus on the main functions and make them work well.
2. Select clear and concise labels. Anyone should be able to easily understand what each button or link does.
3. Add icons judiciously. Too many icons are confusing, so only add them when they genuinely improve the UX.
4. Don’t be afraid of whitespace. An empty page may seem like wasted space, but such a solution actually makes it easier to find all the elements and buttons quickly.
5. Test your ideas with focus groups! Don’t just rely on your own opinion.
Development and QA
The third stage includes coding the front-end and back-end, setting up databases, and integrating third-party services.
Do not forget about proper QA here! Quality Assurance is essential as it helps to ensure the end product is of high quality, meets customer expectations and requirements (both functional and non-functional), and is free of bugs.
The main activities carried out during QA are requirements gathering, test planning, test case development, test execution, and bug reporting.
Finally, the release happens. It involves submitting the application to stores, setting up server infrastructure, and tracking user engagement (MAU, DAU, Stickiness and other indicators). By the way, you can read about each stage in detail in our article!
What to consider in advance
You need to think thoroughly about how your product will get the attention it deserves. There are multiple ways to make it more competitive and famous.
Choose a suitable monetization model
Analyze the monetization models of your direct competitors and try thinking out of the box here. For instance, if they have implemented a subscription model, is it really a convenient way to pay? The monetization model greatly depends on the app type and the niche. Make sure it fits your specifics and offer a solution your competitors 1) do not have or 2) implemented successfully. Choose among:
People purchase digital goods or services from within the app. It is typically done in games, where they buy in-game items such as new levels, characters, or power-ups. In-app purchases can also be used to unlock features or content in other application types (like dating or news).
Subscribers pay a recurring fee to access the content or features. This variant is common for news and magazines, where readers must pay a monthly or yearly subscription to read the latest articles. Subscriptions can also be used to unlock premium content or features in other application types (like fitness or productivity).
Developers sell ad space within their application to advertisers. It is typically done through an ad network, connecting advertisers with apps willing to display their ads. Advertisers then pay the developer based on the number of times their ad is shown or the number of clicks it receives.
Here, the developer partners with a brand and agrees to promote it. It can be done through banner ads, interstitial ads, or native advertising, i.e. when sponsored content is integrated into the normal content feed. Sponsorships may also include exclusive deals or discounts for those who purchase advertised items through the app, or access to premium content usually locked behind a paywall.
The developer promotes products or services from other companies and earns a commission on any generated sales. It is typically done by including links to products or services, redirecting customers to the company’s website. Affiliate marketing may also be done through in-app purchases, where users must purchase products or services from within the application to unlock certain features or content.
Physical goods and services
Users purchase physical goods or services from within the app. It is common for e-commerce projects, where customers buy items such as clothes, electronics, or home goods directly from the application.
Implement technologies your competitors do not have
It gives you a competitive advantage and helps to serve your customers better. Additionally, it is vital to keep up with the latest tech trends to provide the best user experience. We recommend considering:
AI enables computers to simulate human intelligence. AI is used for various purposes, including decision-making, natural language processing, and image recognition.
Blockchain is a distributed database that allows for secure, transparent, and tamper-proof transactions. Blockchain-based apps can offer a new level of security in finance, healthcare, and government industries.
AR technology allows users to superimpose digital content on top of the real world. AR has a wide range of potential applications in the mobile space, including gaming, navigation, and education.
VR allows users to immerse themselves in digital environments. VR has been utilized primarily for gaming and entertainment, but it also has potential applications in healthcare and education.
mCommerce apps typically allow browsing and buying products directly from phones or tablets while offering a personalized shopping experience. Users are provided with discounts and coupons; they easily track their order history and status. Additionally, mCommerce apps offer features such as push notifications that keep customers engaged.
Internet of Things (IoT) App Integration
It is a network of devices connected to the internet that interact with each other (smart TVs, refrigerators, thermostats, and even cars). IoT app integration allows these devices to communicate with each other and share data. For example, a weather app could use IoT integration to communicate with a thermostat to adjust the temperature in the apartment based on the current weather conditions.
Build a strong marketing strategy
Once your application is completed, it’s essential to market it effectively. Once again, look at your competitors and their successful promotion cases. Are there any instruments or traffic channels your competitors do not know about?
Create a marketing plan, including your goals, budget, and promo strategies. What are the next steps?
Use social media
Create accounts on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Post interesting and engaging content that encourages readers to check you out!
Use platforms like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads: these ads are targeted to specific demographics, interests, and locations, making them an effective way to reach your target audience.
Get involved in the community
If there’s an online community related to your topic, get involved! It is a great way to reach potential audiences. For example, if you release a game, participate in forums or Reddit communities related to gaming.
Speak at events
Not only do you reach potential users who are in attendance, but you also gain some valuable press coverage if media platforms write about your talk afterward. Find speaking opportunities by searching for conferences or meetups in your area of interest.
Write guest posts
Cooperate with popular blogs or websites related to your industry and generate buzz. When writing these posts, include a link to your website or download page so readers can easily find your application. Offer special discounts or other incentives to encourage people to try it out!
Collaborate with other businesses in complementary industries
Cross-promote each other and reach new audiences. For example, partner with a grocery delivery service if you have a recipe-sharing app so their customers find out about you while planning their meals. Such a partnership is advantageous for both parties.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want your app to be successful. Conduct market research to know your competitors and target audience. Create a concept and calculate a budget for it. Select an app type that best fits your expectations. Pay attention to design. The look and feel of your application is just as important as its functionality as people are more likely to download a visually appealing product. Spend some time on the details, and make sure all elements are consistent throughout the app. Create a user-friendly application that is easy to navigate. Implement modern technologies that are highly demanded. Build a proper promotional strategy that gives maximum results and choose a fitting monetization model.
And, of course, make sure you work with a professional mobile app development company with great custom app development expertise to create a product that meets your audience’s requirements.