When beginning a mobile app development project, it’s difficult to consider the possibility of failure. But the reality is some mobile apps will not succeed as you had hoped or expected. Failure can take many forms, from an enterprise mobile app that’s less efficient than the prior system to a consumer-facing app that just never caught on.
So, how do you recover from a bad app design? How do you enter your next development project with confidence? And how do you convince company leaders to approve funds for a new app when your last application fell short of expectations?
Learning From Your Mistakes
A failed mobile strategy can generate lots of useful insights that can improve your chances of success with your next project. The key is honestly evaluating the app and all related data to determine why the project failed. Here are a few things you might discover as you comb through uninstall data and other metrics:
- Low install rate that never increased: This indicates prospective users just never found your app, which could result from a lackluster or underwhelming marketing campaign. You may also see this if there are many similar apps available, signaling that you would need a robust marketing campaign to get established in that niche.
- A high uninstall rate and poor long-term retention rate: A high uninstall rate can indicate your app lacked utility or user-friendliness, particularly if users were uninstalling shortly after the initial launch. It could be the app was hard to use and navigate. Your app may have lacked features the user expected to be present or had a functionality issue or device compatibility problem. It’s also possible there were features that annoyed the user, such as prominent advertisements.
- Sudden drop-off in app usage: If app usage drops suddenly, this can signal a hardware or software compatibility problem. For instance, if your app doesn’t play well with the latest version of iOS, then users may abandon the app.
- Low uninstall rate with low engagement: Users may have kept the app installed, but rarely—if ever—launched it beyond the first or second use. This can indicate the user found the app had nice features and delivered a positive user experience but wasn’t engaging in a way that prompted the individual to utilize it regularly. Notably, some apps do not lend themselves to frequent usage. For instance, if your app helps pet owners find local veterinarians, users may install the app and launch it once or twice…then never again. After all, once you find a great vet, you probably don’t need to find another one for a while. In this case, developers would need to integrate additional features to make the app engaging on a recurring basis, such as a JustAnswer-style paid Q&A interface or a library of pet health and training tips, with daily push notifications for new tips.
Poshmark is an app that effectively promotes engagement using push notifications. The person-to-person sales app generates push notifications a couple times per day with clever or inspirational sayings (this is totally in line with app store regulations, which prohibit apps from using push notifications to advertise promotions or sales). Without these notifications, you may forget you’ve installed the app, so the sayings reduce uninstall rate and drive engagement.
These problems may be fixable, although a rebranding effort and relaunch is often required because it can be hard to convince a user to give your app a second chance. But revamping an app to make it more user-friendly and engaging is often achievable; in other instances, it may be best to start fresh. Your app developer and marketing team can offer insight into which avenue is best. Sometimes, it can be as simple as revamping your mobile monetization strategy or adding a useful user tutorial.
Enterprise apps and B2B apps may fail due to poor architecture and design or a lack of efficacy or practicality. An app concept may be nice in theory, but in practice, it may be less efficient than the prior way of doing business. There have also been cases where a company developed a native app with the intention of migrating all hardware to that particular platform. But if that hardware change doesn’t occur, you could be left with an app that’s unusable or only usable on a portion of devices. At the end of the day, you need to identify precisely why the app isn’t bringing the desired results and how you can alter your mobile strategy to achieve your goals.
Every consumer-facing app should include a feedback portal, even if it’s just a temporary feature. This can provide valuable hints about user experience, what elements are useful and what areas could be improved. Alternatively, many developers include a “why are you uninstalling” box that requires the user to tick a reason or enter a comment explaining why they opted to uninstall. But this feature only works if you include an uninstaller within the app interface—a move many companies are not keen on, as it presumes some users will dislike the application. In most cases, though, it’s better to be realistic instead of idealistic.
Is Anything Salvageable?
You’ll need to consider whether there is anything worth salvaging or reusing from your old mobile application. If your app was developed more than a couple years ago, you may be better-suited by an entirely new app that reflects more modern development strategies. Software and hardware compatibility is another consideration, and you’ll need to determine what functions and features to add or eliminate.
Also, there’s a good chance you got what you paid for if you hired a low-cost developer. Many companies with failed mobile strategies were destined for failure from the get-go due to their choice of developer. What’s more, poor or outdated app development methods can make a revision more time consuming than a total rebuild and revamp. So, these cases are more likely to involve an app that’s a total loss.
Moving Forward With a New Development Project
Learning from past mistakes is key, then determine what—if anything—can be salvaged. Finally, build a winning strategy that takes these lessons into account. View that failure as a learning opportunity that will maximize your chances of success with this new mobile strategy.
If your company leadership is hesitant to take action, point out that mobile applications are growing in popularity. Whereas a mobile app was an optional novelty a couple years ago, they’re now a necessary tool for many companies. One failure shouldn’t stand in your way of finding future success.
Of course, you need to find the right mobile developer to transform your concept into a reality. For many projects, SevenTablets is the perfect development team, as we have extensive experience creating mobile apps built-to-suit our client’s unique goals. We work with a range of different technologies, such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, machine learning, predictive analytics and blockchain.
At SevenTablets, our approach is different from your typical development firm. We take a ‘business first’ approach, aimed at understanding your business and your pain points. Next, we identify opportunities to make your new mobile development project help you increase revenue, reduce operating costs, increase efficiency or some combination of the three. Our team will guide you through every step of the process, from validating your idea to executing a remarkable mobile app marketing strategy.
VK studied computer science at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad, India and earned a Master’s Degree in computer science at George Mason University.
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