5 Pitfalls for Mobile App Startups

Oleg Lola

Some mobile startups are born from a pure concept. Some are based on an already existing model. A project is developed, launched, and pushed up the ladder towards recognition.

Now, there’s quite a low percentage of startups that can actually be called successful, and there are many reasons for that. These could be separate problems or in combinations: not enough planning, too much planning, hard competition, bad quality of the outcome etc. The mistakes that app developers make – the pitfalls that startups stumble over – can force a  startup to face the dangers of becoming a flop.

These pitfalls can be avoided and should be revealed from the very beginning. First you need to identify them. Here are five to watch out for.

Being Unprepared

Coming to the fight unprepared equals failure – but what exactly does “unprepared” mean for a startup? How can an owner or a developer become “prepared” to launch a project?

As much information as possible must be gathered about similar products on the market. Consultations with specialists must make sure that the project can be actually implemented, and the corresponding documentation should be created (however, the latter can be created by a skilled development company). There has to be a killer feature that makes the software better than its competitors.

Another problem is flawed budgetary planning. A limited amount of budget can be properly handled, for example, by building the most needed features first, and keeping the secondary ones for a follow-up release. The more materials there are, the fewer problems are likely to arise during the development cycle.

Building an App “For Everyone”

Of course, every startup would like to gather as many users under their banner as possible. However, trying address every single possible need or preference of every single possible app user generally doesn’t work out too well. What’s good for one person may be unnecessary or unacceptable for another.

Ways in which potential app users can be grouped for the purpose of focus include age, gender, nationality, culture, level of education an more. I’m not suggesting you develop an app to be discriminatory, but these factors can help you segment your potential customer base and allow you to focus on a segment that is most likely to buy and use your app. To understand their needs, create an image of a user. The more precise it is, the more requirements and purposes can be defined.

A side effect of making an app too broadbased in its focus is that you’ll need to complicate your software to meet everyone’s needs. The way users interact with your software is also important. The simpler it is, the better.

The bottom line is that identifying, characterizing and understanding your specific target audience can be the difference between success and failure.

Unspecified Monetization

The goals of the app startup must be crystal clear; the same is true with regard to monetization. How will a startup make users pay, and which method of payments would be the most comfortable for users? The startup has to be competitive, better than others in some distinct way. Then the software owner can choose a model of monetization (one-time initial payment, freemium, in-app purchases, subscriptions etc.), or combine several for the most efficient result.

Too Many Changes During Development

Once the development process is launched, changes in features and requirements are highly undesirable. It takes additional time to rewrite the code in order to further customize the application. That is likely to create conflicts with budget and deadlines. It’s generally better to leave functional improvements to a later, newer version.

For many projects, agile development is the answer; it opens more opportunities for changes and is generally as flexible and responsive as software development can be. But since software development is an individual and creative work, changes may take a while. The rest depends on the budget and the deadline. If a startup doesn’t have additional resources for unforeseen complications, perhaps it’s better to call it off.

Neglecting User Feedback

Opinions are vital. Users are the ones who’ll get the amenities of the software product, the ones who’ll pay for it.  Obviously, they won’t want to pay for what they don’t need and don’t like. They are one of the most valuable sources of recommendations, which can be used to make the product better and better.

User feedback, user reviews and ratings on the application store: the importance of these cannot be overestimated. Many people read reviews before purchasing – and look at the ratings even earlier. If the rating is lower than 4 stars out of 5, they may at once abandon it in favor of another application.

Getting users’ attention, and, what’s more important, retaining it, is both a major goal and a major problem for many mobile app startups.

There is no constant recipe for success, no matter how attractive the concept is; but an informed startup owner with a proper marketing campaign, and an eye on every single detail, has a much greater chance of becoming a winner.

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