Mobile apps hold great power

What to Do before You Build a Mobile App

When I meet new people and share that I’m a mobile app developer, it’s common to see their eyes light up with joy because they can finally share their mobile app ideas that they’ve been holding onto for so long. This is always a great opportunity for me to learn from people about their ideas and how they visualize the application working. As they explain their thoughts, I contribute by working out the user experience and technical challenges with them to help fuel their vision. I’ve always enjoyed hearing other people’s big ideas and watching their excitement when I talk out the details with them.

You probably have an app idea, too. Maybe your idea stems from a personal need, or it might relate more closely to the needs of your business. Regardless of where your idea comes from, you need to ask some key questions and make important decisions before you start building your app.

1. What is your budget?

If you do nothing else, answer this question! A range is fine, but defining your budget up front is the most important thing you can do to target how much can be accomplished for your app. If you have a lower budget, it may make sense to move some features to a later version of the app. Embracing a phased approach allows you to figure out how your audience uses the app and whether the requested features are necessary.

2. What is the business case?

Mobile apps have many parts. Ask the right questions before you build!In other words, what is the desired outcome of your app? How will it change your business? Is this app going to increase sales, save time, or have some other effect? Or is this app a business in itself? What does the revenue model look like? Are there both free and paid versions? Are there paid features in the app? All of these questions are important to answer early and help ensure that the end product is the right size for your needs and budget.

At BitLoft, we use a process called user story mapping to plot features and user journeys for applications of all sizes. We then prioritize these user stories to come up with a minimum viable product (MVP) set of features. This is the minimum level of functionality the app or project needs in order to fulfill the specified outcome(s). 

3. Who is the primary audience?

Who will use your app? What do you know about the audience? What are the interests, age, and income level of the intended user? Do you know the limitations of what you can and cannot do for certain demographics? Understanding the “who” helps to better define the user interface and experience of the app as well as how specific any in-app tips and walkthroughs need to be.

4. How many users do you plan to have?

If your application is targeting thousands of users daily, your budget will look significantly different than the budget of an app that will have hundreds of thousands or even millions of users. Of course, your app might not have a large number of users immediately, but you should always plan for scalability because shifting the back-end service architecture could have a serious impact on your app’s performance.

5. What is unique about the app?

In a nutshell, what is your app doing that no other app has done or can do? This is crucial because it will play a significant role in the marketing of your application and will help when explaining the app in person to others. You should be able to tell someone what your app does, why it’s needed, how it works, and why it’s relevant within 30 seconds. This description is commonly known as an elevator pitch and is extremely important in marketing and sales.

6. How do you plan to market your application?

Getting your app built and approved in the app store is just the beginning of the journey. Knowing what your selling points are is key to making sure that your app does well in the app store. Depending on your demographic, you will want to market on social media platforms or news articles. It’s important to understand your target audience so that you can launch the application successfully.


If you’re thinking about building a mobile app, our business development and strategy team is experienced at helping work through these questions with you. When the time comes, you’ll find me in the meeting discussing how we will accomplish your goals for user interface and user experience. 

Contact our team now to get started on the process.


Feature image credit: William Hook (@williamtm) on Unsplash

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