Want to build a tech app but have no idea where to start? The Twenty Mile Club caught up with Ritam Gandhi, the Founder and Director of Studio Graphene – a London-based company that specialises in the development of blank canvas tech products including apps, websites, AR, IoT and more. The company has completed over 50 projects since first being started in 2014, working with both new entrepreneurs and product development teams within larger companies. Which is why there is no better person to guide us in the best way to build a successful app

Regardless of the sector your business is based in, having an online presence has become a necessity in today’s digital world. Consumers and businesses generally expect a service or product to have an online component, be it an app or website, that enhances their user experience.

Apps are a prime example of how technology is changing customer demands and expectations. As of Q1 2019, there were 2.2 million iOS apps and 2.6 million Android apps available to download.

As someone who works with startups to build and launch apps, the importance of a slick and functional app cannot be stressed enough. And while to the casual observer the process of building an app may seem like a relatively simple process, data shows that the vast majority of companies are failing when it comes to building effective and engaging apps. Statistics suggest that the average app loses approximately three-quarters of users within just three days. By the end of the third month, 90% of those original users are gone.

So how can entrepreneurs and businesses go about creating a successful app? Here a few helpful hints we at Studio Graphene offer to our clients…

Simplicity is key

When building an app from scratch, it’s important to focus on just one core feature. In other words, the objective of the app should be immediately clear.

How? Start by identifying what value your app is bringing to the user and direct all the focus on making sure this comes through in the functionality. For instance, mobile banking apps will need to ensure the user can intuitively view their balance and transfer money, without unnecessary frills or a clunky user face.

If the flow of the app isn’t intuitive, users will lose patience; they don’t want excess features cluttering their experience, particularly as most people rely on apps for their ease and convenience. In my experience, adding unnecessary functions can dilute the functionality.

To ensure you’ve achieved this step, ask yourself – will the user be able to navigate the app without any guidance?

The ultimate goal is to build an app that is user-friendly, as well as visually appealing. Good design is key here. It’s easy to overlook the visual aspect of an app, but it’s crucial that the app is designed with a specific audience in mind. By this I mean that it should resonate with the target user base in terms of its design, look, feel and usability. Businesses need to understand their prospective users, and this is where market research can be extremely helpful.

Test, test, test!

Once built, an app must go through a series of stress tests to ensure that there are no snags that slip past. Indeed, the performance of an app is one of the biggest predictors of mobile app success. A negative user experience generally comes down to poor performance, which can take a toll not only on the number of users but also on overall brand perception.  According to Dimensional Research, 80% of app users will only attempt to use a problematic, poor functioning app, three times or less.

That’s why I would encourage everyone to take the time to make sure there are no hidden bugs which could upset the user experience. Test the app extensively across different hardware (if your app has been built to work on different devices) and revisions of operating systems to prevent the possibility of glitches springing up on selective setups.

You must remember that apps are dynamic entities and demand constant updates and reviews.

Listen to your users

On the subject of regular updates, it can be helpful to get feedback from your users to gauge what features they want to see.

While adding too many features at the beginning of the app creation process is not advisable, adding additional elements as you grow and onboard more users can help your app stay relevant and engaging. You can do this once you have an established user base around your core features.

I would encourage businesses to branch out and test what elements bring in more users and lead to drastic improvements in functionality. This could be done by integrating in-app communication channels – such as feedback surveys – where users can offer their thoughts and suggestions.

Understanding what users expect from an app as everyday technology advances and new ideas are integrated into mobile app development will help build ongoing user loyalty.

Given the wide-ranging nature of apps, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a successful app. Indeed, there is no definition of what a successful app even looks like. But paying attention to the fundamentals can pave the way to success. And for those who lack the experience or confidence to develop their own app, there are plenty of agencies like Studio Graphene on hand to lend their expertise.

Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director of Studio Graphene