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With smartphones attached to the hip of nearly everyone, businesses increasingly craft consumer mobile apps to reach this expanding market. However, simply building an app and publishing it on the App Store or Google Play doesn’t automatically result in success. Instead, any business needs to spend significant time researching a potential target market before launching the app.
Building a mobile app directly targeting consumers has very different considerations from a B2B mobile app in terms of foundational processes, UX, branding, and revenue. If you want your consumer app to be successful, following a detailed development process becomes critical. This effort obviously includes designing and coding the app, but marketing research, revenue models, and branding are also vital.
Let’s dive into the details of everything entailed with designing and building a consumer mobile app based on the success of our clients.
The range of consumer apps available on both major mobile app stores almost boggles the imagination. Nearly every social media network provides a mobile app. Mobile gaming remains massively popular across all video gaming genres. Music apps let users listen to and even create their own music, with a vast array of synths, effects, and other musical instruments available within their own app.
Other specific use cases abound throughout the mobile development world.
Some of the specialty apps include those used to control IoT devices within a home or apartment. One example of an IoT device management app, the Dorel Baby Monitor, combined an IoT camera and microphone which allows parents to check in on their newborns no matter their location. It provides an excellent example of how some mobile apps are part of a platform with various hardware devices.
Obviously, the type of consumer app ultimately depends on its underlying use case: social community, eCommerce, gaming, entertainment, or device control. Now, let’s explore other aspects of the consumer app development process, along with examples from our portfolio of apps built for clients. This information provides a measure of understanding of the complex effort involved.
All consumer app development projects begin with a spark of an idea. The ideation process serves to brainstorm everything about a potential app and its underlying platform if relevant. This process applies whether building a new consumer app or reworking or updating an existing app. Use this time to make a wish list of the features and functionality to provide inside the app.
At this point, significant time needs to be spent researching the potential target market for the consumer app. This step obviously remains the biggest differentiator between consumer apps and those built for enterprise or B2B use cases. In the case of businesses, a captive target market already exists for the app, so the app ideation and design processes focus more on solving a business problem.
For consumer apps, successfully reaching (and captivating) its target audience arguably remains the biggest factor in its success. That’s why so much time needs to be spent in market research.
In addition to informing the app’s design and functionality, it also greatly influences its marketing before and after launch.
NineTwoThree developed Altar Live, a live-streaming app focused on serving the online worship and community world, specifically because we identified that there was a market for church-goers looking to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The app facilitates live video streaming while also providing the means to join in private video conversations with other worshippers. It includes an app for mobile devices as well as an interactive website to engage those users without a smartphone or tablet.
The size of the potential audience also matters, especially when it comes to determining an app’s revenue model. For example, niche consumer apps, like Altar Live, typically require a larger download fee compared to those with a potential for universal appeal where a free-to-play model makes sense. In short, these critical questions all need to be answered during this initial phase of the project.
When NineTwoThree worked on the mobile consumer app Itsavibe, we were tasked with helping businesses connect with social media marketing influencers to build an audience for their product or service. Performing market research to identify a target audience early on was a vital step in the overall success of the consumer app project.
We also built a platform that allows businesses and organizations to create their own self-branded online social community. It provides a structure similar to Slack while still fostering a free flow of communication like Facebook or other social media networks. Importantly, the organization owns all data and can use its own branding within its instance of the app.
Notably, the app supports iOS, Android, and the web, making it easier to reach the largest number of users possible. It provides the means for community owners to provide a private environment free from the censorship found on public social media networks. From a project standpoint, it offers a great example of building a platform to resell to other interested organizations.
Simply stated, if you want your mobile app to have universal appeal, you must build a captivating and intuitive user experience.
A simple information architecture for the app also helps reduce the overall complexity. This is especially the case with mobile apps used to control IoT devices, like the Dorel Baby Monitor app mentioned earlier. Keeping the UI/UX as simple as possible improves usability, leading to more downloads, happier customers, better reviews, and higher revenue.
We always aim to leverage existing consumer app design standards for screen and form layouts, in addition to leveraging common mobile app gestures. This starts by analyzing how some of the most popular apps look and feel for the user. Some useful examples include Facebook, Spotify, WhatsApp, and TikTok.
Altar Live’s app interface effectively provides a virtual version of a church or other worship center. This makes it a very familiar experience for the community members because it mimics their in-person experience. At a glance, participants get an overall view of those currently online with the ability to join conversations or view the main sermon. Beyond the worship use case, this concept also applies to similar community activities and/or meetings.
We also pay close attention to the popular apps in the specific sector the app is targeting. For example, when building a community app, we use the same UX concepts as other popular apps within this niche.
You want to design something as simple to use as a calculator, while still providing robust functionality.
Not surprisingly, determining a revenue model compatible with the goals and target audience for a consumer app remains a crucial effort in the project’s earliest stages. Consumer apps generally involve building a larger user base compared to B2B apps. However, the goal isn’t always to build as large of a user base as possible.
During the early foundational stages, we try to come up with app ideas that require a smaller number of users to reach profitability. If the revenue model requires a million users to become profitable, that requires an extremely long runway. Instead, we aim to create apps that have immense value to a niche group so we can generate higher revenue per user.
However, many consumer mobile app revenue models can be highly effective beyond paid apps:
Depending on the nature of the consumer app, your business might want to build a brand around it. If your business already boasts a strong brand, the app likely serves to complement an existing marketing approach. However, deciding to create a secondary brand around the app itself might help drive downloads and adoption of the app.
However, some emerging startups actually have a consumer app, service, and platform as central to their operations and revenue. In this case, creating a compelling brand around all three makes perfect sense. It also plays a critical role in the eventual success of the startup.
When we worked with Dishare, branding was built into the business model from the beginning. This consumer app provides users with an agnostic approach to restaurant delivery, helping reduce the decision-making fatigue around choosing a dine-in (or out) option. It uses AI algorithms to learn about each user’s diet and food preferences, using that data to make relevant suggestions. The app also motivates the user to try new restaurants that still fit within their desires.
The app encapsulates these preferences into a concept known as a FoodPrint. It also provides a social media crowdsourcing element, allowing users to like and comment on other posts from users with a similar FoodPrint. The use of FoodPrint and social media elements helped grow the branding around Dishare as part of the core functionality of the app - not as an afterthought.
Whatever the specific scenario your business faces, note our team boasts significant experience creating brands for our client partners. This includes both top-shelf graphic design as well as a strategic marketing approach to help the app go viral in both the iOS and Android user communities.
As this case study reveals, building a consumer app requires a strong focus on crafting intuitive interfaces and easy-to-use experience. Still, the best UI/UX design in the world matters little without engaging an audience. This makes researching a potential target market a crucial task at the beginning of any project.
If your organization needs an experienced digital agency with top-shelf technical chops and keen business acumen, look no further than NineTwoThree. Our strong portfolio and insightful reviews reveal how we can help transform your great idea into a compelling consumer app. Connect with us to discuss a potential partnership.