Delivering an outstanding mobile app customer experience starts with proper planning and clear documentation. In the beginning, it’s inspiring to imagine your final product, and every idea is exciting, but to help your chances of success, you need to remain focused on the core functionality of the product and how it introduces customer value to the market. Mobile app planning is essential for taming your initial inspiration enough to build a robust framework for development and ensuring the product you ship is the one your customers need.
Here is a list of five necessary components for creating a high-quality, mobile app customer experience.
1. Know the Purpose of Your Product
At every stage of the development lifecycle, some circumstances can inflate the scope of your project leaving you with a product that is far removed from your original concept. Documenting the purpose of your mobile app and how it aligns with the strategic vision of your business is the best way to avoid product deviations.
Successful mobile apps have a clear purpose and communicate that purpose accurately to its customers. A product requirements document (PRD) helps to start the process of determining the requirements necessary to deliver the app’s value promise. A PRD includes a section that addresses business requirements and typically outlines how your mobile app will address customer needs. A few questions to address are:
What are you trying to accomplish?
What is the current problem(s) it will solve?
What is the product vision?
What should the app be able to do?
What features will it need?
Defining the purpose of your mobile app puts you in the best position to align product features with customer needs and set baseline requirements to develop those features.
2. Follow the Two Rules of Product Requirements Definition
1. Do not create mobile app requirements based on existing products.
2. Validate product requirements with a combination of market research, behavioral data, and competitor analysis.
In mobile app development, it’s crucial to plan product functionality in line with customer experience; you can’t pick features by copying competitor or precursor products. During mobile app planning, you need to validate whether new or existing features resonate with your target customer.
Validating product requirements is mandatory for planning, and if you overlook this process, you can potentially cause your project to move ahead in the development cycle even though your product’s features don’t necessarily address customer demand. This scenario is also known as scope creep, and it causes delays in development and inflates your budget to backtrack or rework misunderstood features.
A PRD helps protect your project from scope, budget, time and many other risks. The document communicates the primary requirements necessary to deliver an excellent mobile app customer experience for a very real pain-point.
3. Develop Iteratively
The most successful mobile apps on the market today started much smaller and grew over time. The minimum viable product (MVP) development method tests the minimum form of your product on the market. This strategy allows your team to validate (or invalidate) product assumptions and learn how your target users experience and react to the app’s core purpose. This approach will provide insight into which features satisfy customer demand and improve customer experience. Building an MVP is an iterative process designed to identify customer needs and determine the proper functionality to address those needs over time.
4. Don’t Mistake Innovation for Value
The rush to incorporate innovation can cause mobile app development costs to explode. Just because you can include a particular feature, doesn’t mean you should. Emerging technologies and capabilities can sometimes create panic and cause the implementation of new requirements thoughtlessly.
The purpose of mobile app planning is to minimize fluctuation between initial requirements and what is developed; however, external forces like user demand, technological advancement, and competitive threat emerge during the development lifecycle. These unexpected realities can cause you and your team to think that development needs to make a U-turn, but rather than speeding up the implementation of new requirements, your PRD serves as a reference point to thoughtfully consider the necessity of change in relation to your product goals.
5. Talk to the Experts
One of the most critical steps in mobile app planning is asking the right questions before you start the development process. It’s recommended to work with potential vendors or consultants to discuss the budget, scope and technical expectations of your project to deliver the best customer experience possible.
All too often, companies pursue app development without a clear-cut concept or plan for their product; the result is poorly defined requirements and poor customer experience.
Sometimes, the best way to ensure your planning phase covers all the necessary bases is to engage with experts to set product goals, understand the business outcomes of your product, and prioritize mobile app features together.
Are You Delivering Value to the Mobile App Market?
When you begin planning your mobile app, it’s not unusual to have countless ideas and features in mind; however, it’s crucial to narrow your focus to a core set of features that provide the most value. A product requirements document outlines the basic functionality of your mobile app before development begins, so you are prepared to mitigate communication issues that may arise during the development process and you can stay focused on the overall goal of your mobile app.