Remove any confusion and embrace the design process with these expert tips
“Our primary focus when developing a mobile app is always on the end user,” says FirstStep cofounder Tarang Patel. “Our end user may differ in terms of their characteristics or demographics, but we’re guided by some key principles,” he says.
FirstStep is a mobile app that lets users invest loose change from everyday purchases into a diversified investment portfolio, comprising exchange traded funds (ETFs). As a bootstrapped startup, FirstStep is developing an app for both iOS and Android internally.
“As a startup with both technical and non-technical founders, our capability to develop apps and backend infrastructure is held in-house,” explains Patel.
Increasingly things are moving towards an online and mobile-first world, he says. For those brick-and-mortar stores without an app, they should fundamentally rethink the value that a physical presence provides to their customers in this digital age.
If you are thinking about an app, here are four proven ways to get it right, according to Patel.
1. Design and develop with the user in mind
“We wanted to develop an app that is intuitive and easy to use,” says Patel. “Also, as an investment app, we wanted to be as transparent as possible with our users with regards to returns and fees.” This might seem obvious, but if your user can’t easily use the app, then they certainly won’t download it.
2. Engage customers with an easy-to-navigate interface
“We try and integrate various design elements that make the app feel great to the user. We focus a lot of time on user-experience and ensuring the sign-up process involves the least amount of steps and is as simple as possible.”
3. Make the most of your skills and resources
An ability to code can significantly reduce the costs of app development, says Patel. “If an on-site developer is unavailable, this is when development costs must be seriously considered. Decisions need to be made on whether to build in native iOS or Android, or use a hybrid approach. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and both have their inherent limitations. These decisions will need to be made on a case-by-case basis.”
4. Identity and avoid potential pain points
To understand the customer journey, think about the user-experience as well as their pain points, says Patel. Consider the various types of customers you might have and analyse where the problems, delays and time-consuming situations stem from. “Focusing on the ‘job’ the user is trying to undertake is a better way to think of the problem, which then helps you rethink the design and functionality of the app.”