“It depends on what the business is today, where its future is and how its customers will expect to interact with that business now and in the future.”

GoSnow is a social media app for iOS and Android devices that makes it easy for skiers and snowboarders worldwide to organise trips and meet up. And while the social networking platform now provides full integration with Facebook, so users can see if they’ve got shared friends and interests, founder Sean Bellerby is well aware that app development is not an overnight process.

Before building anything, Bellerby believes an SME should first validate what ‘problem’ they’re trying to solve with potential users.

“And I don’t mean by sending a survey. The entrepreneur should instead rapidly conduct interviews with potential inspiring users to understand their experience in relation to what the SME is trying to achieve.

“For GoSnow I cruised up and down Manly talking to people in surf shops, and I asked questions to anyone I met through the day about their experiences on ski and snowboard trips.”

Make user experience a priority

You’ve got to invest some serious time and thought into translating what your potential customers want into brand values and design principles that can guide and shape the app-building process.

Having carried out significant research, Bellerby enlisted the talents of a top app developer with excellent user experience and design skills.

“The team still tested GoSnow on real users prior to release, meaning we constantly learn and iterate. All these components are important.

“While getting to market fast is a priority, my view is that nothing beats real user feedback to build a great user-friendly app.”

If you don’t have an on-site developer, Bellerby recommends outsourcing it to an app developer who has an excellent reputation and understands what you’re looking to achieve.

“Things can go pear-shaped when developing software products, so you need to make sure you’re working with people who are focused on quality and not their own costs.”

Integrate with social networks

The integration of apps with social platforms can improve the reach and scope of small businesses, says Bellerby, who believes embracing the mobile future can help your company stay competitive.

“It depends on what the business is today, where its future is and how its customers will expect to interact with that business now and in the future.”

If your customers are online then not having an active presence across a range of social networks could result in a gap in your offering.

If an app creates value for your customers, and helps you increase competitiveness and profits, then this added online presence is something to consider.

“Overall, validate before building anything, partner with a great app developer and make sure you’ve thought through marketing and a business model.”

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