Once a problem is identified and agreed upon, you can quickly learn who your users are through research and contextual inquiries.

In a time when smartphone use is rising exponentially, the opportunities to capitalise on this need and turn your app idea into reality are enormous. 

But there are always a number of key decisions to address first when you’re building an app, according to Cloakr director and founder Dominic Goldsworthy.

Cloakr is a SaaS cloakroom management and customer-insight tool for any sized venue. The app relieves the cloakroom of its most common problem – lost tickets – while automating outdated processes to save time and money for the venue, he says.

Launching in January last year, the app is now used in more than 20 venues, and in August reached a big milestone: 100,000 items have been cloaked through the platform.

When embarking on any app design and development project, Goldsworthy says it’s critical to gain a solid understanding of what kinds of decisions and challenges you will face:

Identify what problem you are solving for your customers  

“I worked in the hospitality industry for many years seeing cloakroom staff overworked and frustrated with intoxicated patrons losing their ticket and unable to identify their belongings,” says Goldsworthy.

“Like any business the founder(s) should have identified a problem to be solved. There’s no shortage of problems that need solving and the best place to start is with something personally affecting you. For example, Cloakr seeks to make lost tickets a thing of the past,” he says. 

Have a clear understanding of who your target market is

Goldsworthy says that once a problem is identified and agreed upon, you can quickly learn who your users are through research and contextual inquiries.

“During a winter at university, I worked at a busy local venue that didn’t provide a cloakroom. I took this opportunity to begin testing and researching my solution by operating the cloakroom on Tuesday nights,” he says.

“You should tease out as much information as possible to understand the users’ needs and how they might use and interact with the possible solution that you create,” he says.

Ask six essential questions before choosing a platform

1.                   Are we B2B or a consumer app?

2.                   Do we need to cater for all devices?

3.                   Will we charge a download fee, or provide the app for free?

4.                   Will we need to provide in-app purchases for users?

5.                   Does a subscription model work for our app?

6.                   Does the app require external hardware?

As a founder you are initially solving problems for yourself, but ultimately you need to design and tailor the solution for the end-users, says Goldsworthy.

“By better understanding a user’s needs, decisions can be made around which platform best suits their needs and what the costs might look like to provide a solution.”

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