Your mobile app can do more harm than good
September 6, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): mobile apps
In the rush to capitalize on new mobile markets and revenue channels, I have seen many instances of companies hastily developing and releasing mobile apps without thoroughly understanding why they are creating this product or how it could hurt their brand more than it could help. This often happens because companies equate the development of a mobile app with the creation and launch of a website 15 years ago. This is a false analogy. Since there was no universal Internet adoption or the infrastructure for dissemination of complaints, a mistake on an early website could be identified and fixed without much damage to reputation.
With mobile, you get no second chances. While the technology may be relatively new, adoption of mobile has already hit critical mass wherein any mistake will be noticed and spread (via social media) before you can fix it, hurting your company’s reputation (not to mention loss of revenue and customers). Your app has to work the first time. This cannot happen unless you know what you want from your app before it is developed and how to best develop it before it is deployed. Never release an app without a well-defined strategic plan or goals in place. It will do more harm than good.
Before your developers begin writing code, define the role of the app within larger company goals. Is this app going to be for internal or external use? Is it meant to increase revenue, brand awareness, or both? Will you ask users to pay for the app? Is it what your users want?
The initial internal/external decision is usually an easy one to make. Where it becomes tricky is when an internal app goes public or a public app goes viral. Since the app was not originally designed to scale in that manner, the increased user load could quickly overwhelm your back-end infrastructure, disrupting productivity across all applications sharing the same systems and networks, and impacting all users, not just mobile users.
If you decide to release a free or freemium mobile app, you need to be as prepared as you would be for a paid app. It is perceived that people expect less from a free app and will generally tolerate fewer features or slightly slower performance, yet I continue to see where this approach results in a significant onslaught of negative app store reviews, app abandonment, loss of customers, and loss of brand image. Your free app can do more harm than good.