veryone’s bound to take wrong decisions based on wrong hypotheses when developing an application for the first time. With the help of our trusted and well-experienced software development partner Appolica, we decided to put together a list of the top 7 mistakes mobile startups usually make based on false assumptions.
1. Native apps are too expensive and time-consuming
Cross-platform apps have been gaining more and more popularity recently. App SDKs such as Flutter seem to be reducing the production time significantly as you are coding (or you’re paying someone to code) only once while ending up with 2 or 3 apps at the same time. Beyond the obvious advantages, however, there are a few drawbacks to these platforms. For example, if you want to support the OS-specific features, you need to wait for the platform to actually start supporting them.
Next, you need to rely on a lot of dependencies. Let’s say you’ve used React Native to build your product - you may find yourself in an unenviable situation in case Facebook stops supporting it all of a sudden. All in all, a good rule of thumb is to first create the app for only one operating system, test it, validate its product-market-fit, and then continue with the rest of the operating systems.
2.Building a mobile app internally will be faster
Good software engineers are a commodity, great ones are a rarity. Recruiting the team that will be able to bring to life your vision may take months - and still not take you anywhere. If the founders are not tech-savvy it is unlikely that they will be able to attract the right talent or manage it afterwards. How can they define the type of framework or programming languages that need to be used, estimate the time it takes for the app’s different components to be developed, or break down the work into adequate sprints, etc.?
3. Building big features without validating the idea/product
You don’t need to spend tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of euros to create intricate software only to realize that no one actually wants to use it. Start by creating initial drafts of your screens (called wireframes) and then present them to whoever you may consider to be your target audience so that you can begin collecting invaluable feedback. It may turn out that they are confused by the abundance of buttons or that they don’t understand the screens pattern. It would be best if you ask complete strangers rather than friends and family who tend to be biased (especially if they’ve been aware of your project for a while now). Only once you are certain of the features that will be truly appreciated, can you continue with the actual development.
4. Building an app for more than one platform
Always conduct market research before releasing a product - it might turn out that you don’t need to distract yourself by developing it both for iOS and Android. Understand which is the more popular one among your target audience - preferences may differ not only from region to region but also from industry to industry. Furthermore, as you try to reach a product-market-fit some features are likely to be added in the process while others - removed. Having gone down this path already will allow you to avoid a lot of mistakes and iterations while building the application for the second operating system.
5. Delivering all the features at once
Many founders out there reckon that the more features they include in their app, the more needs it will meet and the more people it will attract. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The most popular apps in the world serve crystal clear purposes and provide their users with an intuitive UX that does not require any explanation whatsoever. The lack of clarity frustrates most users and they would rarely give you a second chance after the first 30 seconds of trying to figure out how your app equivalent of a swiss army knife works.
Therefore, always try to implement one core unique feature first in your MVP, which should be as small and simple as possible. Only after you’ve validated that it’s serving its purpose and that people love it, continue with your app development. Remember, the user journey resembles a learning curve - and the steeper it is, the greater the churn rate. Occasionally introducing new features will delight your userbase that is already familiar with your app’s capabilities and will ultimately lead to a notable retention rate. And you can’t get that precious feedback unless you’re in the App Store - so speed should be your priority, not complexity.
6. Finding beta testers will be easy
Sorry to shatter your illusions, but posting your app on Product Hunt will not attract the thousands of adopters you are hoping for. What they are generally looking for is ‘freebies’ - so don’t expect them to stick around after they’ve received them. Again, your inner circle is likely to be way too positive about anything you do and will not give you the objective criticism you need. Instead, look for your first users at entrepreneurial group meetups or any events where like-minded people (who may enjoy your product) gather. The key is to be as active as possible from day one, to interact with your potential users, and to keep them informed about your project. Make them feel as if they are part of your story and demonstrate to them that their voices are being heard loud and clear.
7. Refuse to change the initial plan
Adaptability is the name of the game. Don’t think that just because you have a good-sounding and good-looking product, you will stay with the same concept along your journey. You may have to turn a certain feature into your main one or focus on a client niche you hadn’t previously thought of. If necessary - pivot. Be prepared to make some expensive mistakes as these are inevitable. However, once you realize your errors, make sure to put your effort into fixing them before they drag the whole project into the abyss. When all your beta testers complain that they don’t comprehend your app, don’t think that the problem lies in them - it is always in you. The sooner you actually listen to all the comments about your product, the better.