Launching a new app can be a pretty daunting task.
A friend of mine recently developed and launched an app that allows wrestlers, parents, and coaches to track wrestling scores, matches, and opponents with ease. It was an idea she’d been thinking about for years.
I’d like to share some important lessons I learned from watching her launch the app.
1. Make sure you’re passionate about the concept behind your app
Every Monday, my friend came into the office saying that she wished there were an easier way to track match stats. Her son’s coach used paper and pencil to take notes, and he’d send her a photo of that via text at the end of the tournament so they could compare notes.
“Passion rooted in need makes for a great product.”
At that point she was transferring all of the data into a spreadsheet. Long story short: it was a nightmare, and she hated it.
When the idea struck her to create a brand-new app to solve the problem, she was pumped.
She decided to build an app regardless of public interest because she needed it to exist for her own benefit, but she thought that other wrestling parents and coaches might be interested in it as well. Passion rooted in need makes for a great product.
2. Launch your app at the right time
She released the app right at the start of the pre-season, and within a week, she had a ton of downloads.
If she’d launched it a few months before or a few months later, it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful at launch.
3. If you’re going to launch the app yourself, make sure you do your pre-marketing months in advance
Before her app was even finished, she posted teaser links in wrestling forums and reached out to wrestling organizations to let them know it was on the way.
4. Check branding options before you become too attached to an app name
She didn’t name her app until she made sure that the domain name, Facebook URL, and Twitter handle were available. If they hadn’t been, she was willing to change the name of the app. Don’t marry yourself to an app name until you’ve secured the appropriate branding.
“Don’t marry yourself to an app name until you’ve secured the appropriate branding.”
5. Perform usability testing with all of the appropriate personas
She tested her app with kids, teens, and adults to ensure that it’d be usable by her entire target audience. She focused closely on UX from the very beginning, which helped with her rapid adoption rate at launch.
6. Once you launch, sincerely ask your users for feedback
After she posted links to the app in various forums, she asked sincerely for feedback and feature requests from her target audience. Her son has only been wrestling for a few years in elementary level tournaments, so she didn’t have experience yet with high school level wrestling. She wanted to make absolutely sure that she was meeting the needs of her entire user base.
7. Iterate like crazy
She launched the app with the features she felt were necessary for success, but she had a plan for various iterations of those features in advance. After launch, several of the feature requests that her users presented were so fantastic that she integrated them in with the first couple of planned feature iterations immediately.
“Once you launch, sincerely ask your users for feedback.”
8. Don’t trip yourself up by trying to integrate every requested feature, but don’t get so focused on your planned iterations that you don’t listen to feedback from your target audience
This is quite possibly one of the trickiest parts of app development. The knee-jerk reaction in the beginning stages is to include every single feature request people send your way. Over time your app will become huge and cumbersome and so feature-heavy that the UX will suffer.
At the same time, you can’t get so obsessed with your pre-planned release strategy and timeline that you don’t take time to integrate the best feature requests while you work on iterations of existing features.
Strike a balance between these 2 areas, and you’ll wind up with a phenomenal app that really meets your users’ needs.
9. Pre-plan your monetization strategy
Before she’d even finished her app, she reached out to some experienced industry folks through Twitter and other social media outlets to determine the best way to monetize her app.
The option she landed on makes perfect sense for her audience. Don’t think that you need to milk people dry from the beginning to make money. I rarely download an app that I have to pay for unless I have an opportunity to try a lite version first—and I often find myself upgrading to the paid version if I love the app. That said, the freemium model isn’t the best approach for all apps and target audiences. Do your research.
10. Add analytics from the get-go
Know what’s awesome? Being able to watch the use of your app increase on a daily basis, and having the opportunity to watch which features are being used the most. Custom events in Google Analytics are a great way to keep an eye on what’s going on with your app in real time.
You can also put together some pretty killer stat sheets based on the data you receive on a monthly basis. Having analytics access also helps you locate problem areas from a UX perspective with ease.
Don’t let stress over your launch put you in a half nelson. Use these tips to ease your angst and get organized.
UX and Content Strategist at InVision and UX Blogger at UserExperienceRocks.com. Fan of: my daughter, photography, writing, and beautiful usable things.