Mobile Application Development: Do Your Research First

Something I've been thinking about often lately is the ever increasing number of mobile applications available for the iPhone. I love my iPhone and can't imagine my life without it. And, because I commute to the loop every day on the el, my apps are one of the fastest ways for me to get to information sources that I frequent. Here's the thing though, should every company have an iPhone app? No! But, every company should have a Web strategy for mobile devices (I'll talk more about this broader topic next week) and this strategy should be based on qualitative and quantitative research.

I've lost count of the number of apps I've seen with no obvious purpose for the end user that I assume is being targeted. I'm not suggesting that games sponsored simply for entertainment purposes are not valuable. They definitely have a place in the arena. I am simply recommending that before diving into mobile application development head first, companies should consider the following things at a minimum:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • How do the needs of the different members of the target audience differ from one another?
  • What mobile platform(s) do your intended users use?
  • What level of customization of preferences is needed?
  • How will you continue to update the functionality based on the changing needs of users and evolution of your products or services?
  • Do you have tech support for the mobile apps?
  • Have you informed the rest of your organization about the plans to make sure they know how to talk about the new app(s) with customers/prospects?