8 tips on how to develop useful apps
From an idea to making it 'app-en', here's what you need to know, as told by developers from the region.
App developers are becoming the leaders of the online world with new creative solutions and innovations being released for everyone to enjoy. In the Middle East, the developer community is slowly but surely growing with new faces emerging every day. From logistic service apps such as Fetchr, to online shopping like Designer 24, or even gaming like Falcon Valley, these apps have come to add value and entertainment to our lives.
To encourage more people to get into this field, some of the local app developers in the region have shared their insight to the app development process. They have shared their top tips to building a successful app, some of the challenges they faced and the marketing tools necessary.
Emirati game designer and founder of Hybrid Humans Game Studio Fakhra Al Mansoori shares her top three tips to developing an app.
Be passionate and be willing to fail: Make sure you're doing something you're truly interested and invested in, and mostly, good at. More importantly, keep in mind that you might fail on the first go, but you need to learn from every mistake to create a successful app.
"Think of it this way," says Al Mansoori, "if you don't try, there's no opportunity to succeed. Failure at anything is honestly a learning lesson to improve on the next decision you will make."
Understand the platform you are developing your application on: If you understand the capabilities of the operating system you're using, you are better-equipped to take right decisions.
For example, on iOS, Al Mansoori says: "Once you get it right on either iPhone or iPad, you're set. My recommendation is utilize the different features offered on the iOS system so you can understand user behaviour."
Be organised; celebrate the small win: Take it one step at a time, make your lists, and break down the tasks you need to do for a project. The more focus you have on short term goals, the more progress you will see taking place. You can use apps like Trello which can help you manage your work and be more diligent.
App developer and CPO of Designer-24 Samer Bejjani adds his personal take on what it takes to become a developer and how it's an on-going process.
"There's a positive change in the app development and start up scene in the Middle East. The standards and qualities are getting higher with lots of innovation happening within the region. What's more exciting is this upward transition happened in a short period of time, so we are definitely raising the bar," he says.
His top tips include:
Keeping it simple: Design for a great user experience, code for continuous development, and start of by building a minimal viable product first. Stick to the minimum requirements for your first release so you can get the initial round of feedback and testing. Once you have that ready, take the most non-technical friend or family member you have and watch them work the app. Is it intuitive? What is the user experience like?
Staying up to date with learning tools: You never stop learning. If you are new to the iOS platform, Bejjani's advice is to "start using the latest programming language and learn to write code that works and is tested on all supported devices. Once you've done that, design a layout that is adaptive and fluid".
"Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Today you are lucky to have access to thousands of great libraries and components," he adds.
Test, test, test: Apply a solid testing methodology whether it's automated, using focus groups, or otherwise. The standard goal is: does your app meet the requirements when used by your friends and the outside community?
Joy Ajlouni, co-founder and marketing director of Fetchr, a courier service company and the first startup in the Middle East to be funded by a top venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, she shares her tips:
Focus on one segment: The biggest design mistake app developers make is trying to fit too many features at the same time. Your app should have a focused purpose.
"When creating an app, the first question, you need to ask yourself is what's the problem do you want to solve? Focus on that one segment which will be your core business focus. If you start diluting your core value proposition then you become everything to everyone and nothing to everyone. My advice is, make sure to stick to one thing and do it right," Ajlouni says.
Market your product: She says "word of mouth is the one of the most powerful marketing tool in my opinion. We are lucky to be living in a community with big networking opportunities available to us. Once you have a good product that serves a purpose, get the word out. Go to events and make yourself known."
"Another great tool is offering your product for free. It's what we do. If you give the customers the opportunity for a free trial and they use it, then the value proposition and the cost will be much less and more valuable than assigning a budget for digital marketing."
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