Capturing users’ attention and keeping it is becoming increasingly difficult for apps. While the app economy is only rising, users are becoming more selective about the apps they download, and are spending less time in apps. Hence, individual app makers have to work harder to draw the user’s attention. If not done properly, your app may go unnoticed or drive much less engagement than it needs to, to survive and generate positive revenue. In such a competitive app ecosystem, the key to grabbing user’s attention is doing lots of research before you begin development.
It is highly unlikely that you will begin building a house before creating a detailed plan, estimating the various costs, finding out what materials you will need and essentially answering hundreds of questions about building a home. Yet, a number of businesses jump into app development – which is often as expensive as building a home – without the requisite research. Doing so exposes businesses to a number of risks like overshooting budgets and launching a weak product, which can be detrimental to the success of your business. That is why you need to understand and execute the ‘Discovery Phase’ with a lot of care. After all, the discovery phase must be pretty important if the government of UK has recognized it and released a document for digital businesses, stressing the importance of discovery. You can check it out right here.
So What Is The Discovery Phase?
The discovery phase of an app’s development cycle is the stage that comes before you begin actively building the app. In the discovery phase, you essentially gather all the information you need before you start development. This includes doing the research to understand your market, the unique needs of your users, their likes and preferences, your competition, your unique selling proposition, your marketing strategy, possible contingencies and a whole lot more.
In short, the discovery phase helps you create a blueprint for your app project that will guide you in the right direction and minimize the risk of creating a less than perfect product for your users.
In this blogpost, let us talk about the different steps in the discovery phase and then take a look at how the discovery phase – when executed well – helps your app survive the highly competitive app ecosystem.
Steps in the Discovery Phase
While the kind of research you do and the information you gather largely depends on your business goals and type of app, there is a loose structure most app makers follow in the discovery phase.
1. Concept Analysis
So you have an idea that you think will turn out to be a great app users will flock to download. But just going with your gut feeling might not be a very bright business move and hence, you need to validate you idea. You need to do thorough research and analysis to really see how much business potential your idea has. Is there really a demand for it, would people really pay to use your app, will your app really have long term value? Those are the questions you need to answer in the concept analysis stage.
2. Market Analysis
Here’s an important one – you need to do a thorough market analysis. Don’t just assume that you can create a product and users will come. Know the users first and then create the product for them. That is why you need to perform market research and assess the kind of users that may download your app – their age, occupation, income, region, gender and other attributes that influence your monetization potential.
In addition to market research for potential users, you also need to perform a competitor analysis at this stage. You need to be sure that no one else is already offering the solution that you are planning to develop. If they are, you need to scope them out thoroughly and find gaps in their services, that you can fill. You can see by the number of candy crush clones that flock the app stores that repackaged stale ideas don’t work. Go out there, talk to real people, look around in the app stores and get a complete lay of the land.
3. Requirement Gathering
Okay, so you know you need to build a house. You need the steel, the sand and the concrete. You know that. But to actually get down to the job, you need a whole lot more. Apart from the obvious and major materials, you need to acquire the smallest tools, down to the spade.
The same goes for developing an app too. You need to carefully map all the features and functionalities you want to incorporate in your app and you need to do this in the discovery phase. This way, you will develop only the features that are essential to your user experience, thus increasing the efficacy and stickiness of your app, helping it attract the right users and keeping the highly engaged.
Yes, wireframing falls in the discovery phase of an app. You prepare the basic visual layout of the app, and get a proper idea of how it will look to the end user.
5. UI Prototyping
Prototypes are the step ahead of wireframes, letting you see how the app will look complete with the graphics and visuals.
6. Tools and Technology
At this stage, you decide all the different tools and technologies including the languages, platforms, frameworks and other technologies you will be using for development. This is a crucial stage as you need to have the right tools working in tandem, and last minute changes will damage the product.
There are some unique advantages to conducting the discovery phase well that will eventually ensure a well rounded product that is just what your users wanted. Because you took the time to carefully analyze user needs and preferences, you are able to create an app personalized to their tastes. You are able to give users just what they have been missing all this time and that is a huge advantage.
Additionally, because you have clearly defined the project goals, requirement and technologies, you can accurately estimate costs and timelines, minimizing error and losses. This helps you keep development on track and not lost out on the efficacy of the app due to mismanagement of resources. You avoid expensive last minute changes, keep your teams right on track and come up with the perfect app solution that your users will love to pay for.