Conducting thorough user research prior to mobile app development is arguably the most important step in the app development process. Far too often we have potential clients reaching out to us with very rough ideas, without much time put into actually assessing user needs. As an experienced mobile app developer, we can provide these services and go through the entire exploratory process with you, however, if you are looking to jump right in to mobile development, there are a number of steps you need to take before any coding should actually begin. Below we will show you how to assess user needs before beginning your project.
The first step in accurately assessing user needs involves actually talking to potential users. Shocker, I know. It might seem simplistic and implied, but far too often clients think they know what their users would want rather than actually asking them. Conduct a handful of interviews, organize a few focus groups comprised of those included in your target audience, and LISTEN. Take ample notes, ask questions, and get inside their heads. This process will prove a gold mine of information. It’s much easier to spend the time and resources to do so in the beginning, than trying to switch gears and make changes after reading reviews on the app store after the fact. Trust us. This is not the time to cut corners.
ASSESSING USER TYPES
Another important step is to outline and asses different potential user types. Often our clients think their simple mobile app concept is just that, but don’t realize it may actually involve a handful of differing app types and/or functionality depending on the user. For instance, take an Uber inspired app. This type of application involves one app for the customer to log in and book a ride, another separate app for drivers, routing them to pick-up locations etc., along with a robust back-end server to tie the whole system together. Suddenly, it’s not just a single standalone app, but an intricate system of parts all working together, adding both to time, cost, and scope of development.
ANALYZING USE CASES
The next step in the process involves thinking of all the possible use case scenarios. Will your users primarily use the app on the go with only partial attention spans, while shopping and browsing in store, when siting down to dine, late at night with ample time to dedicate in app, or perhaps, all of the above? These are the types of use case scenarios you need to think about so that you can account for any challenges that may need to be tackled. From here you can start to more thoroughly outline features, workflows, and begin to see functionality take shape.
Lastly, take a long look at your competitors. Research their features, functionality, target audience, and more. Take a look at app store reviews for insight into real user experiences using the app. Identify pain points, areas of improvement, and possible additional features that a competitor failed to include but are demanded by users. App store reviews are an invaluable resource if you take the time to look.
All in all, the process of understanding user needs should be lengthy, thorough, and serve to shape your development project in its entirety. The amount and quality of time spent considering user needs is what makes the difference between an app with little to no adoption, and one in hot demand.