user personas

User Personas: What are They and Why Do You Need Them?

To strategically develop an application tailored to users’ actual requirements, the application must boast a user-centric design. The most effective way of understanding end-user psyche is by generating user personas.

Well before the actual app development begins, the product team must have a crystal-clear understanding of the user personas that, in essence, represent the characteristics and needs of the application’s various user groups.

What are User Personas?

User personas are life-like, fictional characters that are created to reflect the goals, behaviors and pain points of the intended app users.  They clarify what people do, why they do it and what they really  need/want from a product. Basically, personas provide a guideline of what the final user experience delivered by the app should involve.

To make the most out of user personas, they must be realistic and concentrate on the present instead of the future. Personas can help you in understanding:

  • The context(s) in which the product will be used
  • The current behaviors of the end users
  • The general attitudes of the users
  • What users want/need from the product that you’re designing
  • The difficulties that the users want to overcome through your application

How to create a User Persona?

User personas are usually created in the early phases of the design process but they may evolve throughout the design and development process.

To create your app’s personas, you will need to put aside your expectations of your customers in order to collect true data.  After analyzing the collected data you can effectively determine what different user groups will be searching for in your application.

Let’s have a look at how to create a winning persona for your application.

1. Researching Personas

The first step in creating a persona is conducting either primary or secondary research or a combination of both. The end goal, however, is to find high-quality and accurate data for generating a complete user profile.

Primary Persona Research

Primary persona research focuses on collecting first-hand data from the target audience through focus group experiments or by surveying the market in-person. This kind of research will help you in getting to know your end-users, giving you an edge over your competitors.

Secondary Persona Research

Secondary persona research makes  use of the already existing data. It requires less investment, but calls for more time to make an accurate analysis of the available data. This type of research requires looking for user data through social media platforms, existing case studies and other interactive forums.  For gathering more targeted data, pre-existing online surveys can also be used.

2. Analyze Research Data

The next step is to identify user characteristics and behavioral patterns that emerge from user research. Analyze the data collected during the research and group the users according to their unique characteristics and behavior patterns.

There should be a persona for each user group that contributes to the business goals of the application.

3. Essential Creation Process

The final step is to create a complete profile of user personas; one representing each user group that formed during the analysis phase.

Begin with describing the basic characteristics of the personas like age, career, hobbies, their goals for using the app etc. Factor in their approach towards technology and explain what they may expect from your application.

You can also add a list of websites or apps they use regularly. Create a clear visual representation with all of these details listed for each persona so that the entire team understands who they’re building the application for.

Example of a User Persona

Example of User Personas

The Pre-App Launch User Personas

Before the launch of the app, the user personas can help you in creating a human vision of the theoretical users that do not exist in reality yet.

Carrying out research is not enough; the UX designers and developers must dedicate the necessary time to the persona creation process. This would save time during the later stages of the app development process.

Post-App Launch User Personas

One of the central tenets of user-centric design is that the more you learn about your users, the more successful your application becomes. However, once your app is launched, you will need to monitor user behavior continuously and see if the app fits the changing market needs.

Learning about the app users continuously and seeing how well your app resolves their problems in the real world is the key for long-term success. Session replays or heat maps are crucial for analyzing how users are interacting with the application.

These are powerful tools for any UX or UI designer to assess which parts of the app should be modified.

The Benefits of Creating User Personas

Using personas in mobile app development has many benefits:

Allows designers to empathize with the product’s target audience

The empathizing process for a UX designer means observing and engaging with people that will use the product. Personas help designers in understanding the end users at a deeper level.

The market is full of applications that are visually appealing but meaningless nonetheless to the end users.

Personas can help in determining the right balance between aesthetics and value, both of which are essential for attracting and retaining users.

Helps designers in avoiding the the false consensus effect and self-referential design

Sometimes designers may  think that other people share their beliefs and that their response to a situation will be the same. These generalizations or stereotypes can lead to creating a design that is sub-optimal.

The user personas can help the product team in getting to know  the actual needs and expectations of the app users and also in creating a product that can solve users’ real problems.

Helps designers in making decisions

Personas can also help designers in creating a product strategy. They can assess who will use their product and why.

Personas can present them with a user-centered point of view which can make it easier to prioritize feature requests based on how well they address the needs of a primary persona.

The product team can make decisions based on facts and needs instead of their own thoughts and whims.

Takeaway

User personas are powerful tools. If done correctly, they can make the design process less complex as they guide the ideation processes and help designers in creating a good UX for the target users.

However, they must be based on user-research conducted accurately to get a clear idea of the users’ requirements and the context of use.

Thanks to personas, designers can work in a more meaningful way by keeping the real users at the heart of the app design.


app trap

4 Questions to Avoid Falling Into the 'App Trap'

Businesses and brands are trying to ‘appify’ and digitise their services and products in order to differentiate their offering from competitors.

A number of these companies are falling into the ‘app trap’, developing applications for the sake of it and not considering what their users and customers actually want.

If you find yourself at a crossroads as to whether or not you should digitise your product or service, make sure you ask yourself the following four questions to avoid the ‘app trap’.

4 Questions To Avoid The App Trap

Why are we doing this?

Many organisations want to be seen as the leader in their industry and believe digitising their service or product is the answer.

In some scenarios, this is the case but it shouldn’t be seen as a one-size-fits-all approach. There needs to be more substance than being the first in your industry to make something into an app.

It’s crucial that you know what your business goal is in delivering this solution and surveying customers is a great place to start.

Will data be important?

Companies soon realise the data collected from an app can be extremely valuable. However, this data can often be ignored and not utilised the way it should be.

Having data doesn’t create value on its own, you have to do something with it and improve your offering using the data you collect.

Will it have the staying power?

It’s important to consider your app’s staying power and analyse whether it’s going to be seen as a necessity as opposed to a novelty.

Is it simplifying a task and how long will it be before an even better solution is developed? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself to ensure your app is used for a significant period of time.

Has it been done before?

Staying ahead of your competition is key to success, so don’t just copy your competitors’ solutions. This will only show your customers that you’re playing catch up.

Before launch, you should ask yourself what other improvements or offerings you can offer that show you’re one step ahead, instead of two steps behind the competition.


worst app ideas

6 Worst App Ideas We've Ever Heard

Top Tip – Sign an NDA before pitching your app idea to us. It stands for Non-Disgracing Agreement as well as Non-Disclosure Agreement

It’s a quiet day here at Appify so I thought I’d amuse myself by having a wander around the office and having a chat with everyone about the worst app ideas we’ve all heard. Working for a leading development agency means everyone always wants to tell you their million dollar idea, unfortunately, most of them are Pokemon-No rather than Pokemon-Go.

So we collected for you the worst app ideas we’ve ever heard.

The 6 Worst App Ideas

1. The app idea that's already been done - "I want to make iCloud but for Android"

Up at number one is my personal favourite category which is when people put forward ideas that have already been done. The best example of this is the gentleman who told us he wanted to made iCloud but for Google devices to which our consultant replied “What? Like Google Drive”.

iCloud alternatives

2. The technically impossible - "Well, can't Facebook give us the data?"

The other most common category is the apps which haven’t been done because they can’t be done. One gentleman asked if we could make an app that would notify users when other people screenshotted their facebook feed. He got quite upset when I informed him that A. Facebook don’t collect this data and B. even if they did, they wouldn’t make it available to other people!

Facebook data

3. The niche that doesn't exist - Mosqgo

As the app market matures there is genuine opportunity to be found by taking large, mass market ideas that are successful and optimising them for niches. However, taking Tripadvisor and specialising it for rating mosques certainly isn’t one of them.

Mosqgo

4. The niche that does exist but shouldn't - Doggr

On the other end of the scale is the spotting of a niche that does exist but no self respecting company would want to be involved with. Doggr was put forward as Grindr but for people who like dogging… suggested features included:

  • Top local dogging spots
  • Virtual bowls of car keys
  • Making the phone camera flash extra bright incase your headlights aren’t working

Doggr

5. The scam - Find-a-plumber

This was a work of genius whilst simultaneously being utterly ridiculous. One plumber approached us with an idea for making an app that helped you find a local plumber, so far so good. However, the twist was that no matter what the customer searched for he would be the number #1…

find a plumber

6. The plain ridiculous - Ipoo, "the Monopoly board of toilets"

The final suggestion here is probably my favourite as it’s so ridiculous I reckon it just might work. The concept was similar to Monopoly but all the squares on the board were actual public toilets in the UK. You played interactively with friends and claimed property on the board by visiting the public convenience and *ahem* relieving one’s self… genius.


mobile app agency

5 Questions Before Developing a Mobile App

Both large enterprises and small businesses are recognising the need for a mobile app. Applications are now being incorporated within business strategies, making their companies far more accessible to their consumers.

However, there are a number of tough questions that must be answered prior to a business developing and deploying a mobile app. Here are five things you should ask yourself before getting started…

1. Do we have a long-term strategy?

There is a growing demand for companies to differentiate through engaging with their clients on a number of different platforms. This is causing businesses to contemplate an app development program to extend its reach to current and potential customers.

The first thing you must consider is whether your business is ready to invest the time, money and energy needed to develop a long-term mobile strategy and application.

Before developing any application, you must consider not only the initial costs, but what it will take to maintain it over time. Strategic app planning can be the difference between a successful app and a single-release failure.

2. Is there a market for our mobile app?

If you’re building an app which will be deployed in a market that already exists, then it can be seen as a positive. You may face strong competition, however, it means you’ve got idea validation taken care of already.

The next step would be ensuring your app stands out, giving users a reason to download it instead of your competitors’ apps.

If you’re on the other side of the coin and are developing a mobile app in uncharted territory, you may have a tough time validating the need for the product.

It doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t a need for the app, but it will take more time to build out use cases and identify your buyer persona.

3. What do our users want?

The most successful mobile apps are those that are very focused on helping users solve a specific problem they face. Your app should be no different. Ask yourself what kinds of problems you want to solve for your users and build your app to solve that problem.

Many mobile apps have failed because they have attempted to do too many things. A good user experience (UX) process will help you identify the core needs of your mobile app and make certain that those needs are addressed when the app is built.

4. Which device should we develop for?

According to Ericsson Mobility Report, in 2016 there were over 2.6 billion smartphone users worldwide and in addition, global tablet ownership would reach 905 million by 2017.

Deciding which device to develop for completely depends on your business and your users. It’s key to find out which platform they typically use. If the majority of your customers access goods via Android devices, then you should certainly focus much of your attention on this particular platform.

However, recent data shows that Apple users are more likely to spend more than Android users. Tablet use also boasts more revenue than smartphones, which is something else you must take into consideration.

5. Ho will we monetise the mobile app?

Less than one percent of apps are profitable on the app store. Which means, 99 percent of apps are just not making enough money for their founders.

If it’s an enterprise application, solving internal problems and improving employee productivity, then there is still a money angle and a Return on Investment business case.

If it’s designed to increase revenue for the business, how is it going to do that? You must look at all angles, from in-app purchases to a subscription model.

Will there be in app advertising to monetise traffic through the app? Knowing this and building the app around the business goal will keep the client focused.


four steps brilliant business case mobile application

Business Case For Your Mobile Application

We have now moved well beyond mass adoption of mobile technology. If your organisation still hasn’t developed a robust and scalable mobile strategy, you are certainly going to suffer in the long term.

Building a business case for your mobile application is an essential part of the overall development project.

A recent report by IBM found that 73% of enterprises have seen measurable ROI from mobility initiatives, with mobile-first workers seeing over 40% increases in productivity.

Winning budget isn’t always a straight forward process when it comes to the development of a mobile app; obstacles must be overcome.

For both consumer and enterprise applications, building a detailed business case is pivotal in regards to getting project sign off. A mobile solution needs to be developed to last, with iterations being introduced over time.

So how do businesses and brands go about building a brilliant business case for a mobile app?

4 Steps to Build a Business Case For Your Mobile Application

1. Build a prototype

You must develop a mobile application with the end user in mind. Building a prototype is relatively cheap and quick to do and will enable the user to give invaluable feedback.

This feedback can then be used to support development projects and help gather the evidence you need to get project sign off.

Creating a prototype of your mobile app will allow your organisation to better refine the scope of the project and then identify what data needs to be included in the app for it to serve its purpose.

2. Do your market research

Market research is vital, with statistics and proven facts reinforcing the business case for mobile. In addition, examining how other organisations have deployed mobile and what impacts it has had on them could be key for your project sign off.

A big driver will be the success competitors have seen as a result of mobile. Your company won’t want to get left behind and this market research could see your budget holders finally take action.

3. MVP approach

Starting with an MVP forces you to define your value proposition clearly, concretely and (somewhat) narrowly. You are forced to examine the breadth and depth of your vision and to define exactly what value you want to provide to your workforce or customers.

By creating an MVP, targets can be set and you will be able to decide exactly what needs to be developed to test your value proposition, and spend your time and money effectively and efficiently.

Taking this approach will help to split budget up. Not all features need to be there from the outset, but added in an iterative fashion as they are perceived to drive value over time.

4. Measuring KPIs

Sometimes it’s better to talk about the benefits of a developing a mobile app as opposed to actually building it. A mobile application will help deliver KPIs, and focusing on the ROI will help you get project sign off.

The will give your company the agility required to change and will also help you clearly show the budget holders what value the mobile solution will add to your business.


4 must-haves for your mobile app development

4 Must-Haves For Your Mobile App Development

The demand for mobile app development from both customers and employees continues to grow. Despite the fact that mobile has become high priority for organisations worldwide, many are still under-prepared for a successful mobile app development project.

Designing, developing and implementing a robust and scalable mobile application requires fundamental skills and strategic steps. We’ve listed four must-haves when it comes to launching your own application.

4 Must-Haves For Your Mobile App Development

Designing a compelling UX

It’s essential that your mobile application is simple and easy to use, combined with a compelling UX (User Experience). Features needn’t be compromised in order to make this happen.

UX and UI designers need to work alongside app developers in order to make the application a success. It’s important to consider who the app is for and what it’s being developed to achieve.

Develop for different devices

Smartphone and tablet devices are critical, however, more opportunities are arising when it comes to developing application for an array of devices. Wearables and IoT (Internet of Things) are increasing in popularity and a different approach for each device will be required.

It’s of high priority that your development and design team have the skills to develop apps for all type of mobile devices.

Starting with a MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

Starting with an MVP forces you to define your value proposition clearly, concretely and (somewhat) narrowly. You are forced to examine the breadth and depth of your vision and to define exactly what value you want to provide to your workforce or customers.

By creating an MVP, targets can be set and you will be able to decide exactly what needs to be developed to test your value proposition, and spend your time and money effectively and efficiently.

Continuous updates

Applications are never complete. Constant and continual iterations are vital in making the application a success. Updates are necessary due to the constant evolving landscape of mobile technology and user demands.

Mobile is pushing organisations to new territory and it’s important that an agile approach is taken in order to keep up with new and emerging technologies.


mobile roadmap

How To Develop a Mobile Roadmap?

You cannot afford to look at your mobile initiatives in a narrow-minded manner anymore. In recent years there has been a dramatic shift, with more organisations seeking a comprehensive strategy and a more robust and scalable mobile roadmap.

6 Things Your Business Must Do When Developing a Mobile Roadmap

Establish what role mobile will play

Planning out a good set of objectives and identifying the role mobile could play for your organisation is a great place to start. These objectives must align with your overall business objectives and will ensure your mobile initiatives are successful moving forwards.

Identify what and who will be impacted

Developing a robust and scalable mobile roadmap means identifying what parts of the business are going to be effected by these initiatives and who in particular it will have an impact on. Make sure you leave no stones unturned and establish whether your initiatives are employee-facing or customer-facing.

Involve stakeholders from across the business

Good ideas can come from anywhere within your organisation, which is why involving stakeholders from across the business is essential. It’s a good idea to put this into practice right from the discovery stage as it will increase the chances of company-wide adoption.

Consider your customers

If you’re developing a mobile app for your customers, develop a mobile roadmap for them, not yourself. Too many initiatives fail because organisations don’t listen to what their customers want and are completely left out of the process.

Once again, including customers in the process from the discovery stage will ensure adoption rates are increased.

Be innovative

Truly innovative and transformative initiatives are there to be developed. Benchmarking against your competitors and the industry you’re in is important, however, a lot can be learned from sectors outside of your own.

Keep an eye on emerging technologies and see what other industries are doing in terms of mobile initiatives, this will enable your organisation to be truly innovative.

Prioritise mobile opportunities

You can’t do everything at once, it simply won’t work. This is why prioritising your mobile opportunities is essential when developing a roadmap.

Think about which opportunities will add more value to the business or will aid your customers. This will enable you to provide a set of actionable mobile initiatives to be incorporated into a long-term roadmap.


Agile Mobile App Development

Agile For Mobile App Development

When developing mobile apps, speed and agility are critical. As the world continues to shift from desktop to mobile, agile is finally coming of age. So why is agile perfect for mobile app development?

An agile approach enables enterprises to build quality into every individual increment of a mobile app. Enterprise mobility is growing at an exponential rate, therefore businesses must be able to move fast with projects whilst enhancing quality, efficiency and speed to market.

Mobile app development is unpredictable and fast-changing, with project demands at an all-time high. Launching a mobile application certainly isn’t easy, so it’s essential your app is pushed to the market as quickly as possible.

Once the application has been launched, you’re then able to think about incrementally developing the User Experience (UX) based on user feedback.

Agile practices need to be implemented and developing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is recommended. This will allow you to make necessary iterations to the application when required.

Optimising a mobile app’s lifespan is a huge obstacle when it comes to app development. Mobile app infrastructure and hardware continue to evolve rapidly, meaning the average app has a lifespan of roughly 12 months.

Agile development provides a framework that will maximise the lifecycle of an application, enabling mobile projects to adapt to change.

There’s a lot more to mobilising your enterprise than running your app on a variety of devices. Whilst the time it takes to develop and launch an application will become shorter, you’ll want to ensure you can launch many more apps following the initial release of the first app.

Appify follows an agile approach. This enables you to launch apps quickly by first developing a MVP which acts as a platform on which future iterations can be built.

By launching a mobile app, you’re introducing new tools, applications and security concerns within your infrastructure. The way in which your business runs, engages with employees and shares information could change completely.


business case mobile app

Business Case For a Mobile App

There’s no doubting the fact that Enterprise Mobility is becoming one of the most exciting opportunities within the workplace. Organisations are actively searching for ways to improve business processes through the deployment of mobile enterprise applications.

That’s why it’s essential for businesses to develop a strong business case, and here’s how you do exactly that…

Creating an actionable enterprise app strategy is one thing but developing an effective business case is another. The global enterprise mobility market is showing no signs of slowing down and is expected to be worth as much as $140 billion by 2020.

And whilst it’s tempting to jump straight into the development of an enterprise application, it’s important businesses take time to define a proper business case to prioritise projects and measure success.

It can be a challenge to determine the ROI for enterprise applications. Cost savings from mobile projects are associated with process transformations, making them difficult to assess, especially because the majority of organisations haven’t baselined time and effort required by these processes.

Creating a strong business case can be broken down into 3 small pieces:

  • Calculating Benefits, Cost Savings and Revenue
  • Development Costs
  • Operational Costs

Calculating Benefits, Cost Savings and Revenue

The deployment of an enterprise application can increase business efficiency immensely. Mobile devices have the power to replace more expensive equipment and tons of paper-based procedures.

Cutting internal communication costs is another capability mobile technology can see to, leading to more sales, calls, emails and CRM updates.

Mobilising a business can have a long-term impact and has the potential to increase traditional sales and field force metrics. Prior to the deployment of an enterprise app, your employees will have been spending valuable time amending data entry errors, filing new content and destroying old paper copies.

Regularly measuring the ROI of your mobile strategy will ensure that your app is helping to improve your workplace, rather than spending money without any thought to strategy.

Measuring the ROI of your mobile app isn’t visibly defined. Firstly, you need to come up with measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that marry up with your company’s goals and strategy. Determine the goals of your application and whatever they are, your KPIs should directly reflect them.

Once you’ve clearly defined your company’s goals, strategy and developed measurable KPIs, you can begin to calculate the ROI of your enterprise app. Make sure you weigh your KPIs against the development costs and operational costs (see below).

Once you begin doing this, it will become easier to see a tangible ROI number that you can weigh against the value of your mobile strategy.

Development Costs

It’s important to calculate how much the app development will cost per platform and to consult with development specialists to minimise the overall risk of the project.

Technology is moving at a rapid rate, so you need to ensure your teams have the best and most up-to-date recommendations from a team who live and breathe mobile.

Testing is a procedure often overlooked during development projects but the reality is, the complexity of it needs to be taken seriously. Users won’t accept apps that don’t work properly and adoption rates will be severely damaged if each platform isn’t tested by specialists with testing capabilities.

Finding out the cost of integrating with your existing IT systems is a priority. The lack of suitable integration points is one of the most common issues encountered in mobile app development.

Make sure you allow sufficient time and budget to consult with mobile API specialists during the early stages of development.

Operational Costs

Deploying an enterprise app can have an impact on your organisation’s infrastructure. It’s important to consider whether the added number of devices will have an effect on the usage of corporate Wi-Fi.

You’ll need to consider the costs of upgrading bandwidth and whether it’s time to invest in a mobile device management (MDM) partner.

There’s the possibility of implementing training courses on new systems for internal support staff. What is the cost/time associated to on boarding training with new users?

ROI metrics aren’t straight forward in regards to mobile app development. Follow this model and work with the business and end users to uncover other business processes that could be mobilised and thus improved.

Coming up with measurable KPIs will ensure you see a palpable ROI of your enterprise application. This will also enable you to make strategic improvements later on when updating or making any amendments to your app.


mobile app development team

Internal vs External Development Team

Let’s begin with a simple question. What’s best for your business?

A) Choosing an external agency for your app development project

B) Utilising your own development team

As one of the leading enterprise app development companies in Ireland, we’re accustomed to working alongside companies that already have large internal development teams.

Many of the companies that Appify works with consider using their own internal teams to develop applications but it isn’t as simple as that. Outsourcing development is certainly an option worth considering.

Internal IT and Development teams are becoming a necessity for large enterprises. Developing mobile apps internally has the ability to save an organisation money in the long-term and give the business complete control over development projects.

However, partnering with another development company can have its own rewards. Large organisations are working with external developers to better understand new and innovative technologies, similar to what Appify offers. It’s also useful to share learnings from wide industry experience.

For urgent development projects, working with an external development agency can be extremely beneficial and will speed up delivery times. In many cases, internal development teams may not have the right skill set to develop certain applications and will therefore need an external agency to assist.

A barrier internal teams often face is the particular skill set required for developments. Organisations need developers with the skills and experience in mobile language, whether it being HTML5, Java, Objective-C, C# or C++.

Without this experience, internal teams will find it very difficult to develop applications for iOS and Android devices.

Developing mobile applications requires vast experience in order to create something which is easy to use and improve a process or procedure across an organisation.

External development companies not only help develop the app, they help fill in any other gaps, including strategy consulting and support.

Appify provides mobile consulting for enterprises, helping businesses plan effective mobile roadmaps and being thought leaders when it comes to new innovative technologies.

Working with organisations’ internal development teams has become key to successfully developing applications in the enterprise.

The key is finding a mobile partner who can plug the gaps in the internal resource. This could be a full service solution delivery or it could be smaller individual elements. For example, strategic support, UX Design Support, or specialist development skills (among others).

I’d like to take you back to my original question. What’s best for your business? We have a vast number of clients who asked themselves that same question and choosing to work with an expert external app development company like Appify has produced great results.