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10 Biggest Challenges Faced by Mobile App Developers

Randy RayessRandy Rayess

If you are planning to develop an app, your focus should be more on ‘what not to do’ than on ‘what to do’. There are several challenges faced by developers every time they start working on a new mobile app.

 In this post, we highlight the 10 biggest challenges and how you can overcome them.

1. Creating Apps which Get Noticed: There’s immense competition in the mobile app market  and honestly, it’s very crowded. Thus, there’s a constant pressure to create apps which get noticed. After all, you don’t want to get lost.

Solution: Create an app which looks great. Include graphics, usable features, and intuitive design. Aim at providing a wholesome experience. Take cues from successful apps in your niche to understand what clicks with users. Answer the following questions, and you’ll know if your idea can crack into this competitive market.

Remember – make an app which makes life simple, productive and pleasant.

2. Getting the App Funded: Now that you have a killer app idea, how do you get it funded? Depending on the nature of the app, the cost of development can be anywhere from $3,000 to $150,000. How do you get the money?

Solution: Before you meet the right investors, there are several ways you can raise funds. Approach your social circle, apply for loans, ask friends and relatives and look for joint venture companies which invest in such apps. You may also try crowdfunding – platforms like Kickstarter and AppBackr are great starting points. App contests can also be the way to go if you have a winning idea in mind.

3. Dealing with the Screen Real Estate: Users have many different devices with different screen sizes. And designing only for the latest platform is a big no-no. So the challenge is to create an app which can run across as many devices as possible. Countless mobile platforms have different limitations based on screen sizes, OS requirements, embedded technologies, pixel intensities etc. However, it’s not only about the devices. You need to consider the OS as well. iOS, Android and Windows – each of these three main systems has its own UI objects and patterns. So be prepared for some bug fixing every now and then.

Solution: Responsive Design. It gives screens more liquidity and thus can be adjusted to suit different formats and various screen sizes. Facebook is a great example.
To deal with technical OS issues, having a marked testing phase helps. Releasing a beta version of the app is also recommended.

Responsive Design

Source: Borculo Web Design

4. Making the App Interactive: Interactions are just as important as responsive design. Mobile devices today are laden with high-tech sensors, thus offering a plethora of opportunities. So make the most of these sensors! Creating interactions, however, is time-consuming and can be a challenge to deal with during the design phase.

Solution: Consider interactions well in advance to save time during the design phase. And aim for a comprehensive app experience. Don’t restrict yourself to tap and swipe gestures. Use buttons with various click options and consider overlays to display additional information. Bring more tangible interactions like titling, shaking and flipping into play, which allow the app to respond to position, direction and environment of the device and trigger some action.

5. Keeping it Simple and Clear: An app that makes users think isn’t a good app. The challenge is to design an application which is self-explanatory. But keep in mind that if the functioning of the app is clear to you (the developer), it isn’t necessarily clear to the users as well.

Solution: The trick is to use a simple and clear structure and give brief instructions, tutorials etc. explaining what needs to be done and how. You may use thumbnails and icons to display information in a compact manner. However, make sure these icons correspond to the native UI elements of each OS. You can refer to the UI guidelines provided by platforms like Android, Apple iOS and Windows to chose UI patterns users are already acquainted with.

6. It’s Performance vs Battery Life: Besides, design and interaction, app performance and battery consumption are also important aspects of mobile app development. The challenge is to design a well-performing, bug-free app which runs on minimum possible battery. Performance, however, is solely considered to be a development feature and hence dealt with late during the design phase. Plus, different users perceive app performance differently. And then there are the devices. The app might function well on the latest device, but a lot of users are still running on older devices. Too many images or visual effects, flooding the cache, or using integrated sensors may disrupt the performance of your application on older versions.

Solution: Make sure the development team is a part of the prototyping efforts. Besides, set up a beta version to run test cases with test users to avoid any performance trouble in the final version.

7. Mobile Content Management: The need for mobile app content is ever growing. The call of the hour is to include rich content – videos, images, animations etc. However, the performance fails of wireless networks and frequent connection drops make it difficult to deliver reliable yet rich content that consumes a lot of bandwidth. Besides, app stores like Google Play require you to bundle all your rich content into monolithic expansion files. This means whenever you want to update your content, you need to release a new version of the app.

Solution: Mobile content management solutions. There are various systems in the market which aim at simplifying content management for mobiles. They help in optimizing bandwidth usage and delivering content reliably. Alfresco, MobileIron and AirWatch are some examples.

Mobile Content Management

Source: Alfresco

8. Connecting with the user: The mobile app market is changing rapidly. Innovation and creativity have made this ecosystem highly active. Thus connecting with the users is crucial. And no, it is not just about the features you include in the app.

Solution: Make a positive first impression. This is essential to all relationships. The key is to make your users feel comfortable. Think beyond user-friendly design and interactive features. Give them a recognizable design, colors and logos etched in their memories, or typical fonts. You may even look at your competitor’s app – not to copy the design or flow, but to see what users find interesting and create something unique on the same lines. Besides, it is important to be there for the users always. Listen to their feedback, pay attention to the smallest issues, thank the ones who find them, and provide immediate help. This is the key to winning happy and loyal users.

9. Promoting and Marketing the App: It’s a cliche that most developers don’t care about marketing their apps. However, it’s not true. There are several challenges which developers face while taking their apps to the market. The bottleneck competition, tight timelines and lack of right platforms push developers into keeping app marketing on the back burner.

Solution: A successful app is about 90% marketing and 10% development. So look for the right tools and platforms which can simplify marketing for you. AppTamin, AppScend , MobileDevHQ, and Smore are some tools you must check out. Besides, you can take help from professionals, some who has the required experience and expertise in marketing mobile apps.

10. Lack of Transparency by App Stores: How your app will fare depends partially on the app store you are submitting it to. However, app stores aren’t 100% transparent. There is no way of knowing the market size for different categories or which category is trending globally. In other words, is there a market for the app you are developing? If yes, where is it? Without knowing such basic facts you can only depend on your gut instincts to market the app.

Solution: The only way out is to research. Go through the reports released by various app stores. Based on the data you can get an estimate of where and why your app is most likely to sell.

This post is inspired by a Quora discussion. Are there any challenges you’ve faced while developing a mobile app? Feel free to add to the above list in the comments section below.

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CoFounder at VenturePact Passionate about software, marketplace startups & remote work. Previously at SilverLake Partners, Ampush and Wharton.