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3 things entrepreneurs need to know about apps

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Apple’s App Store generates more than $10 billion in revenue for developers every year, and thanks to the proliferation of apps in business and among consumers, the market is still expanding. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that budding entrepreneurs, including women, are still piling into the app space, trying to nab a piece of the pie.

But what exactly does effective app development look like? And what should entrepreneurs entering the space be doing?

1. Remember there’s no such thing as a bug-free app

Can people write code for applications that is bug-free? Of course not, and anybody who says that they can is living in a dream world. Although technically it is possible to write error-free code, given the fallibility of the “wetware” inside our skull, it’s highly unlikely.

Even if the software itself is internally consistent, there’s a good chance that it won’t work across all intended platforms. Apple Macs have different compatibility issues to Samsung tablets. The best way to mitigate the problem is to use something like the test management tool from QASymphony. Consumers don’t expect a perfect app, but they do want something that is usable and not prone to constant crashing.

2. Time to value is key

Time to value is an expression that is finding increasing currency in app development circles. Essentially, it’s the time it takes for the user of your app to have that “aha” moment when they realize the value your app is offering. Your goal, therefore, should be to do as much as you can to make sure that your development goes in a direction that helps make the purpose of the app as clear as possible.

Some apps, especially B2B apps, have a significant onboarding process – this is to be expected. But you want that process to be in the region of hours, rather than days, otherwise, companies will find it hard to make use of your product.

3. Better features doesn’t necessarily imply success

Recently, John Gourville, a professor at Harvard Business School, said that the majority of small-time app entrepreneurs fail because they overvalue their innovation, relative to the competition. They think that if they have an app with all the bells and whistles and their competitor’s doesn’t that they will steal market share and become market leaders. Gourville says that it doesn’t work like this in the real world because customers don’t value their innovation as much as entrepreneurs do. People like apps that are either novel or familiar, meaning that breaking into an existing niche is tough.

He says that if new apps are going to stand a chance, they need to be an order of magnitude better than what is already out there. Customers have to be convinced that the benefits of the new app are so overwhelming that it is worth their time making the switch.

Snapchat is an example of an app that managed to do. Essentially, it is just a chatting app. But people wanted to be able to chat in private without their messaging apps recording everything that they said. Snapchat finally made this possible, causing the switch.

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