Finally finishing development of your first mobile app is an exhilarating feeling. And it’s one that quickly fades when that app is rejected from Apple’s App Store.
Thousands of iOS developers endure this emotional roller coaster every week. But acceptance isn’t the end of the road. A whopping 59 percent of apps generate so little revenue that they don’t even recoup development costs.
Beyond painful rejections and inadequate monetization, poor development practices can also hurt users and cause PR nightmares. Just ask the developers of EnergyRescue. In January, the battery-saving app was booted from Google’s Play Store after a security vendor discovered it had been embedded with ransomware because of a development oversight.
App Developers Beware
Sometimes, bad things happen to good apps. But for the most part, a little foresight can prevent app snags like store rejections, poor sales, and sneaky malware.
During development and design, be sure to avoid the following errors:
1. Submitting the night before your desired launch date.
When it comes to Apple’s infamous review process, you never know what surprises are in store. Don’t wait until right before launch to seek App Store approval. Delays happen, but they don’t impress potential users or investors.
Especially if you have launch-day press or activities planned, you’ll want to apply weeks in advance. Applications have been rejected by Apple and then resubmitted with the same code, only to be approved the second time around. Remember, too, that Apple revises its review process for phone debuts, iOS updates, or legal changes, so you never know quite how your application is evaluated.
2. Skipping the beta.
One of the most important steps in mobile development is the beta test. Don’t skip it. A large, well-run beta provides invaluable UX feedback and quality assurance testing.
Your beta test can also fuel product hype. The developers of Tempo, a calendar app, spent about nine months testing before they launched — even releasing a Canadian version of the app in advance under a fake name. Their reward? Tons of media attention and an eventual acquisition by Salesforce.
Plenty of apps fail because their developers make incorrect assumptions about what people want and need. Don’t operate on assumptions.
3. Testing exclusively on emulators.
Don’t get me wrong: Emulators are indispensable developer tools. They allow you run your application in a simulated environment, testing it for bugs without buying 20 phones. They shouldn’t, however, entirely replace device testing.
Recently, Yeti built an excuse generator app called “Gotta Go!” as part of Chelsea Handler’s Netflix documentary series. We envisioned an app that could send real calls and text messages to your phone, springing you from any social snafu imaginable. Because the app’s core functionality involved phone calls and test messaging, we had to ditch the emulators for much of the development process, which led to some valuable lessons.
Emulators can be great during development, but there’s a time for real-world testing, too.
4. Supporting all the things.
At some point, you’re going to have to decide which devices and operating systems you’d like to support. If you want your project completed on time and within budget, be choosy.
Especially if you’re developing on Android, don’t try to keep up with all the OEM updates and hardware releases. Within the Android market, phone form factors vary greatly, and not all manufacturers update their devices regularly. Your best bet is to check the Android market share website and try to pick what to support on the basis of hard data. In general, support everything made within the past year, and think carefully before building for phones older than four or five years.
5. Assigning just one developer.
Just as no rock star can play a symphony, no single developer can build a robust mobile app. Your development team needs both iOS and Android experience, back-end know-how, and the skills to create a compelling, intuitive interface.
At Yeti, we rely on multidisciplinary teams, which we tailor to the requirements of each project. Particularly when working on big projects with tight deadlines, our designers willingly jump in to give the developers a hand. Not only does it help get projects done more quickly, but it also gives the teams a chance to develop new skills.
If you stumble into any one — or all — of those blunders, don’t despair. Every seasoned developer has experienced setbacks. It doesn’t mean your app is doomed to fail; it just means you’re learning.
Looking for more app development insights? Check out our free Mobile App Design and Development Guide. It’s no substitute for experience, but it can help you sustain fewer bruises along the way.