From the idea to your own app – the launch
Was beim Launch, der Vermarktung und dem Betrieb einer App berücksichtigt werden sollte.
How can I test my own app automatically or with beta tests and then bring it to the app store? We show how to do that.
In the previous two articles, I discussed what should be taken into account during the idea, the conception and the implementation on the way to your own app. But how does the finished app get into the app stores and what other points need to be considered during the launch? How should the app be marketed and what is important during operation? I will address these and other questions in the third and final part of this series.
Test, test, test
The app is ready, but before it is offered for download in the app stores, it should be put through its paces again in an extensive test phase. After all, who wants the app to fail the first users because of obvious errors?
In this phase, it becomes clear how important testing by the development partner is. This is because the development partner can already run important tests on simulated devices in the developer tool. Make sure that the development partner includes this in their offer; experience shows that about 10 to 20 percent of the project costs should be included in the calculation for serious testing. In addition, testing should be carried out on as many different physical devices as possible and also on older operating system versions. A “testing wall”, where the app is loaded onto different devices and subjected to automatic tests, can be a sensible solution for this.
Beta testing as a milestone
In addition to the automated tests, extensive manual testing should also be carried out. This can be done directly in the project team or the development partner provides so-called testers for this purpose. Ideally, a group of potential end users is also invited to test the app as part of a beta test. The feedback received from these test users should be taken seriously and incorporated if necessary and useful. For semi-public beta tests, both Apple (via Apple-Testflight) and Google (alpha and beta testing via Google Play) offer suitable options.
Launch of the app
How does the app get to the users?
After the beta version has been extensively tested and the necessary corrections have been made, the app should finally reach the end users. The best-known distribution channels are the Apple and Google Play app stores.
- Apple App Store
A paid Apple Developer Account is required for submission, which is then done via iTunes Connect. Sufficient time should be allowed for the initial creation of the account (approx. 2 weeks) as Apple checks and processes each registration manually. Time should also be allowed for the submission of the app (approx. 2-7 days). The approval time varies depending on the workload of Apple’s review department. The website appreviewtimes.com offers a prediction.
A paid developer account is also required for submission. Opening this account is done very quickly. The submission is made via the Developer Console. The apps are checked automatically and approved within 1-2 hours.
Distribution of in-house apps
For in-house apps or apps that are only to be made available to a limited group of users, there is also a way to go beyond the official stores. Apps can be made available to a limited user group via an in-house store. Check whether the implementation partner offers this option for the distribution of the app. If your company already has an MDM (mobile device management system), the app can also be loaded onto the devices via this. An MDM offers certain advantages in terms of security, but is time-consuming to install. If such a system is not already in use, it is usually not worthwhile to introduce it for the distribution of only one app.
Announcement of the app
At the latest when the app is released in the app stores, the potential users should learn about it. An informative landing page that links to the app stores can be found via the search engines with targeted SEO measures. In general, a well thought-out marketing strategy, which at best was already set up in the conception phase, is the important basis. Classic media formats in digital (e.g. advertising banners) or analogue form (e.g. newspaper advertisement), but also owned media channels such as the company’s own website, Facebook/Twitter/Youtube profiles, the company’s own blog or newsletter etc. should be used. With balanced media planning, the different media can be meaningfully coordinated and ideally, of course, complemented with good (online) PR. Cooperations with bloggers, journalists or magazines can also be helpful, for example by publishing a test report or a product presentation of the app with a relatively large reach.
Why do we need OSA?
There are millions of apps in the app stores, so your own app has to stand up to a lot of competition. First and foremost, the app should be found as easily as possible by potential users. Measures should therefore be taken to increase the findability of the app in the app stores. These are summarised under the term “App Store Optimisation” (ASO) and include various points such as app icon, name, description, keywords, etc. but also reviews and comments. The (invisible) app rank is most strongly influenced by the number of downloads of the app. The goal of every app marketing measure is therefore to achieve downloads.
Maintenance and operation of the app
Once the app has been successfully marketed and a user base has been built up, it is important to maintain the app and develop it further in a meaningful way. Reviews and comments in the app stores provide direct feedback from users: errors are reported there, but suggestions for enhancements are also made. These need to be analysed and, if necessary, the app expanded accordingly. Both platforms also offer the possibility to respond to user comments. Especially in the case of negative comments, this option should be used.
If reporting tools are used, it is possible to find out which contents are popular with users and are used intensively, and where there is still room for improvement. Such tools (e.g. Firebase) can also be used to monitor crashes; if these occur more frequently, the problem must be investigated in more detail before it can have a negative impact on user experience.
Make (operating system) updates
In order to maintain the ranking in the App Stores and to be able to attract new users, regular updates are necessary. Operating system updates from Apple and Android are also important. In the case of major updates (whole numbers, e.g. 11.0.0 for iOS or 8.0.0 for Android), the app should be checked for runability and any errors before the official release with the beta version of the operating system. With regard to backwards compatibility, the current version and the last (or even penultimate) version are usually supported.
On the way from the idea to your own app, there are many decisions to be made and questions to be clarified. Creating an app should therefore not be underestimated. However, if you proceed step by step and deal with the most important questions, you will quickly come closer to the goal of successfully launching your own app. We wish you much success and fun with the planning of your own app!
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