How to create a successful app for your business

You see apps all the time, as practically every national chain has created one. But did you ever consider creating a custom app for your small business?

Don't make common mistakes when designing your custom app.

Lorain County businesses can build custom apps, too.

It doesn’t matter where you are located -- Avon, Avon Lake, Elyria, Lorain, Grafton -- you can have an app for your business that can help connect you with customers and increase sales. But this is where the word of warning comes in: Make sure your app has a clear purpose.

The digital landscape is littered with apps that don’t function very well. For every awesome app, there’s one that’s a complete failure, and users have no problem voicing their negative opinion about an app on a public forum or in a review. The last thing you want is to spend money developing an app that represents your business, only to see it poorly reviewed and not used the way you hoped.

Here are four things to avoid when creating a custom app.

The app tries to do too many things

Apps are simple software programs, and most of them are used on the smaller screen of a mobile phone. Make sure your app does one thing and does it really well. Once you master the main focus, then you can add functionality for other areas.

If you aren’t sure what the one key function would be, then maybe your business isn’t a good candidate for a custom app. For a restaurant, a key function might be ordering online, even if it’s not your full menu. Ask yourself, what is the one thing that people are always contacting you about? Then see if there’s a way to create an app that connects customers to what it is they want.

The app ignores how its audience operates

For an app to be effective, it has to connect with its customers in the way they want to interact with it. Don’t design the app’s functionality to operate the way you would use it -- design it with your customers in mind. Create a small focus group to help guide you, even if you have to pay them. The money spent up front to create a customer-friendly app is much better than creating something that no one uses because they don’t like how it functions.

The app hasn’t been thoroughly tested

Great intentions don’t mean anything in the world of apps. Remember, this little piece of software represents your business and your brand. Make sure it works as flawlessly as the rest of your operation. A focused design that resonates with customers will be wasted if it doesn’t work properly and is full of bugs.

The app doesn’t look professional

The final product should have a nice icon that represents your business, and all the little detail-oriented things inside it should look like it was professionally designed and not just thrown together. Design goes a long way in determining how the quality of something is perceived, so make sure your app looks good from the icon to each interior screen.

Apps are a great way to build a stronger relationship with your customers, but only when they are done right. Avoid common missteps to increase the odds of a successful app launch and adoption rate.

Matt Beargie is the web developer for Emerge Inc. If you have questions about creating a  mobile app for your business, contact him at mbeargie@emergeinc.com.

Emerge is an Avon Lake (Lorain County)-based provider of web, mobile and content solutions, and serves the communities of Avon, Avon Lake, Lorain, Elyria, Wellington, Grafton, Sheffield, Sheffield Lake and all of the Western Cleveland suburbs.

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