Last week, we kicked off our series on developing a mobile app for your company. In case you were on summer vacation or swamped with work, here are the first two posts in the series:
Today we’re discussing what EVERY multifamily needs to consider when developing their own custom-branded, mobile app.
As discussed last week, building a mobile app in-house or choosing a generic app company is a mistake, because it’s expensive, confusing, and likely cost you even more in the long run when you need to update the app.
2-Step Checklist for A Successful Mobile Strategy
A cost effective— and ultimately more successful—strategy is to not only work with a company to develop your own mobile app but one that meets the below criteria.
- Has a customizable and scalable mobile platform
- Builds mobile apps for the multifamily industry
After all, a mobile platform is more than just an app — it’s a pre-built foundation for your mobile strategy.
6 Steps to Developing A Successful App
When considering building an app in-house vs leveraging a mobile platform, keep in mind the following cost centers:
- Core Features
Exceptional design is now the norm, and it directly translates into the quality of experience users have when interacting with your brand. To create a robust and dynamic user experience, you need a dedicated team of designers and app developers. User experience (UX) researchers are required to design the optimal app layout, validating the app with relevant data to ensure that it’s easy to use.
The last thing users want is a poorly designed app, no matter how functional it is. More than 25% of all mobile apps downloaded in 2015 were used just once. If your app is poorly designed, it will not be used.
Developing a mobile app is a huge undertaking. Creating the data infrastructure that powers your app’s functionality is an even bigger hurdle. We’re talking about big data, cloud server architecture and a host of other system administration level requirements needed to power your app. It’s vital that your app’s infrastructure is organized, secure and scalable.
Data should be easily accessible no matter the number of residents, properties or staff in your new portfolio. New features must easily integrate with existing data infrastructure. If your mobile app doesn’t have the proper foundation, whatever functionality you hope to build on top of it will lack compatibility.
Having in-app features that attract residents, retain residents, help properties in your portfolio run more efficiently, as well as help to understand resident data and optimize your staff’s time. Deciding which features you need and whether they’ll be able to function well together is another key part of the development process. This requires extensive user research, A/B testing and comparative analysis. In addition, the process of deciding and then building which features are most important to integrate within your property management software is costly.
Since the mobile landscape is constantly changing, your app must reflect these changes. When Google or Apple releases a new mobile operating system (OS), you need a dedicated team to test and update your codebase and user interface to account for the new device screen size. Failure to proactively update your app will have negative implications.
Testing is one of the most time intensive and expensive steps of the app development process. It is also one of the most critical steps of the process because it ensures members enjoy their app experience. Some tests are automated, while others require people to manually use the app in different ways to identify issues. There are potentially hundreds of OS and device configurations that you must test for, and every feature must be tested for each configuration. For a robust property app with dozens of features, this could amount to thousands of tests per app release!
Technology is being developed at a record pace. As new technologies become available, your residents will demand that your mobile app is still compatible. This could mean connecting to home automation technology or a new food delivery service. There is some really cool mobile technology offering stand-alone apps in the multifamily market that you can integrate into your existing custom branded mobile app.
It’s not as simple as paying a company or your own staff to develop a mobile app for your multi family portfolio or individual property. The checklist and keys above, however, encompasses everything you need to think about and work on before your custom-branded mobile app lands on the home screen of your residents and staff’s smartphones.
We’ve seen companies waste thousands of dollars and hours on each step, which could’ve been avoided by following our 2 step checklist. Equally, we’ve seen companies waste even more money and hours not thinking about any of the 6 steps listed above.
Our series will continue on Friday as we dive into more practical advice and guidance on developing your own custom, branded mobile app.