They say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. That's true in life — and in app development. An application launch is the moment when your engineers' work starts to turn into value and return on investment, and making the most of this time is worth planning, focus and attention.
By learning the best practices and proper procedures around an app launch, you can increase your chance of success in this make-or-break moment: This is your opportunity to present a new and exciting product to your user base for the first time, and the general impressions of the new app can set its trajectory going forward.
Before delivering into the specific steps of launching your app, it's worth the reminder of just why your app launch is such a monumental time and worth planning for.
Why is a Successful App Launch So Important?
An application starts with an idea. Companies today use apps to deliver specific features and functionality to specific audiences. Perhaps the app is a way to access e-commerce features. Maybe it's an internal app used for employees to communicate with one another. Or, it could be the control panel for a new vehicle or a branded gaming app.
Once you know what the app will do and who will use it, it's time to form a strategy for capturing an audience. The long-term success of a web or mobile application depends upon its user base. Securing a large audience of engaged users should be the objective that drives your thinking during the pre-launch and launch processes.
Without a solid user base, it doesn't matter how powerful your app may be or how appealing its user interface is — when there's no one using a piece of software, it won't produce a return on investment. Locking in these users is simpler when your application launches with a full feature set from the beginning.
A lack of functionality may limit an app's reach beyond initial app downloads. Launching with a wide feature set but without adequate testing and quality control for those features can have the same result. Audiences today are made up of people who use applications every day and have high standards regarding app user experience. You may not get a second chance to impress these users.
The Power of Multi-Platform Development: Reaching a Wider Audience, Faster
One point to consider when developing an app today is the fact that your audience will be split across a variety of preferred platforms. Even if you're developing a strictly mobile application, it's essential to target both iOS app and Android app users. If you also want to target Windows, MacOS and the web, the complexity grows.
Using a multi-platform framework such as Flutter is a way to remove the complications of targeting an audience that spans devices and channels. Flutter allows you to work with a single codebase, with one app developer team. Under such a model, there's less room for time-consuming disagreements or divergences between siloed developers.
With all your people working on a single project, it's easier to release simultaneously across platforms, gaining the maximum possible exposure for the new application. The overall headcount necessary is also drastically reduced when focusing on a single codebase, keeping your budget under control.
Read our guide to learn more about maximizing the value of your Flutter-based app before, during and after launch.
Step By Step: What Goes Into a Mobile App Launch?
Once you've committed to a framework for your app launch and set out your intentions for the software's target audience and intended purpose, it's time to work methodically through the steps that will guide the software from concept to real, downloadable product.
In the months and weeks leading up to a mobile app launch, this means:
- Designing and creating a functionality roadmap: This is when a general app idea regarding purpose and capabilities crystalizes into a real, actionable plan. What features are essential at launch? What functionality will be added in the months ahead, and what are the targeted dates for each new development milestone?
- Testing, prototyping, surveying and iterating: With the roadmap locked in, it's time to engage in the meat of development. Creating new builds of the app and iterating based on testing, research, surveys and feedback is an intensive process that is simpler when working with a multi-platform, single-team model.
- Setting a release date and launching: As development proceeds, it's time to set a feasible launch date. Earlier is better, as it helps companies start drawing a return from their applications, but the product must be in a stable, functional state to avoid alienating early adopters.
Directly following the release, the work continues for mobile app development teams. Their next steps include:
- Performing urgent maintenance and upkeep: Squashing any critical bugs in the wake of a launch is an essential process. Even following the most rigorous pre-launch testing, there's room for issues to pop up. The quicker they're resolved, the easier it will be to retain users.
- Following the functionality roadmap: Once the app is running in its initial state following launch, it's time to follow through on the promises made in the product roadmap. Of course, the quicker the team is about implementing fixes, the sooner it's possible to pivot to new feature creation.
- Responding to app user feedback: While the feature roadmap created before launch may be detailed and meticulous, there should be flexibility. After all, once users start interacting with the application, their feedback and the results of app analytics can point the way to valuable new features.
The Power of Multi-Platform Development: Shortening the Path to Launch
The effort to release an application as quickly as possible is important from a balance sheet perspective — during development, you're investing resources, with no return on that investment yet. Multi-platform development allows your team to focus on a single codebase and accelerate the time to launch, adding speed without cutting corners or sacrificing quality.
What Are the Best Practices of an App Launch?
So, how can you maximize the chances of a smooth, effective launch for your latest software product? There are a few priorities to keep in mind amid the high-speed push to launch your app.
- Maintaining a fully tested codebase: Quality should never be a secondary priority, even when you're moving quickly during the launch window. From the very beginning, using code and widgets with automated test coverage as close to 100% as possible is a valuable approach.
Learn more about our approach to code coverage and why we focus on 100% in this blog post.
- Considering scalability: Developing a new app can feel like all the work is leading up to the launch, but the real test for the software may come in the following years, as new features roll out according to the roadmap. Scalability should be a consideration from day one.
- Marketing your launch: Getting an audience's attention is an essential step when it comes to locking in app downloads. This means your branding and mobile app marketing strategy are integral pieces of the overall application launch process. Your mobile app should have strong, consistent branding, and your business should commit to app promotion.
- Releasing smoothly into app stores: Getting your new product listed in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store is more than just a formality. You should have a strategy to ensure your app is accepted by the platform owners, then implement app store optimization for the app store listing and monitor user feedback during and post launch.
Working with a quick-start code generator is a way to bake best practices into your app launch workflow and get to the rewarding parts of app development quickly, knowing there is a strong framework underlying your efforts.
The Power of Multi-Platform Development: Removing Silos and Reducing Extra Work
Having only one team working on your app ensures there is less extraneous work or disconnect between the various versions. This allows more effort to go into observing best practices, all with a smaller headcount than would be necessary for native development.
See how our Very Good Start code generator can help you achieve a fast — and stable — app launch.
How Do You Scale Up After Launch?
The scaling process involves obliging a few different priorities simultaneously. Post launch, your app developer team must:
- Address bug reports and implement fixes.
- Follow the functionality roadmap.
- Implement user interface changes and updates based on feedback.
Keeping up with your audience's needs and wants regarding your app's user experience is an important component of the scaling process. Retaining interest and keeping a strong user base over time isn't automatic, and this is where you can lock in the gains made during a successful launch.
The Power of Multi-Platform Development: Simplifying the Update Process
A single codebase is extremely impactful in terms of updating your app effectively over time. When teams have to update multiple natively developed versions of an app, there is a risk of introducing unexpected consequences, and the update process can tie up resources that would otherwise be devoted to following the roadmap and implementing useful new features.
Ready To Launch Your App?
When developing your next app, you can give yourself a head start on a successful launch by working in Flutter and following best practices. The effort that goes into your launch and preparation can pay off for years to come as the app becomes an integral part of your digital brand identity. You can even team up with experts who can help you build effective practices into your launch.