Category: Blog, Design, Business, Fundamentals

6 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Developing a Mobile App for your Business

Building a successful mobile app for your business is no piece of cake. Many business owners tend to make common mobile app development mistakes that directly affect their outcomes. Learn how to avoid them.

Common mistakes in mobile app development and how to avoid them

This article will outline 6 common reasons why mobile app development projects fail and identify areas for improvement. We illustrate each mistake with a short case study.

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  1. No Value Proposition or solution for user problems
  2. Not adapting to market changes
  3. Copying other similar apps
  4. Not enough attention to research
  5. User overwhelming
  6. A love affair with animations



How many mobile apps have a chance to succeed?

In 2019 alone, users downloaded 204 billion applications.1 How many of them statically have a chance to succeed? About 0.01%. This means that only 1 out of 10,000 launched apps will be profitable and recognizable.2

When thinking about a beautifully designed product, we can’t forget about its users and their needs

Publishers are always trying to respond to the question of why mobile applications are not successful. The most commonly given reasons are:

  • a weak User Experience,
  • the app does not solve users’ problems,
  • bad visual aspects like Brand and Product Design.3 4 5

This means that Product Owners and managers often tend to think about the solution – a final, beautiful looking product.

That’s great because such thinking sets us into the vision of the project. Still, we can’t skip the road and not think about our users and how they will use the product, who they are, what their needs are, and how our product can make their lives better. The increasing importance of user experience is one of the latest design trends in mobile app development for 2020.

Let’s go deeper into the reasons why most mobile apps are not successful, what you can learn from them, and, ultimately, what common mistakes you can now avoid at the start of every project.

Popular mobile app development mistakes to avoid when developing a mobile app for your business

1. No Value Proposition or solution for user problems

The unique benefits of your app functionalities for your users are one of the most important things. Even if you have a great design, engineers, a budget, and various other resources, if the app doesn’t resolve users’ problems, the risk of not succeeding is high. According to Forbes, lacking a value proposition* is one of the main reasons, why mobile apps not succeed.

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered to your users.

Google+ case study

In 2011, Google launched a new social networking app initially codenamed Emerald Sea, and later known as Google+. The new social network was available on all platforms desktop, iOS, and Android. Its creators took some pieces of inspiration from Twitter, Facebook, and Beluga, forming Google+ as the public came to experience it.

The main idea behind Google+ was simple: help to connect people with their closest friends and families, neighbors, coworkers, etc. However, a controversy was raised amongst the team with the choice of the content display model.

Managers picked the Asymmetric Follow Model – the same as Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin. This means that you need to follow somebody to see their posts.6

The model in itself gives enormous opportunities for growing a social media app because it works a bit like pinballs, which cause addiction (just like gambling).7 Actions on content such as comments or likes ensure this content is displayed for friends. Ultimately, this creates huge content distribution ranges.

But the model doesn’t guarantee that our closest friends will see what we wanted to show them – and that was the basic premise

Also, the content ranking based on likes and comments didn’t help to resolve the main users’ problems. The assumption was that the user wants to see what is happening with their loved ones. Auntie’s published photo from vacation will not necessarily be popular with other users.

So, the main reason why Google+ failed was its lack of coherence unique values for its users relative to competitors such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. What’s more, even Google’s own products, like Gmail or Google Photos, cannibalized the idea.

To sum up, one of the main mistakes that can ruin your mobile app is ignoring user needs and not giving them a value proposition.

2. Not adapting to market changes

Vine app case study

Imagine a mobile app that allows you to make 6-second clips and share your moments of life with others. Sound familiar? No, I’m not talking about Instagram, Tik Tok, or Boomerang. I’m talking about Vine.

Vine was a free mobile application founded in 2012 that allowed users to record and share an unlimited number of short, looped video clips with a maximum length of six seconds.

In 2013, it became the fastest growing mobile app in the world.

Vine was used by actors, singers, and celebrities, but also by regular users. Thanks to Vine, many people who are known celebrities today gained their initial fame.8

So what went wrong? Ankur Thakkar, Vine’s head of editorial, said that the network didn’t ship anything for a year. So, the main problem was that the app stopped following new trends and engaging users, alongside not developing any new features.9

It is crucial to adapt your product to market conditions and track your competition. New functionalities increase the involvement and user experience of mobile apps.

You can see in the example of Vine that, even if your product is great and is gaining popularity, you must remember to constantly take care of its top-notch user experience. Not adapting to market changes is one of the most common mobile app development mistakes to avoid.

3. Copying other similar apps

Different mobile applications screens

Shot from showing Uber-like apps

There is no one example, because how many unsuccessful apps do you know? Right. You don’t know them, because they did not succeed!

Often, founders think “Uber did the trick – let’s copy them. We’ll definitely succeed.” That’s not how it works.

As I wrote in the introduction, a Gartner study revealed that mobile apps’ commercial success rate for the year 2018 was 0.01%. So it’s important to find your niche and give the right functionalities, as well as choose recognizable colors, unique illustrations, and experiences that users will love. Product Canvas and Personas are examples of tools that can be useful in clarifying your mobile app business idea.

Remember that each mobile product is unique and has its own goals, value, audience, and functionality. Copying a well prospering solution doesn’t give you the guarantee that your app will succeed. Look at the example of Google+, which I wrote about earlier.

Ask yourself: how can I create a unique value for my users? How will my app change their lives and make them better? What is attractive to them? If you copy all your colors and visual aspects, how will users remember your product? Think about it and remember that you can be the trendsetter in your industry and others will be copying you.

To sum up, one of the worst mistakes mobile app owners can make is to copying other apps without creating any unique value for its users. Read also: 5 Key Legal Considerations in Mobile App Development

4. Skipping or not paying much attention to research

Hailo app case study

Hailo was the English equivalent of Uber, created in 2011. It allowed users to order only licensed taxi drivers. One year later, they pulled out of the North American market. What happened?

Originating from the UK, Hailo’s business model was based on using professional taxi drivers, such as Black Cabs in London. Users on the native market loved that. The owners wanted to do the same with Yellow Cabs in New York City.9 10 By acquiring new markets in 2013, they received 100 million dollars of financing in the USA.11 Yet, it later turned out that their idea did not work out. Why?

Shahar Waiser, the CEO of Gett, who was the main Hailo competitor, said that cabs in New York work differently than in the UK. “In Manhattan, there are only Yellow Cabs, so people don’t need an app to call Yellows because they are always available.”

So, if you wanted to take a Yellow taxi, you didn’t need an app for that. You could just catch the taxi on the street. Statistics show that Hailo had an 80% rejection on orders of yellow cabs because users at that time caught another yellow taxi.12

In New York City, only Yellow Cabs are privileged to take passengers from street hails. The black ones can’t legally pick people up unless the cab is ordered beforehand.

Uber knew that and responded to the needs of users, while also resolving the problem of the legality of receiving passengers by black taxis. At the beginning, they launched Black Cabs in New York City, and they soon became the world’s leader.

Hailo also met technical issues in New York City. Not only is the payment system depreciated by modern standards, the application also has technical problems connecting the Yellow Cabs (and the respective network/hubs) themselves to the application.

To sum up, one of the most common mobile app development mistakes is ignoring market research.

5. User overwhelming

Screens of Healthy Drinks app by Philips

Healthy Drinks app by Philips

Mainly to show an example, I found the first ‘better’ application with a relatively poor rating in the App Store (read also: Guide on How to publish your app on app stores). I came across this Philips app, designed to help create healthy shake and cocktail recipes.

I recommend persistent people to download the application and check its user experience. However, the above photos present the overloaded content which I have in my mind.

Oliver Reichenstein, the CEO and founder of Information Architects Tokyo, once said: “The good design is invisible.”13 Take a look at the most popular apps in the world, like Messenger, Instagram, Tic Toc, Whatsapp, etc. They are simple, smart, and easy to use because they have been well thought out.

Design Foundation is one of the most critical and influential digital design education companies in the world. They’ve prepared a list of the most common mobile apps mistakes. Several of them are repeated patterns like Information overload, navigational problems, undesigned user journeys, useless images, and unnecessary animations, which seem great at first glance, but they don’t help solve your users’ actual problems.

6. A love affair with animations

Since 2018, we have been observing a significant increase in the importance of animation in applications. On one hand, this is good to hear, as it means that the designer industry and the overall quality of products are growing. Animations are an essential part of providing positive experiences.

On the other hand, the second answer on why people delete an app is “limited storage”. If your app will be too heavy then (and many animations make the app “heavier”), while cleaning their smartphone, there is a huge possibility that a user will choose to remove your app.14

As said, Design Foundation, “Unfortunately, designers tend to have a love affair with animations, partly because animations are so fun to create that we might not know when to stop.”

We should remember that too many animations make an app “heavy”. Likewise, the second answer on why people delete an app is “limited storage”. Both of these factors mean there is a huge possibility that a user will remove your app from his smartphone if you implement too many animations.

Paypal Concept example

Let’s take an example from the digital world. The above animation is just gorgeous, but it takes about 3.5 seconds to display the details. Simplifying this step would significantly improve user experience.

Also, the product description is too low in contrast. In the case of PayPal and its wide range of users, including those affected by sight impairments, it would result in hundreds of thousands of people who would have difficulty reading it.

Those are edge cases, but sometimes they are very important in the usability field of mobile apps. You have to remember that not only the idea and functionality matter but also small things like animations, colors, fonts, etc.

To sum up, one of the common mobile app mistakes is implementing too many animations in an app. Animations are essential elements for interfaces but only when they are used wisely. Learn more about essential mobile app design trends for 2020.

Common mistakes that can ruin your mobile app – summary

We hope, that being aware of the common mistakes in app development for iOS and app development for Android, will help you to create a top-notch and successful application.

To sum up, you should have a user-centric approach. Everything you will do in your app should be done with user satisfaction as a priority.

6 common mistakes in mobile app development

Pay attention to the in-depth market research, create a unique value for your product’s users, do not overwhelm users with content and animations, and remember to adapt your app to the market changes.

If you want to clarify your app idea, make sure that it will create a unique value, and solve users’ problems, check out our 3-day Product Design Workshop (which can be run also remotely). Good luck!