If you’ve ever had a nightmare that your new app fails miserably in front of millions of people…you may be part of the Shadow Inc. team that developed the Iowa Caucus App. (Missed this story? Read here to learn how the Shadow, Inc. application was responsible for huge delays in reporting the results for the Iowa caucus—the first showdown in the USA’s democratic primary.)

As a company with years of experience developing custom web and mobile applications for a variety of clients, it has been challenging to watch this app failure unfold. But we also have a few good guesses as to why it happened. We would be remiss not to impart some of our IT wisdom to anyone trying to avoid an app release disaster.

Below, Chateaux’s founder and CEO, Ken Zimmerman, outlines some key components to ensuring a successful app release:

It has been reported that Shadow Inc. developed the Iowa Caucus app in approximately two months. If you are going to develop a consumer app in that time frame, it means you only have about a week to actually do the development. To do it right, you need a rock-solid plan.

So, let’s say you have a great idea and are ready to put it in motion in the form of an app. What comes next? Here are a few essentials you must consider before building an app:

Understand Your Audience

First, you need a deep understanding of your population, including demographics. You also must identify your population consumption, in other words what the population is going to be of users in the performance mode—especially if your consumer app will be used by a large audience.

Determine Your Technical Abilities and Limitations

Next, you need the proper infrastructure and design. Before you can even begin considering your UI/UX, you must understand your basic technical capabilities, limitations, and specifications: network, bandwidth, storage requirements; CPU usage on the server side; and all of the mobile devices that will be used, such as Android or Apple.

Then, you need to start asking—and answering—some key questions before you proceed: Will it be a web app? If so, do you have the bandwidth to have a web app? Or do you need it to be a native mobile app so you don’t necessarily need to be pinging a server each time? Are you going to have something that has asynchronous connectivity that can dump all this content when it connects?

Create—and Execute—a Test Plan

Before you begin development, you also need a plan in place to test your product, or user acceptance testing (UAT). Users must download and be trained to use the app at least a few weeks in advance of official use so every single user can become familiar with your application. And if it’s going to be a consumer app with a wide variety of audience age and technological ability, then you would be well-advised to ensure that your app has been field tested with those specific people. In addition, their proficiency with the technology should be captured in advance of any event/official launch/etc. For instance, a user may be required to show that they used the app for let’s say an hour to three hours and then pass some sort of quiz that you can build into this LMS. This creates a historical track record prior to official use that you can use to identify and address issues in advance.

Developing something in two months is kind of unusual. And while it happens, if Shadow Inc. tried to complete this deliverable but couldn’t execute all the needed requirements fully, they probably should have scrapped it and not tried to waste the app. Because the effect of releasing it and the credibility lost by having a bad release when you only have one day to do it is immeasurable. That is why you really need to plan these things out, especially if you only have a one-time shot.

Ready to create a successful app?

Chateaux can work with you to map out a plan that identifies all the pieces you need to uncover, discover, and analyze before you actually start building your app. Performance, bandwidth, storage, population consumption, testing, UAT testing, release planning, focus groups, design, proper UI/UX—we will help you with all of it and more. Get in touch at [email protected] to start a conversation about making your app a success.