Developing business applications has become the new battleground for corporations. Developing a sleek, powerful and carefully branded app which is appreciated by a lot of users equals to having your brand name permanently pinned on the screen of their mobile phone – a constant reminder of your business. It is also one of the most direct and personal tools for marketing, customer acquisition and building customer loyalty. While the social media and the email newsletters elicit only a part of people’s attention, the mobile app push notifications are opened and read almost instantly.

However, if you want your customers to carry your business name with them wherever they go, you have to provide them with a business app which combines user experience, design, functionality and brand appeal in the right proportions. How do you achieve this fine balance? Here are a few considerations to take into account when planning the development of your company business app:

1) Understand what the users actually want. Not what you think they want, what THEY want.

The best way to do that is through user research. From the moment you first have the application concept, gather a sample set of 50 potential customers. Interview them on how they are currently solving the problem your product will solve. DON’T SELL THEM. Just ask questions. Take copious notes. At the end of your interviews, ask them how they would rate the pain point of the problem you’re solving.

When you get multiple potential customers saying this is a major problem they would pay to solve then you know you can move to the wire framing and development process. This is incredibly important for both adoption and continued use rates. Having an application that really solves a problem will drive users to your app and also differentiate it.

2) Manage your funnel. Understand where people are coming from and why they leave.

This is easier said than done. With a tool like Google analytics you’re able to see exactly where users of your application come from and where they leave. You need to identify what your conversion rate is at each engagement point in your website and then run A/B or multivariate tests to improve the number of users converting to customers.

3) Stay in love with your users.

A lot of companies will get paying users and then fail to keep them engaged. Make sure that you have a set of milestones in your customer relationship that you commemorate. First day? Get a message from the CEO. A week? Get 3 tips on how to better use the service. A month? Personalized outreach from a customer success team member asking what they like or don’t like/don’t know how to use about your product. These touches keep users engaged. They also give you a chance to collect more data on your churn rate. Knowing when a lot of users are falling off can help you to improve your customer retention and thus your profitability.

4) Don’t let users get lost in your app.

Design consistency is one of the keys for the success of a business app. Every screen and every notification must share the basic color scheme and design appeal of the main app window. This aspect is worth remembering especially if you are building and expanding your app in a modular fashion, adding more functionalities and screens to your app. Even if you are working with a different team of designers and programmers, they must follow the “blueprints” of the original app. This means that you should create a visual style guide for your app, detailing every aspect from the exact color codes to the fonts, typeface size, menu structure and other visual aspects which make your app unique and appealing to the users.

5) Simplicity vs. functionality. What matters more?

The issue with many mobile apps is that their functionalities are built having a desktop computer usage mindset. On a large screen, aided by a keyboard and a mouse, it is quite easy to navigate through a complex menu and juggle many functions and options. The experience of using such an app on a smartphone is completely different and unpleasant. The smaller size of the screen and the reduced ability of interacting with the app (by tapping on the screen) imposes the creation of a brand new philosophy for including functionalities in a mobile app.

6) How much freedom will you give users in customizing your app?

Customizations of mobile apps have become an extension of the many themes and personalization of mobile operating systems. Users enjoy having a sort of control over everything they use. They want to be able to increase or decrease the font size, have their favorite functions readily available on the home screen of the app and other personal touches.

You should discuss with your team of designers and programmers and decide how much freedom you can allow in customizing the app by users in a manner which does not create security vulnerabilities and the risk of hijacking by malicious intruders.