How to Prioritize Features for Your Mobile App

When you embark on building a mobile app how do you know what features to include and what to leave behind or save for later? If you have a great idea for an app you may want to include everything right out of the gate. This can be detrimental for several reasons and may not ultimately meet the user’s needs. Let’s look at why and how to prioritize features for your mobile app.

Why Prioritize Features for Your Mobile App

If you have an idea for a mobile app you may already know what you want to do and what your end goal is in your mind’s eye. However for many reasons it most likely will not be possible to do everything you want to right out of the gate, and it may not be the smartest approach.

If you try to put every feature into your mobile app from the start, you may encounter these obstacles:

  1. It is usually cost prohibitive.
  2. You are taking a risk building features you think are needed but might not be.
  3. You stretch out the time it takes to get to market, which can open the door for others.
  4. You may accidentally launch with features which should have been premium features that could have been monetized, but now can’t.

These reasons are exactly why it’s prudent to prioritize features for your mobile app. Doing so will help you reign in your costs, get to market quicker, have a tighter defined scope, lower risks, and save up really great features for future monetization.

How to Prioritize Features for Your Mobile App

In order to prioritize your app features you will need to step back from the excitement of your new idea and take a more clinical, logical approach.

The idea is to

  1. Start smaller.
  2. Test your hypothesis.
  3. Get feedback from the client.
  4. Improve the mobile app incrementally.

The prioritization process can only take place after you have first clearly identified the major value you are bringing to customers. For every app, there is usually one or two core killer features and then there are a lot of secondary features supporting those primary features. It’s important to take some time to brainstorm what your killer features are. Ask yourself why someone would want to use the app and what the real value proposition is.

Once you have defined this, it becomes easier to see what the supporting features are that further add to the coolness factor of your app, but which may not be 100% critical for initial launch. It’s better to focus on getting those primary features working very well and get the product into the hands of some test users, so that you can then survey the users for what they feel the app should have for supporting features. Why guess and make a lot of assumptions?

The goal is to prioritize according to what is:

  • Critical and absolutely necessary.
  • Important but not necessary for initial launch.
  • Neat or cool, but not necessary for initial launch.

Let’s take a look at these categories in depth.

Critical or Absolutely Necessary

Features that are critical are only those necessary to launch the app to some initial test users and which put into action the primary app features. You can sort out these features by asking questions like:

  • What is my app’s killer features?
  • What is the ultimate value my app brings?
  • Does this feature solve the user’s most important problem?
  • Is this feature something you should save as a premium feature for later monetization?
  • Does this feature support an initial objective or a future objective?
  • Is this a nice to have feature?
  • Is this merely a cool feature but not the core feature?

Important But Not Initially Necessary

Features in this category can be saved for app improvement and upgrades, and some may even be able to be added as premium features to monetize your app. These features are those that are important, high quality, or that would be very nice to have and for which users might even be willing to pay. They are features that enhance the primary functions of your app. They typically make the app even more convenient to use.

Neat or Cool But Not Necessary

Those features that are neat or cool need to be evaluated as to their actual contribution to the value of the app. Are you putting too much stock into a cool feature, thinking that it will be what makes or breaks the app? If so, maybe the cool feature is a primary feature OR you may be putting too much emphasis on “cool” vs “utility”. In some cases, “coolness” is part of the major selling point of the app. In that case it is part of the primary features.

Also for launch, we don’t want to overcrowd the app with features that make it difficult to understand or difficult to use. Let your user base mature and get comfortable using the core features first, before adding to the complexity. You have to win over their hearts and minds and keeping it easy and simple is the way to go. Think like Apple does. Apps that are streamlined are much more user friendly and likely to succeed.

The entire prioritization process is part of a process of defining a minimum viable product or MVP.

Mobile App Monetization

Many people seeking to develop a mobile app want to make money right away. This is not usually plausible at the outset since the mobile app will first need to:

  • Attract an initial audience.
  • Start building a user base by executing the core features very well.
  • Gain product loyalty by continually meeting the needs of your user base by
    • Adapting and listening to feedback.
    • Enhancing the app.
    • Providing support.

These things take time and most apps start off free to use with a limited feature set. From there customers see the value and want to either upgrade to premium features or would be open to in-app purchases.

It’s important to think strategically and more long term about your mobile app launch and future monetization. Planning from the beginning what you will include at first launch and what you will save for in-app purchases and premium features is your best strategy. You can also have apps that earn income through membership fees, subscriptions, commissions and other kinds of transaction fees.

Conclusion

As you prioritize features for your mobile app you’ll want to keep the following in mind:

  1. Know the key problem (or two) you are seeking to solve with your app.
  2. Survey potential users ahead of time to see if they think your idea has merit.
  3. Prioritize what features are critical to your app’s first launch.
  4. Realize you need to test your idea by getting something into potential end user’s hands as soon as possible, so you can get legit feedback to improve the product further.
  5. Ensure your product is very user friendly.
  6. Have a plan for monetization of your app over time.

Do You Have an Idea for a Mobile App?

At NVTS we specialize in helping you build your mobile app from the ground up. Since 2003 we’ve helped customers all over the US with their digital solution needs. We can give you expert insights and suggest how you can build a mobile app and prioritize your app features.

Request a Call and provide your phone number and we will set a time for a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your mobile app idea. We offer full digital solutions to power and grow your business.