The long review cycles on the App Store are annoyingly anti-lean. It’s probably the worst drawback of building Apps for Apple. My friend Dustin Mckay even chose to focus on the Google Play store so he could push new apps and new updates way more often.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to be lean. I used lean practices to find success with my first app, GifShare, and have done my best to remain lean ever since.
Here’s how I do it:
Use the web
Last year when I was freelancing and looking for my first success, I didn’t have much time. My previous app, Valt, which I spent four months building, was a huge flop. I didn’t want to do that again.
In attempt to use the least amount of energy to find a profitable product, I created a landing page for GifShare (which didn’t exist yet) to see if anyone would click to download. I then posted GifShare’s landing page on various websites that were popping up on trending searches like “Instagram GIF”.
I received a ton of email signups and click throughs, so I built it. I validated further by testing if people would signup for beta access (which they did) and if they would actually pay for any in app purchases (which they did). The web was a great low cost, fast way to find an idea worth building.
I often use Google keyword planner and google trends to see if there’s any traction for an idea I’m looking to build. A landing page, which you can build in less than 10 minutes using QuickMVP.com is a great way to find some further validation for your idea.
But what about once you have a product? How can you make lean iterations of what you think will improve conversions?
Use dynamic updating from the cloud
If you’re not familiar with what I mean, I mean using a service like Parse.com as a backend which you can make changes to at any time which will cause instant changes to your app.
For example, I wanted to see which background image worked best for my In app purchase sales screen in converting users. I added three I wanted to test to parse, and once the test finished I determined the one in the image was converting way better than the other two. If I had tried this using app updates, this single test could’ve taken 20+ days… yikes.
There’s a variety of different ways to run split tests, but like I mentioned, I use Parse. I gather data using Mixpanel, but you may also use a service like Flurry to measure which version of your tests is bringing your closer towards your conversion goals.
Engage with users often
I’ll admit that sometimes I get lazy and I don’t do this. I always regret not doing it, and always come back to it.
It’s important to have some way for your users to keep up with you. I use Instagram, but you can use Facebook, Twitter, email, tumblr and others depending on how your users prefer to engage. Users will tell you what they want from your app, what they hate about it, and everything in between.
You also get to see up close what your users look like. Browse through their profiles and guaranteed you’ll start to see a trend of exactly what type of person you have on your app.
Another awesome benefit of building your audience is you can cross promote new apps to the users, and I even use it to test which kind of app I might build next.
When I follow these steps — things generally go well for me. Not every experiment I run is a success, but it helps me fail way faster with much less effort. The times I haven’t followed these lean practices have always led to a lot of wasted effort and struggle. Don’t be like that version of me. Be lean!