The Biggest (Avoidable) Mistakes Leaders Make When Going Mobile

Whether you’re bringing your established company into the mobile realm for the first time or you’re a scrappy mobile start-up, there are a handful of leadership mistakes that I’ve seen over the last 5 years of building mobile apps that derail or kill projects. As the leader of your organization, you set the vision and strategy. Apply the same skills that have made you successful to date to mobile and you’ll set your team up for success.

Mistake #1: Not Understanding the Decisions You’ll Make

The biggest mistake that you will make when launching your or your company’s mobile app is not understanding the journey upon which you are about to embark. Brush up on how apps are built before you even engage anyone on your team and you will be more confident in your decision-making and strategy.

  • Understand what choices you will have to make along the way.
  • Understand how your decisions will affect both short-term & long-term, one-time & recurring capital allocations.
  • Understand how your decisions will affect the audience you will reach now and later on down the line.
  • Understand the returns that you should expect on your investment. Mobile isn’t a fad. Mobile is the new technology interface for billions of people.
  • Understand that there are a lot of skills involved in defining, designing, architecting, developing, deploying, marketing, and maintaining a mobile app and that it is extremely rare to find a single person who has all of these skills.
  • Understand that you’re going to need a team of specialists to build anything worthwhile.

Most apps that do well today have a small team of experts behind them with a project manager bringing them all together and empowering them to execute on what they are good at, while keeping the project on-time and on-budget. Don’t think that you can hire a developer – even a very talented iOS developer – and successfully launch a great app. Engineers only become superior when they put in the time and effort to become great developers. If they are splitting their time between marketing, development, design, etc, then they are likely a generalist and will struggle to build a great product without a team of specialists.

Mistake #2: Thinking that Mobile is like the Web

There’s a lot of confusion about “apps.” Whether we’re talking about web apps, mobile apps, mobile web apps, native apps.. etc, we’re talking about the software layer that sits between the operating system and the user. Trying to steer clear of the semantics, I’ll point out one obvious thing: it’s highly unlikely that a good software solution to a problem being solved on a 27-inch monitor on your desk at your office is the same as a good software solution on a 4.5-inch screen in your hand when you’ve got 20 seconds left until it’s your turn to cross the street or you are underground without internet access on the subway.

Mobile phones are totally different than desktop computers and the days of building one piece of software for both sets of hardware are definitely behind us. Your users will treat these mobile platforms differently and so should you. You cannot just copy & paste your successes on the web to mobile.

Mistake #3: Lack of Mobile Experience & Expertise

The first iOS app I ever made was terrible. It looked and felt like a child had made it… Which was basically true: I was immature in the art and science of iOS development, let alone design and architecture. If your mobile app goals are important to you, be careful handing the reigns to an amateur like I was.

Red Adair, “notable as an innovator in the highly specialized and extremely hazardous profession of extinguishing and capping blazing, erupting oil well blowouts, both land-based and offshore” has a great quote:

If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur. – Red Adair

As a leader, you have to set the tone with your mobile efforts. You have to bring in the right people who get mobile, who understand the process of defining, designing, architecting, developing, deploying, marketing, and maintaining a great mobile app. Take this first step to do your homework and set yourself up for success.

If you’re looking for flexible, ongoing iOS development resources without having to personally play project manager, designer, and architect, contact us. We’re happy to help you assess your situation and give you some quick, free advice.