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How To Boost Your eCommerce Mobile App

Last time I wrote about the top functionalities that each ecommerce app MUST have, but now we will explore the features that can help your ecommerce app to get a competitive edge over other apps. 

You probably heard about these features before but you may not realize their potential if implemented within an ecommerce mobile app. 

Take a look at some features that can help your mobile app to gain more popularity.

Augmented Reality 

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have steadily become a part of mobile development. You should consider these technologies if you want your ecommerce app to make a difference in your retail business.

AR refers to superimposing virtual objects onto the real-world items using the mobile device. The technologies have become mainstream with the release of individual frameworks for AR content development by Apple and Google. 

Using AR enables you to showcase a much better view of your products and evoking users for further engage with your app. Users can view your products from different angles which ensures that your users are satisfied with the item they choose and reduce churn rates.

Source: veeqo.com

If you want to step outside of standard and get a bit more innovative, consider adding VR to your mobile app. 

For example, if you offer some clothing items, VR will help consumers to check how the clothes will fit them or look on them. The same thing can be done for many types of retail stores, no matter if you sell clothes, sunglasses, hats and so on.

Source: ikea.com

AR and VR give you an opportunity to present your products to your customers in a real life context. Some great examples are IKEA and Sephora

These technologies give users try-out experience – it removes any confusion with users and the real-life interaction gives users a chance to reach a conscious decision. 

Gamification 

Gamification is a process of adding game-like elements like points, scores, etc., to a non-game environment like education or eCommerce. 

By using gamification in your eCommerce app, you create a story where users can earn loyalty points, complete milestones set upfront, share their achievements and much more. Gamification increases chances of returning customers who will use your app for future purchases as well. 

Source: starbucks.com

Today, engagement is the most important for the success of any business let alone eCommerce – that’s where gamification comes handy. It helps to provoke word of mouth and increase your customer loyalty as well as retention rates. 

H&M developed such an idea to H&M club – the story goes: ‘Become a member and get a 10% discount when you join, unlimited free delivery, earn points on all or some purchases and get exclusive discounts’. They went the extra mile and added some personalized features like 25% discount on the users’ birthday, early access to selected collections and so on. 

Source: www2.hm.com

It’s difficult to gain popularity in eCommerce, yet it is not impossible with the right tools, techniques and a great development team

Recommendation System

Recommendation system is a type of information filtering system which analyzes user behavior to showcase personalized messages, content or suggestions. 

This feature helps you to engage customers and improve cross-selling. It’s similar to experiencing top eCommerce apps like Amazon where the algorithm is designed using Machine Learning (ML) to help the app to learn users’ preferences and display relevant products.  

There are different types of recommendation systems:

  • Collaborative filtering: similar to Linkedin or Facebook where you get friend suggestions based on mutual connections or similar demographics and/or behaviour. It is effective yet it requires a fair amount of customer data (many users)
  • Content-based Filtering: It’s based on customers’ likes as each item carries certain attributes or a keyword. Items are recommended if the characteristics match the profile of the user. It’s less effective as it is not easy to attach attributes to the items and the recommendation may turn out to be vague. 
  • Hybrid Model: It’s a combination of the first two types. By combining the two approaches you can enjoy the benefit of both without having to handle drawbacks. An example is Netflix which earned many loyal users with this approach. 

If you use a recommendation system, you can provide personalized suggestions to consumers and improve catalog visibility – it is similar to brick-and-mortar stores where salesmen understand what the buyer is looking for and shows only preferred products.

Source: oldnavy.gap.com

Customers looking for other items in an app will take advantage of these recommendations to get access to the products matching their needs and quickly complete the purchase. 

Recommendation system can bring you some level of trust from your users thus making them long-term customers which is essential for every business not only eCommerce. 

Geofencing

Geofencing is the technology that enables location-based marketing. 

Geofencing can be another valuable element of brand apps enhancing the experience of product browsing and shopping. 

Your mobile app can make use of GPS, RFID, Bluetooth beacons etc. to allow your app to identify the location of the user. 

With geofencing, you can send customized marketing messages to users based on their location. 

For example, you can send promotional offers the same moment the user enters a marketplace. It will ensure that you take advantage of timing and channel the user’s buying intent to your advantage. 

Geofencing can automatically detect which store the user is in and provide them with a map leading to specific products based on their position. This type of technology can help businesses to retarget customers later. 

If a customer tries an item in one of the stores, geolocation feature can help retailers to use the data and send a related email or a product offer thus connecting offline and online brand communication. 

Source: econsultancy.com

Keep in mind that while geofencing automatically requires permission to access location data, not all users will be aware of what they’ve done. It’s vital for your business to fully state why and how you are using the data so to explain it to users especially in countries where strict data regulations apply like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

This technology is very popular and might be a good idea to consider for your e-Commerce mobile app. 

Mobile Cloud Computing

Mobile cloud computing is a combination of cloud computing and mobile computing to provide better user experience. 

One of the examples is that a cloud engine reduces the server response time thus increasing your mobile app speed.

Your business is expected to grow in the future and it’s vital to scale it as it grows. Mobile Cloud computing provides scalable structure for your business needs – it allows you to scale your services up or down as per the demand, traffic or seasonal spikes. 

For example, while a sudden spike in traffic can slow down a website, cloud computing provides you with a greater bandwidth, power and storage. 

Source: newgenapps.com

As e-commerce business greatly depends on its customers’ data, it’s wise to use cloud-based structures as they are accident tolerant – it can save your business from data loss and keep the data secure, backed-up and easily accessible. 

By using mobile cloud computing, you can ensure that your app has both quality and performance. 

Chatbots

Chatbots are programs that can understand human inputs while in the right context and provide outputs that can be helpful to users. 

Chatbots use NLP (natural language processing) to understand the context behind a user query and provide the most suitable results accordingly. 

A customer can ask about purchase suggestions, payment process, raise issues or find desired products and more with the help of a bot. 

Source: rubygarage.org

Benefits of having a chatbot are huge – chatbots require a small investment for development and maintenance allowing instant assistance to users without having them to wait in long calling queues on the helpline. 

Chatbots provide better engagement – they are specialized in giving advice on a certain subject anytime while people cannot work 24×7 during a week. The result is serving customers whenever they need. 

Personalization is also important – although FAQ on your website can provide some answers, chatbots can immediately answer your customers’ queries and help them with personalized recommendations afterwards. 

Multiple Shipping Methods

You should provide better choice in shipping methods for your consumers.  

People like to have their items delivered as per their personal needs. For example, if a customer wants delivery only to their PO Box address, then you should have that option. 

Allowing users to choose from various shipping options and letting them add the shipping address easily will create a positive user experience in your e-Commerce mobile app. 

Different available shipping methods is a must-have and it would be practical for users to show how much each of them cost as well as the estimated delivery time for each option. 

Source: quora.com

If you start with developing an MVP, you can start with a simple option for users to order an item to one of your stores and once the app gains popularity, you can upgrade this feature and add new options. 

Another feature that is nice to have is the option to easily check the shipping status of the ordered items. It will help to boost transparency and enhance the quality of interaction that customers have with your store after completing the purchase. 

Source:
 https://www.spaceotechnologies.com/

Users like to know the details about their online purchases so this feature will help them to know exactly what is going on with their ordered items. 

Loyalty Programs

Customers spend 3-4 hours more in mobile apps than on mobile sites and a research has shown that mobile app users are twice as likely to return to your mobile app within 30 days as opposed to shoppers who access your website via mobile. 

People who decide to download your mobile app initially show a higher level of investment in your brand. Besides regular promotions and exclusive access to products via VIP membership that many stores offer today, you can also give users an option to collect points and win discounts through your mobile application – driving loyalty through a special loyalty program is a smart move.

Source: devteam.space

You can easily notify your customers about the upcoming events, exclusive discounts and rewards if they wish so. You can also use the app to distribute promotion codes to users, motivating them to download and use the app. 

Offering special promotions and discounts as well as making purchase simple for your users will improve user experience and increase sales as you’ll be reminding your customers to make purchases on a regular basis.  

Extra Functionalities

Besides the above mentioned add-on features for an e-Commerce app, there are some extra functionalities that are optional but can be added to boost your sales:

  • Push Notifications – send personalized messages and offers
  • Beacons – personalize push notifications better per customer offering them exclusive deals
  • Magazine – an in-app blog about the latest industry trends
  • Store locator – to easily find a brick and mortar store nearby. 
Source: slideshare.net

FINAL WORD

The e-Commerce mobile app development process is full of challenges because you are trying to squeeze a lot of content into small screens and it comes with certain compromises. 

You should aim to create a smooth flow for your users from the moment of choosing the product to finalizing the purchase. The process needs to be quick, intuitive and transparent and it should encourage customers to complete the purchase.

Your brand needs to stand out as it’s important that shoppers recognize your brand as relevant instantly.

Adding some extra functionalities to your eCommerce app can help your brand being recognized and your app gain more popularity.

Top 10 Tips for Developing a Successful Ecommerce Mobile App

Did you know that 85% of smartphone users nowadays rather use mobile app instead of mobile websites? Although 33% of mobile sales are made via an app, only 10% of retailers actually offer a mobile app!

Considering such a vast area in the market, any eCommerce business wishing to increase their sales should seriously think about building a mobile app.

When you’re an eCommerce, you must create a great customer experience for your buyers as it is critical for your success.

Before building a mobile app, there are some key elements mobile users impose so you need to understand them.

Simple and Clear Design

User Interface (UI) is the first thing that users experience when they launch an ecommerce app – it allows users to enter the app, navigate and explore the categories and make searches. 

Always keep in mind that the screen size of a mobile device is much smaller thus you’re limited with space –  the home screen should focus on having a clear layout with an easy navigation system and search feature and each button, menu or content has to be well organized and set neatly. 

Source: deorwine.com

Your design should be intuitive for users to easily navigate through the app – your UI shouldn’t make them think:

  • Avoid complicated designs with lots of text or animation; 
  • Avoid UI junk as your users want to find the product they what as simple as possible;
  • Use simple color schemes like monochromatic or analogous scheme; 
  • Pay attention to spacing – lines and dividers are great tools to emphasize different sections on a screen but you can also achieve the same effect by using shadows and colors.
  • Use only a single typeface or you can play safely and use the platform’s default font like San Francisco for iOS or Roboto/Noto for Android. Sometimes it’s better to experiment with size, style or weight of the chosen typeface rather than using another font. 

Just remember, get straight to the point – the fewer clicks, the better. 

Also, consider that every mobile OS has its own style guidelines like Material Design for Android or Human Interface Guidelines for iOS. 

The UI of a mobile app is a genuine attention grabber so make it the best possible. 

Quick login and checkout 

Nothing can irritate more than having to type in the same details over and over again like email address, name, surname, address, security questions and so on. 

Don’t make users annoyed while logging or checking out. Consider that touch-screens are more distracting for writing as they lack a physical keyboard. If you make your login/checkout process long, you will definitely lose customers.

As said many times before, a good idea is to make social media login via Gmail, Facebook or any other favored social networks so that customers can easily login without bothersome numerous input. 

Using social media has additional benefit if you create a ‘Share’ button – that way, your customers can share on social networks what they’ve bought and at the same time, advertise your business. 

Source: profilepress.com

You should offer to store user information and use auto-complete to avoid those repetitive tasks. 

The same goes with checkout – don’t ask users for their personal information until it is really necessary. Keep in mind that it has to fit the smartphone screen without any scrolling. 

Some examples of how you can ensure streamlined service can be:

  • The buttons ‘PAY’ or ‘CHECKOUT’ must be in a thumb-friendly zone
  • Allow the users to modify their order
  • Use autofill fields 
  • Implement error messaging to prevent any unsuccessful order due to typos or incomplete fields
If you don’t make it short and sweet for users, the result will be abandoned carts and lost profit.

Consistency and Simple Navigation

 One of the key principles of design is keeping your mobile app consistent – it means having the similar elements behave and look the same way. 

Source: pixelworm.io

Consistency can be:

  • Visual Consistency – buttons, fonts and color schemes should look identical
  • Functional Consistency – interactive elements (e.g. navigation elements) should operate the same way on different screens
  • External consistency – all your products (e.g. a website and both Android and iOS apps) should share similar design patterns. 

For example, if your ‘Pay Now’ button is green on one page, then it should be green on all other pages as well. 

Source: dribble.com

Consistency brings infinite benefits like making your app more predictable so that users don’t have to learn new ways to navigate your app; it eliminates confusion, helps to prioritize content and evokes a positive emotional response with users.

You must ensure that your menu is positioned clearly throughout the app, listing only the most important sections and that each menu item is easily understood by using a single word. 

The best is to use standard elements like the tab bar for iOS or navigation drawer for Android. Considering gesture-based navigation, think about well known patterns that all users intuitively understand like double tap for zooming in the photo or scrolling down if you wish to explore more products. 

Make navigation visible – if you have a side menu, users should clearly see how to reach it. 

You can also increase the visibility or prioritize some of some navigation elements by using different colors. 

Prominent Cart button

The cart should be always visible since it’s what every customer will use to buy products from you. 

It should show clearly and be able to add a product without taking the users to the cart page, so that they can continue shopping.

Do whatever it takes to minimize the steps and deliver better shopping experience. 

Source: pngitem.com

Product screens should always have a visible and a prominent button ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’ – it will help to make the buying experience simpler for the customer and to improve your sales. 

Source: toptal.com

Make sure that users can easily add or remove the items from the cart. 

One Hand Input

In the world of smartphones and touch screens, you must place the elements that will encourage users to take a specific action.

Thumb-friendly zone is a space on the screen which a user can easily reach with his thumb while holding a phone in the same hand.

Source: storemotion.io

Check if all your elements are in the thumb-friendly zone as people won’t take an effort if they cannot easily reach something.

Which buttons should be placed in the thumb-friendly zone?

-Add to cart

-Proceed button that leads from cart to checkout

-Pay button at the payment screen

Source: toptal.com

Another way to keep it simple is ‘The Three-Tap Rule’ – it suggests that it shouldn’t take more than 3 taps for a user to get any of the products they want to buy. 

Arranging and organizing your products in categories will meet this requirement. You can arrange your products as follows:

-Categories

-Sub-categories

-Products 

You can also use tags to arrange products into specific campaigns like ‘Xmas Sale’ or ‘Valentine Gifts’ etc. 

Source: digitalcommerce360.com

However you decide to proceed, the search bar is essential as it helps users to get directly to the products they’re interested in. 

If you want to go the extra mile, you can implement Smart Search – as a user types in the first letters, a number of possible suggestions should be displayed to choose from. Not only will you save users’ time but you will have an opportunity to show some hot product selection. 

The Three Tap Rule is nothing more than a rule to minimize the steps with all processes like browsing products, adding to the cart, payment and so on. 

Quick Loading

As technology advances, the users have become more impatient than before – they don’t want delays in loading or images not loading in time. Loading circle for more than 4-5 seconds results in a user abandoning the app. 

Just a single second delay in page loading can result in less views by 11% or customer satisfaction in 16% so make sure to speed it up. 

Source: freecodecamp.org

If you want to stay ahead of the game in the e-commerce world, you need to make sure that your app loads as fast as possible. Each element, images or page should load under 4-5 seconds being the attention span time of online users. 

You can use a progress bar to mitigate impatience - this way you let your customers know exactly how much time they need to wait until the process is finally complete. 
Source: dribble.com

Favourite or Wish list feature

Customers like to browse or pick the best items before they actually make a purchase to a specific product. 

The solution is a feature ‘add to favourite’ or ‘add to wish list’ as it lets users gather all their choices in one place before they decide which one they will buy – it’s pretty much similar to brick-and-mortar stores where customers firstly browse before eventually buying something. 

Source: originboardshop.com
Once they decide which item they will buy, customers can re visit their collected lists and decide which one will be the one as per their taste. 

Security first

When you have an e-commerce app, you ask a lot of details from your customers like bank account details, credit card info, address and so on. 

As usage of mobile phones becomes more and more popular, they are also becoming the target of hackers and attacks. A poorly secured app can easily be breached leaving personal information and financial data unprotected. 

This is the reason why you should always provide the high level of security in an app as well as making each transaction encrypted with the best security features.

The most important thing for users is that their information, whether personal or financial, is safe. 

Even if it sounds too expensive, the consequences of not having a high level security goes beyond expensive to impossible as your reputation and business depend on your secure app.

Once the users lose faith in your app, they will never return. 

Keep an eye on the security level of your app and ensure that there are no loopholes.

Another important thing is to provide the most popular payment methods. For example, a customer  who mostly shops online but after checking out his ‘cart’ he realizes that you don’t have the payment option that he prefers. The result = lost customer. 

If you wish to play smarter, you need to ensure that your payment method covers credit cards, debit cards, net banking and e-Wallets being at the top. 

Source: magneticians.com

During the process, always keep in mind the new GDPR for mobile apps as every app is obliged to communicate which data of the user is collected, why and what it will be used for.  If your app doesn’t comply with the regulations, you can face fines.

The best way is to ask for approval of its privacy and security policy right after the user downloads the app. 

Auto Suggestion

This feature is always handy for users – when they browse an app and go from one page to another, the activity can create data logs which can be used later to understand the behaviour of individual users. 

That’s where apps use auto recommendation – to make it easier and faster for users to fill out forms. Auto suggestion predicts common search queries and helps customers to find products more easily. 

Source: toptal.com

Moreover, address lookup and validation makes the checkout process much faster – various APIs like Google Places enable easy implementation of this feature. 

As e-commerce apps should earn your revenue, it’s highly important to deliver exceptional user experience. If you implement app analytics, it will provide you with insight for user-behaviour and similar patterns like session time, click-through rate, accessing custom fields and more. 

The information collected will help you in understanding buying patterns of the users and allow you to provide better recommendations based on their interests all amounting to higher revenue streams. 

Prompt Customer Service

Although you can make the app as simple as possible, customers frequently have some questions to which they’d like an answer. Facilitating the interaction between customers and representatives is a must-have for any ecommerce mobile app. 

Source: smartsupp.com

Providing live chat support to online customers or you can experiment with different options like messaging service, telephone or email support to see which ones your customers like the best. 

This way, customers can easily get in touch with the store in case they have any questions about the products, shipping, payments and more. 

Tell your developers to implement such feature in your ecommerce app as it will be more likeable by the customers and ensure more downloads, meaning more revenue. 

IN SUMMARY..

There are many key features for e-commerce apps and I’ve summarized the best picks to have in mind when building an e-commerce app. 

Let’s recall the main tips which will help you to increase your ‘mobile’ sales:

  • Stick to ‘minimal’ approach when designing your ecommerce app – simple colours, default font and appropriate spacing 
  • Provide fast and easy signup and checkout process flow
  • Comply with consistency (visual, external and functional) and make sure that users can perform main actions without any prior instructions
  • Make sure that CART button and all other buttons easily visible and prominent
  • Provide comfortable interaction in a thumb-friendly zone along with gesture for product image zooming  
  • Provide fast loading of app pages
  • Provide users with an option to choose and perform their purchase at their own pace with an editable wishlist
  • Provide a sense of security and trust by displaying badges and testimonials
  • Incorporate fast search and easy filtering of products with auto suggestion bar
  • Ensure a prompt customer support to offer the best services to your users

These are some basic key features – they will help you get an app that really makes difference in retailing business and make you successful in your ecommerce journey.

How To Create a Mobile App Specification

App specification is a detailed and consistent document about the app requirements that will align your development team and the owner’s vision – it helps to clearly understand what needs to be done. 

If you do it properly, you’ll prevent any unpleasant surprises at the end.

Bear in mind that you can always modify the requirements as per your specific needs.

HOW TO CREATE A MOBILE APP SPECIFICATION?

When writing a mobile app specification, you must make sure it’s clear, detailed and not ambiguous – it MUST be understandable and straight to the point. 

Let’s go step by step on how to create a mobile app specification and what it should contain:

Introduction

This section should include a short description about your company – your vision, nature of business, how long you’ve been operating and if you possess (or released) any prior software solution or an app. 

Although you’d think these details aren’t important, actually they are. 

Such information provides a picture about your company, the principles you want your solution to be based on (in case you have any previous solutions) and the nature of your business process.

A development partner can then gain more insight into your way of doing business and the vision you pursue and would match the desired solution to your actual business strategy.

App idea

You’ve come up with an idea for your app so you need to write it down – basic purpose and what type of problem it should solve. 

Prior to any work, you should conduct a market research. It should evaluate your current customers, review your competitors, define target audience and so on.

Ask yourself: what is your app intended to achieve? What central pain point does it need to resolve?

A table below can help you organize your research:

Table 1: Primary Research and Secondary Research


Source: https://medium.com/@ChromeInfotech

Secondary research proposes using SWOT analysis, here’s an example for a health app:

Another way to analyze your product development can be setting SMART objectives:

Specific – Set real numbers e.g. ‘I want to generate more than 1000 downloads within a week after the app is released on App Store.’

Measurable – Make sure your goal is trackable. e.g. ‘I want new users to log in to my app at least once daily.’

Attainable – Give yourself a challenging goal but not impossible. E.g. ‘I want to reach a million downloads in a year

Realistic – Be honest with yourself and don’t forget about the hurdles you need to overcome e.g. ‘I want my MVP to be finalized in 2 months

Timely – Give yourself a deadline, don’t set unspecific goal like e.g. ‘I’ll finalize my app some day next year’. 

Since the document will be used by your development partner to create more technical records, try to be as specific as possible. Try to include market research results, any calculations and analytics you may have, user feedback etc. as it will only help for your product to be developed exactly as you wish. 

Target audience

Another important segment is your target audience – you should determine who needs your app and who are the people most likely to buy it – end users or businesses. Think about the following factors: age, location, gender, education, income, occupation etc

Understanding your target audience will help you and your developers to get a better idea of the functional requirements of the app that need to be delivered.

Target audience defines the user experience and feature set to a great extent. For example, a social app would have sharing option as a core feature for an application aimed at teenagers, while an app for children would be simpler with large screen elements. 

The best would be to outline a general description or a ‘user persona’ describing it in as many details as possible – age, occupation, app experience, hobbies etc. Once you do that, it will be much easier to outline the app features. For example, if you want to develop an app for tourists, you will definitely need a geolocation feature.

With this in mind, you can now develop an app based on how people will use it. 

Technology Stack and Platforms

This is a part of technical documentation – you should decide whether you want to target Android, iOS users or both platforms as it greatly influences both, a budget scope and delivery time.

If you decide to move forward with native apps, it instantly means developing two applications. This approach requires more time and the cost but bear in mind that in the long run, native apps can save you money.

However, if you’d like lower cost and a shorter time of delivery, you can pick building a cross-platform app with some of the popular tools (e.g. React Native, PhoneGap etc.). 

In case you need to specify which device the app will be supported with – whether it will be responsive or cross-platform etc., we provide you with a list of reference devices:

  • desktop browsers
  • mobile website (browser)
  • native mobile apps: Android, iOS, Windows
  • tablet
  • Smart TV: Android TV, Tizen OS (Samsung), Firefox OS (Panasonic), WebOS (LG)
  • Facebook applications
  • Virtual Reality: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Playstation VR
  • Kiosks

Always pay attention to screen orientation – for mobile and tablets, designs can appear different in portrait and landscape modes. If you have any doubts about it, conduct a usability test

When considering technologies to use for developing a mobile app, keep in mind it can be a complicated task. If you have any certain preferences for the tools to be used, you should share it with your development company so they can arrange for the necessary software capacities.  

This part is extremely important if you want to upgrade an existing product – in that case it’s a must to inform your developers as they need to use the same technology to ensure smooth integration. 

In case you don’t have any idea on technologies you want to use, consult your development partner and they will surely advise you on the best possible solution for your app to function flawlessly along with the features you want to build. 

Features

This section describes the features you’d like to have in your app. The best way to do it is to imagine how the users will use your app and break it into individual screens or steps. 

For example, some basic features may be:

  • Login – the most used feature in most applications – it can be login via user’s email or you can choose a social login through social networks which is very popular as it helps users to login without too much hassle. 
  • Payment system – if you’re building an app with any kind of paid services, you will need a secure payment gateways like Stripe, Braintree or other popular ones.  
  • Geolocation – the feature uses your location and it’s essential with apps for taxi or car sharing apps, rental platforms, social apps etc. In case your app requires geolocation to function properly, you’d need to implement it. 
  • Push Notifications – you’d need to let know your developers if you want this feature in you app – push notifications must fit with the app goals so be careful with this feature. 
  • Chat – this feature is very useful but only in the apps where chat is a necessary option like social apps, dating apps etc. You can have live chat or a comment based chat depending on the app requirements. 
  • Monetization – if you plan to include some type of paid content or in-app ads, you would need this feature. 

You can also prioritize the features and make clear which ones are more important than others with MoSCoW method marking them with Must, Should, Could and Won’t levels of priority.

Source: vectorstock.com

Above is just a short list of features that you may wish to implement in your app – it’s crucial that you provide as much information as possible as it will help your development team to stay on the right track.

With a feature list, they can determine which integrations, APIs and other third party elements will be needed. 

Admin Features

Most apps usually have an administrator to manage the application – you should outline how would like to control it: which options and permissions should be available. 

Source: pininterest.com/prebootstrap

Based on this outline, development team will create an admin panel featuring the specified options like:

  • Managing all users
  • Multi-level access system
  • Remote support and maintenance
  • Access to various app analytics

Wireframes

Image is worth a thousand words’

No matter how well you describe your idea of the app screen, an image will always be much better. A simple outline will give a better idea of the style, layout, user flow and position of elements on the screen. 

A good development team will create wireframes but make sure you give them enough details. When you create a wireframe, you can better see the relationship between the features and outline the functionalities necessary for implementation.  

Source: fingent.com

If you want your developers not to misunderstand the main points on UI, you must be clear on your definitions of fidelity as it can represent different things to different people.  

Below is a table listing the most common wireframe fidelity:

Timeline and budget

Timeline necessary for building a mobile app, as well as the cost, is a bit harder to estimate. However, there are some reference points to it – e.g. you may have a scheduled meeting with a product owner where you need to present an MVP or a prototype.  

With money, it is mainly the same – if you have a limited budget, it means that you will have to build an MVP first and later use it for the basis for upgrades or building a full product. There are some rough calculations as per the complexity of the app, see below the table:

Acceptance Criteria

Acceptance criteria are the conditions that a mobile app must meet in order to be accepted by a user or the owner. You should outline the mandatory requirements for an app performance that you want to see in the final release.

Acceptance criteria will ensure that your development team defines the limits of a user story. 

Source: facebook.com/musthave

For example, you can put ‘mobile app page should load under 3 seconds’ etc.

You should create some test cases where the acceptance criteria can be measured as you will be able to see the conditions in which your app will be used and the performance level that should be achieved. 

Contact persons and details

Although contact details seem trivial, effective communication between the client and development team is the key element for a successful cooperation.

Having all contact details at the start of the project ensures a healthy beginning of a relationship.

Source: techwell.com

It would be helpful if you can identify the key people in charge of the project besides CEO or CTO role, such as:

  • Team leader – in case you’re outsourcing only a part of the project 
  • Product Owner – a coordinator of the development process so that the product delivers the intended business value
  • Marketing manager – responsible for promotion of a product or an MVP

FINAL

There are many ways to write a mobile app specification and ALL of them are correct. You can use one of the dozens of templates online or download our mobile app documentation template or you can create your own specification template for your own projects. 

The most important thing is to provide as many details as possible about the project – the more comprehensive specification, the smoother the start of the project.

Bear in mind that there are no two projects alike, so each specification will have some differences along the way but the core is the same – explaining the idea thoroughly.

Hopefully, our guide gave you some ideas on how to create your own mobile app specification document. 

TOP MOBILE TRENDS FOR 2020

The most impressive thing about technology is that it’s always evolving – one of the most recognizable trends today is increased usage of mobile.

Increase in using mobile is a reality – the average adult in the USA spends a bit more than 3.5 hours per day on a mobile device. 

The irrefutable fact is that people use their mobile devices more than ever before. 

Since mobile defines the time in which we live, let’s see the top trends to watch in 2020 for mobile technology:

5G

The next evolution of wireless connection is on the horizon: 5G. 

As per Statista, an ‘adoption explosion’ is yet to come in the following years. Some smartphone makers like Samsung etc. have already released their first 5G headsets in 2019 and others like Apple have reported they will include 5G to their premium iPhones in 2020.

5G technology means faster and more reliable cell phone connections as well as a massive upgrade to IoT (Internet of Things) as it uses mobile. The cross-connection of devices has become a new norm(al). 

When compared to 4G, 5G will be not only 100 times faster, but will also improve data security, Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D gaming. Although 5G faces some challenges such as regulatory change, the main focus is on 5G and its connectivity possibilities.

Considering 5G application range, developers should design the apps accordingly so to enable users to experience enhanced performance. 

Source: statista.com

eSIM

SIM cards were introduced back in 1991 and was about the size of a credit card. 

Since then, SIM cards endured a lot of improvements making them smaller and smaller.

Source: kwikboost.com

Today, SIM card is on the way into the future by introducing the next version of the SIM that will be impossible to hold because it’ll be entirely virtual. 

The new trend will be eSIM: an electronic (or embedded) SIM. Instead of physical card, SIM technology will be built right into your phone – basically, it’s a small chip used to authenticate your identity with your telecommunication carrier.

The advantages of eSIM technology is that it makes much easier to switch carriers straight from your phone. If you’re a dual SIM user, eSIM technology will help as it supports multiple accounts. One of the first phones to support eSIM technology was Google Pixel 2 along with the app in the store to manage your eSIM card. 

Despite its conveniences, the eSIM faces a potential risk of security issues – it’s still being developed and those risks will be addressed along the way but for now, maybe it’s not that practical to store your credentials and data into the OS of the devices without a better cyber defense.  

Considering that more phone devices support eSIM, it will definitely be interesting to watch what the future brings.

AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY (AR and VR)

Brends today use these technologies to achieve novelties in their approach to customers. 

A few years ago, we had a chance to see obsessive gaming trends like with Pokemon Go, Dino Trek and more. There are many apps (e.g. ‘Ikea’) that already use AR technology to uplift the user experience and some popular social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram have already been using such technology for some time now.

Earlier this year it was announced that Google brought Augmented Reality (AR) to their search – users can view and place certain 3D objects into the space around them. This type of technology has been already working with organizations like NASA, Volvo, Target etc. 

In 2020, AR will be one of the most important steps for mobile industry – some upcoming AR/VR trends can be:

  • AR in different industries like healthcare, marketing and advertising, manufacturing etc. 
  • Mobile AR disruption 

Although AR and VR are in usage for some time now, these technologies have gained a huge boost and their future seems promising. 

Source: statista.com

BEACON TECHNOLOGY

Beacon technology is critical for the future – it’s of great use in location technology and proximity marketing and since it’s easy to use, any regular user can quickly get familiar with it. 

Beacons are wireless transmitters that use Bluetooth technology to send signals. It greatly helps in the information exchange of sales. 

Beacon technology is one of the first mobile development trends that was quickly embraced by museums, hotels, healthcare etc. One of the industries that can greatly benefit from beacon technology, especially if merged with IoT, is retail industry. 

Beacon technology could find its usage for 2020:

  • Mobile payments beacons;
  • AI-enabled chips;
  • Automated Machine Learning (ML);

INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)

Internet of Things (IoT) has been familiar in mobile app sector for quite a while now – its diverse applications list it as a future trend. 

With IoT, people can control the non-IT devices via remote controls or apps. As the convenience has become an essential part of the user’s life, the Internet of Things evolved with time to become an industry. 

Developers should bear in mind to keep their apps IoT friendly as statistics go in favour of IoT, see below: 

Source: statista.com

If developers want to work with IoT in mobile app, they need to pick a viable platform – some of the popular platforms are: 

  • Android Ubidots: It can easily be connected to Ubidots and it will enable the developer to push apps on devices.
  • Xively: offers IoT like features for the app development project.
  • Thingworx: comes with an advanced set of tools to market the mobile app.

AI AND CHATBOTS

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has delivered a significant breakthrough in mobile technology. The integration between AI and mobile app technology results not only in the smarter apps but also saves a lot of time and money for the mobile app developers. 

Some of the examples where AI enhances mobile technology can be Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs), Intelligent Apps, Cyber Security and IoT – each technology sector will employ AI capabilities for its processes. 

The rise of chatbots has also been said to be one of the trends in 2020 and the example to support it is Google Duplex – an AI program that can make calls on behalf of humas to arrange appointments with local businesses. It clearly shows how AI is evolving fast. 

Source: youtube.com

In 2020, the adaptation of bots will escalate to a huge level and what is more, mobile apps with services like online shopping, food delivery and/or taxi services are already working on integrating chatbots to their apps – it will help users to resolve their most frequent queries without calling the customer support.

Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant will be smarter in 2020 to serve with new features that will simplify people’s lives by assisting them in their day to day tasks. Such apps leverage technology via chatbots and learning user behavior patterns for a personalized experience.

How companies and industries embrace AI innovations is displayed in the graph below:

Source: emarketer.com

As you can see, the IT industry is leading the way, followed by a marketing industry but more industries are about to accept AI into their apps like finance, accounting, customer service, healthcare and more. 

Some of the future AI trends for 2020:

  • AI automated DevOps through AIOps
  • AI-enabled chips
  • Automated Machine Learning (ML)
  • Interoperability among neural networks

M-PAYMENT

A huge boost in e-commerce and online banking adds to the tremendous growth in online payment options for the users. 

Earlier, cash was replaced by plastic and it’s high time now for plastic money to disappear. The rise in mobile wallet trend is due to the expansion of the Internet payment systems that require fast and more secure channels for money transactions. Even Blockchain is entering into the mobile payments and powering the apps with more secured transaction options.

The tech giant like Samsung is already working on an enhanced scan’n’pay technique to make money transactions more convenient for the users. Apple is also working to enable the peer-to-peer money payment system with its Apple Pay. 

Source: philretailers.com

There are many payment gateways to integrate into an app and your development team will help you to decide which one would be the best for you. 

In addition to these options, there will be more mobile payment options in 2020:

  • Over 2 billion mobile wallet users;
  • More secure mobile wallets;
  • Contactless payment.

ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES (AMP)

In order to increase the loading speed of mobile pages, Google introduced AMP in collaboration with Twitter that was announced back in 2015

Later, Google officially integrated AMP listings into its mobile search results and it helped developers to decrease the loading time of web pages. They also announced a mobile search box that will enable users to detect the mobile-friendly websites. 

AMP is a stripped-down version of HTML to accelerate the speed of mobile pages – it enables developers to create complex web pages with faster loading speed, lower bounce rates and high performance across all mobile devices. 


Source: searchengineland.com

With a good AMP score, you can acquire a better conversion rate, maximum user retention and it can be an excellent boost to the user experience. 

With these options, AMP will evoke a significant change in the mobile app industry. 

INSTANT APPS

It is believed that Instant Apps are the next step in mobile app evolution. 

Instant apps are basically native apps that operate like websites but you don’t need to install them on your phone. Instant apps have definitely blurred the lines between the app and users by eliminating the need for any download or installation.  

Google first introduced Instant apps in 2016 to make things easier for both developers and users. 

Top benefits of instant apps are:

  • Smaller in size;
  • Possess functionalities of a website;
  • Excellent user experience;
  • Device memory is not used.

Google Instant apps are available for users in the Play Store for accessing apps instantly – for now, there is a limited number of Instant apps available. 

Some Android apps that are available in the Play Store with ‘Try it now’ button are –

Hollar and NYTimes advised that they were able to increase the conversion rate from 20% to 27% by introducing an instant mobile app. 

Moreover, Android Studio’s latest version allows the developers to modularize the app, so users can only use a portion of the app. 

CLOUD MOBILE APPS

Cloud based mobile apps, as opposed to regular mobile apps, ‘live’ on server and are accessed through a web browser. If you want your app to function seamlessly across multiple platforms, you should put an accent to cloud technologies for mobile app development

Benefits of clouding technology for mobile app development are:

  • Streamlined operations;
  • Lower costs and time spent
  • Reduction in hosting;
  • Enhancement in storage capacity of apps;
  • Increased collaboration and productivity.

When ‘living’ on a cloud, it helps mobile apps to store great deal of data efficiently, carry out complex tasks and increase reliability, speed, processing power and security of the apps.

Source: epcgroup.net

Cloud mobile app trends that we may see in 2020:

  • Quantum computing
  • Hybrid cloud solutions
  • Evolution of cloud services and solutions

Cloud storage platforms like Dropbox, AWS, and SlideRocket made it possible to run an app directly on the cloud.

M-HEALTH

As we live in a fast and dynamic environment, we like to keep track of our health and the state of our condition. That’s where M-health came into place.

There are currently over 300.000 health apps on the market and despite some decrease years ago, Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch etc. have continued to thrive. 

One of the most important parts of M-health are certainly wearables. 

Source: colocationamerica.com

Wearable devices are not new on the market – we already witnessed smartwatches, fitness bands, trackers etc. and these changed the way we interact with smart devices. 

As per Business Insider report, wearables are still to experience an increase in revenue in the following years:

Source: businessinsider.com

As the potential of wearables is huge, mobile apps should support wearable technology. Each wearable devices requires a platform to run on – Apple Watch needs watchOS, while Android smartwatches need to sync with WearOS. Such numbers go in favour of wearables and developers should keep an option to integrate their apps with wearable devices, depending on the nature of the app. 

Potential trends for wearables in 2020:

  • Rise in the use of fitness trackers.
  • Less dependence on the smartphone.

As wearable tech is here to stay, we should pay attention to the latest trends and the most common usage per industry. And with M-health market estimated to be valued at $31 billion by the end of 2020, this is a trend that will stick around for a while. 

BLOCKCHAIN

Blockchain is a shared, unalterable ledger for recording company’s information listed as blocks. It can be the history of transactions or bitcoins none of which can be altered without changing all subsequent blocks of the network. 

Blockchain increases transparency, enhances the app security and reduces fraudulent transactions. 

By using the blockchain, the chances are high that developers can design a decentralized mobile app. Such apps are termed as Decentralized Mobile apps or the DApp. It can’t be owned by a single entity and neither shutdown by any external force.

Blockchain can integrate multiple areas seamlessly – it manages digital transaction process and handles peer-to-peer transactions in user mobile apps.

Blockchain will definitely disrupt all industries which need security of digital transaction processes like real estate, healthcare organizations etc. 

Some of the expected trends of the blockchain technology that can help in mobile app development in the future:

  • Asset tokenization
  • BAAS (Blockchain-as-a-Service)
  • Trading on crypto-currency exchange
  • Crypto space and gaming

FINAL 

Mobile apps are getting revolutionized every year – all these mobile app development trends will evoke the app industry to continue expanding at a rapid pace. 

The competition among developers will be intensified in 2020 so it’s crucial that you understand these trends before you start working on your app. 

We know that each new technology in mobile application development has its limitations as well, but with an excellent development partner at your reach, you can always identify the right mobile app trend for your next mobile app.

Now that we know the key tendencies for mobile, let’s watch these trends evolving in 2020!

10 Things Every Designer Should Know about Mobile App Interaction

Most of the mobile market growth is related to the growing popularity of smartphones. By 2014, around 38 percent of all mobile users were smartphone users. The number of smartphone users worldwide is predicted to grow by one billion in a time span of five years, which means the number of smartphone users in the world is expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2019.

Crazy, isn’t it?

So how can you know great quality mobile interaction design when you see it?

The thing is, you cannot.

However, bad design is much more noticeable. Nevertheless relatively short experience with smartphones and tablets, most users quickly get tired of the burdensome content like button in the wrong spot, illogical animation or too much text that kills attention span.

A great interaction design is welcoming and instructive, helps users to figure out how to operate a mobile app and should be natural. These qualities don’t come easy — it takes hard work, lots of practice and plenty of patience during the design development.

I have listed some useful tips based on our experience and readings, which can help you make a practical and stylish app.

Simple and plain flow

One of the biggest mistakes for an app is to be complex, failing to take the user smoothly from one step to another. Your work won’t get much spotlight if users are lost soon after opening the app. If your app doesn’t meet users’ needs quickly enough, someone else’s will.

Digital software must be intuitive, meaning it must carefully alert users for each phase of the app experience. You should use contrasting colours to indicate important buttons, bold topography to emphasize things when necessary and visual cues to point users to the desired direction.

Also, the system should be logical so that users could recognize the iterative patterns and use mobile app intuitively.

Match your interactions to the platform

Sometimes app designers create an interface on one platform and try to imitate the exact interaction design on another platform.

Now, if you plan to take your app across multiple platforms — Android, Apple, Windows or any other mobile operating system (OS) — bear in mind that users select their operating system for a reason — they may prefer the visual style, or they like customization available on Android device or it could be the simplicity of the iPhone etc.

Each operating system (OS) has a specific set of human interface and interaction design guidelines which are strictly followed by their designers when developing the apps for the specific platform.

Take time to study and research particular interface practice in the OS you’re targeting, and then modify your app’s design to take the best advantage of the same and you’ll see — the users will be thankful.

Make a clean UI

A picture is worth a thousand words and a visual interface icon is worth 10,000 lines of code’.

Designers need to figure out how to include all content in small space without cluttering user interface since the small screen on the devices is a big drawback of UI design.

Clean UI helps users to effectively interact with an app since all core elements can be reached easily.

To create a neat mobile UI, you should create strong and simple icons as interactive elements — they can visually explain a function with simple shapes and save the screen space.

For example, you can use a checkmark to indicate that something is done or a heart to show something as a favourite. However, be sure to check if the icons are appropriate and if they transfer the right message.

Additionally, photos and digital images are universally understood in almost any language (e.g. ‘plus’ sign meaning ‘add’ or ‘create’) so whenever you can, eliminate text from your design and focus on elements that don’t require words. By doing this, you’re ensuring that your app is usable for people of any language and thus you increase your app reach exponentially.

Apply familiar patterns

A designer can say he/she did a good job when an app can be used intuitively, meaning UI design has to contain recognition patterns.

Those are the elements which users are already familiar with and which give slight hints on how the app works (like CTA buttons such as ‘Add to cart’ etc.). Users adapt to things quickly and in the absence of the same, they feel uncomfortable.

So, if you plan to use custom interactive elements, don’t forget to add some standard components so that your new app doesn’t overwhelm users with a completely unfamiliar environment.

Declutter and again, declutter

Mobile apps have quickly become the most frequently used piece of technology but their small screens cannot display much information at a time.

As a designer, you should keep this in mind during your work. The best approach to mitigate such pitfalls is to remove as many overbearing features as possible.

To avoid cluttering the app, try to apply only core functional elements which will get users right to the point they need. If a function is not essential — remove it. The simplicity will help users to concentrate on the purpose of your app, making it functional for users of all skill levels.

Don’t be afraid that a minimal number of actions will make your app look primitive — it will just help your app to be more effective and pleasant to use. Bear in mind that people mostly rate the quality of an app based on how helpful it is.

Add game-like mechanics

An effective mobile interaction system should be concise and clear to use so it could operate flawlessly.

Standard apps have fewer chances to get users’ attention. That is the reason why you should bring some emotional aspects to the app if it seems ordinary at first glance.

To make the whole process more captivating, it can be a good idea to use gamification — various challenges, boards, and stickers will motivate users to interact with a product more and return to it regularly.

This is an effective way to create clear layout and transitions plus it adds the element of fun. Users enjoy entertainment, challenges and competitive spirit so they are encouraged to come back. By adding the fun element into a casual application, you help users to reduce some stress and relax while using your app.

‘Short and Sweet’ Form

Mobile phones’ advantage over the web is that they have a lot of great hardware like accelerometer, GPS, Bluetooth, gesture recognition etc. so a designer should effectively utilize those features.

The primary activities on the mobile are swipe, tap and long press so options like sliding, swiping, tapping or using fingerprint should be used instead of typing. You can reduce many form fields by utilizing all this hardware so try different interactions for form filling and make it short and plain.

Additionally, make a perfect search work as that is the measure of successful UI/UX flow to a certain extent. Users usually like the traditional model of swiping down for searching. Also, show the options for a recent search and a favourite search time.

What’s more, always include filter and sort options — you should afford an effective filter and sort options which will give a key choice based on the context.

Orientation

If the users use your app for 30% time in the landscape mode, you must design it for the landscape mode. But a majority of designers test their app in the portrait mode alone.

You should test your app both in landscape and portrait mode.

Landscape mode is usually the primary mode for apps related to driving, finance, books, and games.

Always ask for in-context permission

The first interaction with the app plays a key role in creating an overall impression about it (good or bad). When users open the new app, the last thing they want to see are multiple popups asking for permissions (app would like to access your camera/ contacts/location etc.). This action has a negative impact on user experience (UX) and usually leads to the app being uninstalled. The app needs to be able to keep in touch with users before asking for permission so to maintain engagement.

The strategy of permission consent should rely upon the clarity and importance of the permission type you are requesting. You should make a distinction between critical (up-front) and secondary (in-context) permissions.

Users are very serious about their data and don’t have a tendency just to tap and give all the authority to the app. Asking for the right permission at the right time will make users to trust your app.

Don’t forget the Testing

When you start designing, connect your mobile with a laptop to see the quality of design. Usability testing is an essential stage in creating mobile apps and it helps to evaluate it by testing on the potential audience.

Different usability testing methods allow identifying problems and bugs and quickly remove them. That’s how designers can improve each aspect of UX ensuring user satisfaction.

The Most Effective Product Roadmap Types You Need To Know

No product can be done properly without a product roadmap to simplify the process and keep the entire team on the right track – it can be custom made for a particular audience, with particular type of information or different key points and methodologies. A roadmap may include one or multiple products depending on the type of the product where every product manager picks the best variation. There are thousands of custom roadmap types but I will classify only the most common ones for you. 

Last time, I’ve covered what is a product roadmap and also briefly mentioned Brian Lawley’s classification from his book Expert Product Development – strategy & market roadmap, visionary roadmap, technology roadmap, platform roadmap, etc.

However, the scope of product roadmaps is much broader – they can be classified by audience, industry, format and purpose. 

Take a look at the common product roadmap chart:

Common roadmap types classification

Let’s go through each type of the product roadmaps:

AUDIENCE-BASED ROADMAPS

Roadmaps are usually shared with various people or audiences to align the perspective of all production participants.

Different teams see things with different ‘eyes’ and in order to streamline the communication between different groups participating in a project, a product manager must create multiple roadmaps presenting the same information but from different angles.

This type of roadmapping will facilitate conversation about the necessary functionalities and strategy thus keeping the internal team in touch with customer needs. 

Types of audiences in roadmaps

The above chart outlines the audience (groups) which can be internal and external. 

Internal audience represents your production and management teams. 

Management team is usually consisted of shareholders (your company’s management) and they’re interested in a detailed vision of the product as well as the strategic goals. The solution is strategic roadmap which displays details about customer growth, competitor analysis, new market entry of a product and customer satisfaction.

Production team may be tricky and sometimes requires a custom made roadmap per their specific needs. For example, your engineering (technical) team would find Technology roadmap to be the best fit – it focuses on technical details, outlines deadlines, it’s feature-based as well as listing functionalities like registration form, third party service integration, search bar etc. It also includes high-level information like goals but keep in mind that your engineering team should not be focused too much on a vision but development process and requirements. 

Still, another team like Sales should not be focused on technical features but mostly on product features and its benefits for users – the roadmap for Sales team should focus mostly on the product value. For example, a good choice would be theme-based format as it can graphically show the goal of each feature.  

External audience and its roadmaps don’t share any particular details about internal processes – they should be visually clear and concise, easy to understand and to share ample of information about customer benefits. These roadmaps usually suggest rough time frames and progress of feature releases. 

INDUSTRY-BASED ROADMAPS

Roadmaps created for the requirements of a specific industry usually have a unique content followed by suitable format since they can be used in various industries.

There are few common industry roadmaps, let’s list them:

Technology (IT) roadmaps are usually created to define tech requirements – they determine the usage of a certain technology and help to assign resources they depend on.  

Manufacturing roadmaps refer to actual manufacturing a physical product – as the name says, these roadmaps help to control manufacturing and set the real dates for a specific delivery or release. 

Source: onepager.com

PURPOSE-BASED ROADMAPS

The main purpose of a roadmap is to communicate strategy and the vision between the participants but there are also further options.

Portfolio roadmap is created for the purpose of communicating the strategy between executives and product managers. It’s always crucial to track how each product grows and if your company has multiple products, you should check how do these products relate to each other so to accomplish your business objectives. 

Source: productplan.com

Market roadmaps are usually used if you plan to launch the product across multiple markets – it’s commonly created for the marketing team and internal shareholders to define the marketing strategy. As these roadmaps must catch rapid market changes, they are considered as the most dynamic ones. For example, if a technological progress causes significant amendments, it’ll call for a strategy modification which must be recorded in a roadmap.  

Source: productplan.com

PRODUCT ROADMAP FORMATS

The type of the product roadmap determines the format – it determines the type of content and the key components to create it. The most common formats are Goal-based, Theme-based and Feature-based ones. 

Let’s check each:

Goal-based format

Goals define the reason behind each feature. For example, goals can be ‘Simplify registration process’ or ‘Boost user engagement’ etc. Goal-based format helps to keep all information organized and explained in clear words. By doing this, you’ll maintain your roadmap top-level and make your strategy easy to understand. 

Source: roadmunk.com

Theme-based format

Theme-based format is similar to the goal-based one – the goal and theme both tend to answer ‘Why’ questions, however a theme-based format usually consists of several goals at once. 

Source: roadmunk.com

Feature-based format

Feature-based format uses a product feature as a central point of your roadmap and it’s usually very detailed. However, a feature is not a stable unit since technological innovations and users’ needs often lead to change within your features. This type of roadmap doesn’t specify high-level details and it can be a bit more difficult to understand and maintain.  

Source: roadmunk.com

ROADMAP TEMPLATES AND EXAMPLES 

If you don’t have time or don’t know how to create your own roadmap template – don’t worry since there are many valuable tools to help you out. 

Here are the most popular one:

Roadmunk – one of the most popular tools for roadmapping with different ‘views’ of your roadmap thus it is suitable for different teams involved (developers, marketing team etc.) They give 14 days of trial period as well as a batch of free templates

Aha! – a roadmapping software with really impressive integration list with various applications such as Jira, Slack, Zendesk, Confluence, Trello and the list goes on. They also give free trial of 30 days without requiring a credit card number. 

ProductPlan – also a popular software providing tons of popular roadmap templates. You are given a possibility to try it for free during a 30-day trial period

Open Project – open source software for Agile/Scrum teams. Their leading open source project management software is free (as they say ‘forever free’) and you can check their other pricing plans to see what works for you the best. They give 14-day free trial

Roadmap Planner – open source tool for Linux. They give different package plans for individuals, businesses and custom for your specific needs. Roadmap Planner provides 14 days of free trial so you can try it out and see how it fits your needs. 

Vengage – ‘easy to use’ website for making stylish content for websites, presentations, ads and much more. There are templates for a wide range of projects (infographics, posters, social media images etc.) however they also provide some templates for product roadmaps along with tips on how to create them more easily. Although it’s not as detailed as the above software, it may be a nice change for participants.  

Source: atlasandboots.com

Since product roadmap should provide only key points, try to avoid adding too much detailed information to roadmap yet better use supporting documentation to accompany the roadmap. 

Release Plan – contrary to product roadmap outlining the progress of product delivery, Release Plan sets out strict and precise dates for a certain feature to be released. 

Product backlog – used in Scrum and provides a list of high-level requirements and features – they consist of user stories and represent a to-do list defining the development process.

Technology roadmap is often used as a separate document when developing a digital product – it displays technologies to be used to meet the requirements as well as technical aids to use in order to achieve business objectives. 

Source: productplan.com

FINAL WORD 

Each product is important for your business and ROI – if you don’t carefully plan the development and maintenance process, it will surely turn out badly at some point. That’s where a roadmap comes into place – an essential document for any product development team. 

Although roadmapping is a time-consuming process, the templates and cloud-based applications can make it a lot easier. 

A good idea is to look at the examples of different roadmap types and see which one would be the best fit for your needs. 

Your needs are the ones that will provide you with an answer on which roadmap should you use.