I am working on an app that has a lot of interest. I already built a prototype but I know that before I launch I want to add a lot of additional features that will require more time and resources then I have now. How do I not lose the momentum with interested users while I continue to work on making it an amazing app.
Best to interact with users as much as possible. Phone them up, email them, tweet at them and ask them for suggestions. They'll tell others that you contacted them so its always a win win
I'm in the same exact predicament as we speak but honestly if your app is something that is special there's no way to lose momentum unless someone makes the app before you and even then competition is always good now in my case my app is based off a celebrity so based on how popular the celebrity is at launch time that's kind of the tone setter for the market.
If you need a lot of features to keep all your users interested, then your target audience is too wide. You have to narrow it down, select a sub-group that requires the least features (preferably one). Yes, you may lose some of the users (though not necessarily, if the core feature is good), but it will worth it, because you will be able to engage the remaining users with less features. Try to please everyone, and you will please no one.
This is a bit of a no brainer but... there is a bit but...
Here are the facts,
Apps are going out of fashion and retention for most apps last around 30 seconds.
Sadly, the days have almost all gone of the big app boom that attracted the decent investor, mainly because getting you app to stand out in the crowd and make sure that people come back again and again. Just think about how often you use the apps on your phone and grade up which one's you use often, sometimes, occasionally, rarely and deleted within seconds.
One of the most important features that are almost essential to apps are: Notifications, Communication, Advertising...
Notifications: you have to have great notifications so that it reminds people what going on in your app and that, essentially, that it exists at all.
Communication: being able to motivate the user to add their friends and chat with them easily is key to success, also it helps if the user can search and look at people's profile... imagine how many guys love to look at the pics of girls on your app and visa versa,,, it definitely motivates people to come back and browse.
Advertising gives you revenue.
That said, your momentum is paramount, not just for this app but in life in general. The ability to solve problems and over come adversity is what defines the difference between the average and the great. Just imagine that you decided to climb up Mount Everest. Starting from the bottom, you have a 20 mile hike to base camp, have a rest and check out the view, then you have a continuously incremental climb up, up and up steeper slopes. You get to the top of a really difficult ridge and think that you've won, success, and reached the top, but as soon as you look up the clouds part and you realise that your only half way there.
The question you have to ask yourself is, do you want, really want to get to the top??
I'll tell you, for me I've really sacrificed, I've lost teeth to entrepreneurial-ism! I've lost friends because I can't go out, they think I boring because I'm working on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning to evening. I even took it further and haven't seen my daughter in Colombia for 2 years. This kind of sacrifice isn't too uncommon as you think. There are many mothers and fathers who have left their home countries to find work abroad and send back a proportion of their earnings. It just takes sacrifice.
If nothing else, and the app doesn't kick off and become a billion dollars, you can think of it as having finished a painting. Everyone can look at it and admire your success and determination. It's great for your CV and you can value yourself for job offers at a much higher price.
You'll have gained a valuable life experience.
If you think about life, some think that life is for watching TV and meeting for mates at the pub, but other people think that life is for doing something. Just think that when you're on your death bed, what will you take with you to the afterlife?? Not your mobile phone, not your TV or money... the only thing you'll take is the last second memory, that when you had the chance, you took it, you persevered, you had emotions of excitement, pride, ego, belief, concern, worry, stress, tears and blood, but you'll remember the moment you reach the top. That moment of happiness and joy, you'll open a bottle of champagne and celebrate, only to wake up the next day to realise that you have to do it all over again. You have a new idea of a new height to reach, new features to add, new adventures and stress. You'll wonder, why the hell are you doing this??
Because you can. Because you should, Because you must, Because you are. Because that is what makes you, you. And that's special. So never give up.
Just make sure that there is always two reasons for doing it... for you and another for people.
You can do it. We all believe in you. Learn to enjoy the emotions.
One more thing...
If you think about Paintings... how many painters can you remember??
Now think about how many painters there have ever been??
You probably can remember 5 out of 1 million, but it never stopped painters from painting. Just please don't leave it unfinished!!
Also, create a basic web page with what you're doing on it, and have the functionality for people to subscribe, offer them updates and a facebook page to follow.
Make sure that it's not just your friends who are subscribing... go to local schools or universities or some where that a lot of people commune (a train station?? hospital, tube station, or a monument e.g. Trafalgar Square) and give out cards as a flyer to what your app is and why they might like it... get feedback and push them to subscribe to your page there and then (don't wait for later)
Perhaps it's worth thinking of delivering the app in milestones? I think you should keep the users updated about the progress and at each stage let them know what the app already can do, so that even if they have to wait, they see some deadline when they can expect the product.
On the other hand, are you sure your app has to take long to deliver? There are great engines and platforms these days that speed up development. If it's a SaaS app, you can consider http://raimme.com - a platform for developing SaaS apps in a rapid way. Disclaimer: I'm the founder.
Every feature that will be included on your app should offer a clear benefit. Otherwise it will be a waste of time and money. I think that you might have heard the concept of Minimal Viable Product (MVP).
The whole idea is to get your MVP to market as soon as you can and get real people using it, so that you can iterate and improve your product market fit such as adding new features based on user feedback instead of assumptions.
I would recommend not to build all of the features, in this case there are a big risk that once you launch your app some features wouldn't be popular.
Instead choose the key features, build them, launch your ap and collect feedback from your users.
If your MVP already has the core function and acceptable UX, just give it a go. I think it depends on how long it takes between the updates to keep the momentum. One additional function per month for me is ok, but 6 months can be quite long. And make sure you inform your update, new feature to mass audience.
my answer applies to way more than an app. You keep the momentum by reminding yourself and the team how important the project is, its business case and how indispensable every person in the team is.