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In today’s fast-paced digital environment, more people are turning to audiobooks for convenience, accessibility, and ease of use. Not surprisingly, audiobook app development has become one of the fastest-growing segments in recent years and, therefore, a profitable business venture to invest in.
Thanks to modern technologies, people can easily access virtual bookshelves to listen to audiobooks on the go. With the latest innovations and a sound development strategy at hand, entrepreneurs can quickly meet the growing demand for audiobooks and succeed, as Audible and Google Play Books have already done.
This article will provide you with a ready-to-follow, step-by-step guide to developing an audiobook app in 2023. We’ll go over the key features, technical requirements, costs, and all you need to know to build a profitable audiobook app and establish your market niche.
Top Trends and State of the Audiobook App Development Market in 2023
People have increasingly preferred audiobooks over electronic and paper books for the past 2-3 years. This trend is backed up by statistics that prove the popularity of audiobooks. According to Grand View Research, the global audiobook market has already reached USD 5,364.9 million in the past year and is expected to grow at a fast CAGR of 25.6% from 2020 to 2027.
Such tremendous growth in the audiobook industry started with the emergence of Amazon’s Audible app. The success of Audible on the market has shown consumer interest and, consequently, potential for revenue-generating opportunities.
Today, this market has been replenished with new popular audiobook apps that allow people to download, stream, purchase, and lend books directly on their mobile devices that are always at hand. As technology evolves, we’d like to highlight the top trends in the audiobook app development market that are already gaining momentum.
- Personalization. As consumers expect more personalized experiences today, audiobook apps should provide recommendations that more specifically cater to their listening habits, preferences, and behavior.
- Immersive audio. To produce more realistic and immersive listening experiences, audiobook apps may use cutting-edge technology like a binaural recording.
- Social sharing. Audiobook apps may incorporate social media tools to let users communicate with each other, share their favorite audiobooks, and build online communities.
- Voice commands. As voice assistants like Siri and Alexa become more popular, audiobook apps have already started using voice commands to allow hands-free listening.
- Hybrid audiobooks. To make listening to audiobooks more engaging and interactive, audiobook apps may start to include interactive features like quizzes, polls, or videos.
We consider the above trends to become a widespread trend that will positively affect users’ listening experiences. By staying up-to-date with the latest trends and user demands, your chances to succeed in the audiobook market double twice.
So, it’s the perfect time to get on board with these trends. We are here at your disposal if you’re looking for a reliable web and mobile app development company for audiobook software development!
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Which industries require audiobook app development?
Currently, many leading industries adopt audiobook software development to reach the public via versatile content and gain more popularity. Let’s look at the major industry sectors that have already begun to take advantage of audiobook apps.
The publishing industry has been one of the earliest adopters of audiobook technology. With the growth of e-books and digital publishing, audiobooks have gained popularity as a platform for content delivery among publishers. Today, publishers can sell their audiobooks to customers directly through the app, reach a wider audience and offer a more convenient way for readers to access their favorite books.
Online learning represents a wide range of audiobooks available for different educational purposes. Both students and experts willing to upgrade their expertise and knowledge can easily access various online environments to study material by listening through the audiobook option. This can help students with learning disabilities or those who prefer audio content to access educational materials.
Some examples of such apps are Beelinguapp, Cloudbeats, and Smart audiobook.
In the entertainment sector, audiobooks, podcasts, and other audio content can all be distributed using audiobook apps. This can give content creators a platform to reach a larger audience. Audiobook apps can be developed for different entertainment purposes, such as storytelling or audio dramas among various age groups.
Audible Suno and Storytel are well-known examples of entertainment audiobook apps that attract people to listen to a fun story.
The tourism and travel industry is an integral part of any country’s economy, and tourists want to gather as much information as possible about the country they’re traveling to. Today, audiobooks rescue many travel agencies that organize tours of cities, landmarks, and attractions. They use audiobooks as tour guides that allow travelers to listen to information about specific places through an audiobook. These apps can also be used for language learning while traveling, allowing users to listen to audiobooks in the language they are learning.
Examples of travel audiobook apps are Detour, VoiceMap, TourPal, and PocketGuide.
Another industry reaping the benefits of audiobook apps is healthcare. Today, healthcare professionals can access various audio versions of medical textbooks and research papers. Or healthcare organizations can provide patients with mental health apps, offering audiobooks for relaxation, stress relief, or other therapeutic purposes.
Examples of healthcare audiobook apps are AudibleRx and BlueStar.
Numerous financial institutions can also join the ranks of industries benefiting from audiobook apps. People use financial audiobook apps to access audio versions of financial news and market analysis. These apps also experience a huge demand for financial education, providing audio versions of books and courses on personal finance.
Examples of financial audiobook apps are Audible, Libro.fm, Audiobooks.com.
Non-profit organizations can also use audiobook apps to distribute content related to their cause or mission. These apps can offer audio versions of donor stories and testimonials, which can be used to raise money.
Examples of audiobook apps for non-profit organizations are LibriVox, Loyal Books, and Internet Archive.
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7-step guide to audiobook software development
To ensure the absolute success of your new business venture, planning the development process carefully is fundamental. In the guide below, we’ve gathered relevant knowledge to help you build a profitable and engaging audiobook solution.
Step 1. Outline your idea
When it comes to audiobook app development, the idea always comes first. To map out further development strategy, you should first imagine an initial vision of the app you want to build. If you plan to outsource audiobook software development to a reputable development agency, at least you should be able to explain your idea and provide as many details as possible. Consider the app’s features, target audience, and business goals in the process. As a result, you can write down your ideas and share them with all project stakeholders for further brainstorming.
Step 2. Conduct market research
Thorough market research is a proven way to validate your idea and ensure you’re on the right track. During the market research, we can understand what business models suit your business best, define the value proposition and decide on the further marketing approach. At Northell, we take the following steps during this process:
- Conduct competitor research. Here, we analyze direct competitors with audiobook apps of similar nature. Audible, Google Play Books, Scribd, and Spotify are top leaders in the audiobook market. By having an idea of how they do their business and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, we can better understand popular features and functionalities among users and identify innovations that can set your audiobook app apart from the competition.
- Analyze the target audience. This step involves analyzing the demographics, behavior patterns, devices used to listen to audiobooks, and preferences of your potential users. Understanding your target market enables you to better cater your app’s functions, user experience, and marketing target to their needs.
- Choose the type of content an audiobook will share. Choosing the type of content that aligns with your target audience’s interests and needs is essential. We can consider your app’s different kinds of audiobooks, such as fiction, non-fiction, self-help, or educational content. To make a data-backed decision, we also analyze the location of your niche audience to choose the type of content they prefer most.
- Choose where you get content from. There are many ways you can get the content for the app. The most popular options are through marketplaces for audiobook creators or by finding companies using APIs to access their audiobooks (e.g., from Findaway).
- Pick up the development platform. Choosing a specific development platform will mostly depend on the preferences of your target audience if you’re not planning to invest in IOS, Android, and web-based solutions at once.
- Create a unique value proposition. We create a compelling value proposition based on the collected information to attract users and differentiate your app in a crowded market. Typically, it means choosing a feature or a set of benefits that sets your app above competitors.
- Decide on the business model and monetization strategy. Choosing a business model and monetization strategy will define how you will generate revenue. The most popular monetization models are subscription-based, single payments, advertising, and paid content. In any case, it’s essential to choose a model that aligns with your audience’s preferences and offers a profitable return on investment.
Step 3. Hire audiobook app development team
When the idea for your audiobook app is clear, it’s time to find reliable partners to help you successfully bring it to market. Before diving into candidates’ search, you should also consider the roles and responsibilities required or missed in your audiobook app development team.
For example, to develop an audiobook application with basic functions for all tasks, the following specialists will be enough:
- 1-2 UI/UX designers
- 1-2 developers
- 1 QA specialist
For developing an audiobook application with premium features, consider hiring the following specialists:
- 1 Project Manager
- 3 UI/UX Designer
- 2-3 QA engineers
- 5-10 Developers
Pay close attention to their experience, quality of communication, rates, portfolio, and expertise in audiobook technology.
If you choose to outsource your project, you should consider the cost and location of the development company. Eastern Europe is one of the most demanded regions for outsourcing with a reasonable ratio of price and quality of software development.
Eastern Europe is a popular destination for application development outsourcing because of the area’s excellent quality of service, affordable pricing, and proximity to European time zones. Ukraine, Poland, and Romania are the main hubs where you can tap into a pool of reputable software development agencies and choose the one that best suits your needs.
More information on this topic: Why Should You Outsource to Eastern Europe in 2023? (Price, Pitfalls, and Mistakes)
Step 4. Design your audiobook app
The UI/UX design stage will help you to create and agree on your app’s visual parts and navigation. Your audiobook app’s UI/UX design should be visually appealing, user-friendly, and highly consistent with your brand identity. To do this, our designers, while discovering and researching, start creating user interface design and planning user experience and functionality.
At Northell, designing your audiobook app involves the following steps:
- Wireframing. A wireframe is a graphic representation of the app’s layout, structure, and user interface. At this stage, our designers create the basic design of your application and how its components fit together.
- Prototyping. Once we have a wireframe, we can proceed to create prototypes. A prototype is a working model of your app that allows us to test its functionality and user experience. This stage helps us refine your app’s layout, user interface, and features and create interactive mockups.
- Visual design. Visual design involves adding color, images, and other visual elements to your app’s user interface. This stage helps us create a visually appealing and user-friendly interface with brand consistency.
- Navigation design. Here, we focus on creating an intuitive and easy-to-use navigation system for your app. This stage helps us to ensure that users can easily find the features and content they need.
- Icon design. Creating custom icons for your app’s features and functions makes your app unique and distinctive. This stage helps us to create a consistent visual language for your app and make it easy for users to identify and use specific features.
- Testing. Once the overall design is over, we get to comprehensive testing. By testing the app’s usability and collecting feedback from real users, we can identify areas for improvement and bugs that need to be fixed before the app launches.
- Iteration. Based on the feedback received during testing, we may need to iterate and make changes to your app’s design. By doing so, we can polish your app’s user interface and experience to ensure it appeals to your target market.
Step 5. Develop an audiobook app MVP
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a simple app version with a simple design and basic functionality. During this step, you should first consider implementing the must-have features before stepping into full-fledged development to avoid project failure and budget overruns.
An MVP development will help you validate your app idea with minimal time, effort, and money investment. With only the MVP version, it’s quick to understand what potential audiobook listeners want, what features they use, and what they complain about. Based on the insights and collected feedback, you can quickly and painlessly implement updates and improvements to the app’s design and functionality on the go and satisfy the market need correspondingly.
At Northell, this process is typical: we develop must-have product features first with a simple UI/UX design, test the app, collect feedback, and continue full-fledged audiobook app software development once we’re sure the solution is accepted on the market.
Step 6. Define pre- and post-launch marketing campaigns
Developing a marketing strategy for your audiobook app should include both pre- and post-launch activities. Pre-launch marketing will help you to create brand recognition and swiftly attract users right after an official launch. Pre-launch marketing includes building a landing page, setting up social media profiles, and generating hype via press releases or influencer marketing.
However, your app’s launch is not the final destination. It’s vital to keep promoting and optimizing your app through email marketing, paid advertising, and content marketing as an indispensable part of post-launch marketing. Following the most effective strategies to market your app will help you not only attract users but also retain them and keep them loyal to your brand as well.
Step 7. Launch the app, collect feedback, and make improvements
After the initial launch of your audiobook app, you should gather user feedback through reviews, surveys, and user data. At Northell, we can additionally integrate analytics tools, perform beta-testing and collect metrics on the app’s performance. We use the collected insights to pinpoint problems with the app’s performance, bugs, or lack of functionality. We recommend continually adding new features and improving your audiobook software to keep customers engaged and satisfied.
Key features for audiobook app development to consider
Below, we’ve compiled a list of must-have features that users would like to see in your audiobook app.
Registration and smooth onboarding are paramount to engaging the user using your audiobook app from the first interaction. The best practice is to make the whole sign-in process simple and smooth while allowing users to get acquainted with the new functionality step by step.
Sign in/Sign up
Implementing versatile login options is the best practice when it comes to developing modern audiobook apps. We recommend implementing traditional sign-in options with an email and password combination, an Amazon, Google, or Apple account, or social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Users should be able to access a personal profile to quickly access their library, history of purchases, list of favorite books, etc. At Northell, we create audiobook apps with a clear profile menu so users can quickly access information or make necessary changes on the go.
In an audiobook catalog, users will be able to access the audiobook market to find, purchase, or lend books. The best practice in developing an audiobook catalog is to divide the catalog into convenient thematic sections and add filtering by tags, categories, length, genre, rating, etc.
If a specific audiobook attracts the potential listener, he should be able to add this book to the personal library. In such a way, users can easily access books they’ve bought or borrowed from the library. The best practice here is to place this feature right on the home screen like Audible did (between the home button and the bookstore).
Since it takes a lot of space to store audiobooks on the device, audiobook streaming will allow users to stream audiobooks directly from the app without downloading them. This can be useful for users with ample data plans and limited device storage. This feature will also allow users to pause, rewind, and fast-forward during audio streaming.
The ability to download audiobooks is a lifesaver for users on a long trip or with an unstable Internet connection. Offline listening requires sufficient storage space on the user’s device. However, it positively affects user experience and helps users access their favorite books even without internet access.
The player is the primary feature of an audiobook app, so it should offer a wide range of options. At Northell, we implement the player feature that provides users with controls to play, pause, rewind, fast forward, and adjust the playback speed of the audiobook. Another best practice is to allow the display of the current chapter and remaining time and allow users to create bookmarks and notes.
We recommend making the payment process easy and highly secure. Thus, it is essential to follow financial data protection measures to ensure the safety of users’ banking and financial data and to give them confidence when using your app. We recommend implementing multiple payment options such as credit/debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal so users can easily purchase audiobooks or subscribe to a monthly subscription plan.
Users should use the search option to find audiobooks based on criteria like title, author, narrator, genre, or keywords. It should provide relevant and accurate search results and allow users to filter and sort them.
Premium features for audiobook app development to consider
Once you understand what attracts customers, you can move further into audiobook software development by introducing premium features to improve the user experience.
Premium audiobook apps can offer the ability to synchronize a user’s progress across multiple devices. The ability of your audiobook app to sync between different devices without losing users’ place in the audiobook drives better user experience and convenience. In such a way, users can listen to a book via smartphone, smart speaker, or tablet.
Your audiobook app can offer the ability to download audiobooks for offline playback. With such a feature at hand, users can listen to their preferred audiobooks with unstable or without an internet connection.
Playback Speed Control
With the playback speed control feature, users are free to control the speed when listening to different content. Thus, users can listen to audiobooks at a slower speed to better absorb the material or, conversely, increase the playback speed to skip watery or irrelevant parts of the content.
Modern voice assistants like Alexa and Siri allow for hands-free listening when users don’t have time to type and search for the book they want to listen to at a particular moment. So, adding voice assistance to your app will attract a wider audience while making your app flexible and convenient to use on the go.
Audiobook apps should allow users to bookmark a page of interest. Users will appreciate your app more if they can quickly find a page where they stopped reading or mark the place they would like to return to later.
Introducing an ability to gather user data insights on user behavior, such as which audiobooks are most popular, which features are most used, and which parts of the audiobook users are rewinding or fast-forwarding through. The collected information will allow you to track your app’s performance and create the best UX in turn. Real-time analytics tools help analyze various metrics and handle tons of information with impressive speed and low response time.
Business models for audiobook apps
Choosing a business model and monetization strategy will play a key role in how you make money. That’s why it’s essential to consider the most prominent monetization strategies in the market to choose one that fits your business best.
With this business model, users can purchase individual audiobooks for a one-time fee. Audiobook retailers like Audible or iTunes often use this model to sell digital audiobooks individually. The main advantage is that no intermediary is involved in this transaction, and you can set your price when selling. However, it can attract users interested in a specific amount of audiobooks.
Users of this business model pay a regular subscription, often monthly or yearly, to gain access to an audiobook catalog. This strategy is often used in two ways: you provide unrestricted access to various audiobooks after charging a certain amount of money from the customer (e.g., Scribd or Audiobooks.com), or you allow your customers to listen to a limited amount of audiobooks per month. Apps like Audible combine these two methods to provide various options to customers.
Under this revenue model, the audiobook app is free to use, but users will see adverts. Your audiobook app can show in-app promotions of various audiobooks and, at the same time, increase revenue-generating streams. Free audiobook apps like LibriVox or Loyal Books use this model and rely on advertising revenue to support the app’s development and maintenance.
Another popular model to monetize your audiobook app is offering customers paid content. In this model, there is basic free content as well, but certain content, such as premium audiobooks or exclusive content, requires payment to access. Storytel and Kobo use this model in their audiobook apps that offer a mix of free and paid content.
Tech stack for audiobook software development
The choice of tech stack for audiobook app development significantly affects your app’s quality and long-term viability on the market. Thus, below, we consider modern tech requirements and stacks to develop a fully functional, highly performant, and secure audiobook app.
Android audiobook app development
The choice of app type depends on the budget and the type of device your target audience prefers. Android audiobook app development is one of the most popular development platforms choices since the market share of Android apps is over 70%. That allows for reaching a wider audience. Moreover, Android is an open-source platform, meaning developers can access a wide range of tools, libraries, and resources to help them create innovative and feature-rich apps.
If choosing to go this way, you should hire qualified Android app developers with extensive experience in the field and familiarity with the Android operating system and the programming languages and frameworks to build robust Android apps.
Tech stack for native Android audiobook app development we use:
- Programming languages – Kotlin, Java
- Frameworks – Android UI
- IDEs – Android Studio, Android SDK
Learn more about our native app development service offerings: Android App Development Services
IOS audiobook app development
The IOS development platform is another alternative to building your audiobook app. By choosing IOS audiobook app development, you may target a specific audience, deliver a top-notch user experience, and provide a variety of monetization ways to generate income. Although Android dominates the global market share, IOS still holds a significant share in many countries, mainly North America and Europe. Moreover, since IOS users generally have higher incomes than Android users, they might be more willing to pay for premium content, including audiobooks.
Lack of IOS-competent staff to support audiobook app development? Hire IOS app developers at Northell and get the jobs done of the best quality.
Tech stack for native IOS app development we use:
- Programming languages – Swift, Objective-C
- Frameworks – Core Data
- IDEs – Xcode
Learn more about our native app development service offerings: IOS App Development Services
Audio streaming technology
Audio streaming protocols are essential for providing users with a smooth and uninterrupted listening experience. Little audio data packages are transferred over streaming protocols, which are reassembled and played after being buffered on the user’s device. Popular audio streaming technologies include HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH), and Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP).
Audio file format
When it comes to developing audiobook apps, you should also consider audio file formats since this choice will impact the quality of the audio, file size, and compatibility with different devices. The most common audio file formats are MP3, AAC, and FLAC.
Content delivery network (CDN)
A content delivery network (CDN) is a distributed server network that serves users’ content according to location. You should consider this requirement if you’re willing to provide your audiobook app worldwide. CDNs can help reduce latency and ensure faster audio content delivery to users.
As audio files take up a lot of space, it’s crucial to take the necessary storage space into account. We recommend using cloud storage solutions like Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Storage to store and manage audiobook content.
Developers use application programming interfaces (APIs) to implement advanced features and functionalities in their apps without building them from scratch. APIs commonly enable integration with third-party services such as payment gateways, analytics platforms, and social media networks. For example, Findaway offers an API to fill your audiobook app’s library.
Load balancing system
If your audiobook app experiences a considerable traffic load, a load-balancing system comes to help. A load-balancing system divides incoming network traffic among several servers, allowing you to ensure optimal resource usage, high availability, and superior performance.
Payment gateways allow users to make payments within the audiobook app without hassle. We recommend integrating secure payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree.
Audiobook apps often deal with copyrighted content, so you must include solid security and data privacy protection measures in your development plan. Otherwise, insufficient content protection will be subject to lawsuits from authors and posing a ban from the app stores.
The standard security measures we implement include end-to-end encryption, secure authentication mechanisms, compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR, and regular security audits.
How can Northell help you with audiobook software development?
Northell is a reputable app development agency specializing in creating custom audiobook software solutions for businesses of any size and projects of any scale. If you’re interested in developing an audiobook app, Northell will provide end-to-end software development services, including market research, UI/UX design, development, testing, and deployment.
Below are some of our widely used services businesses choose for audiobook app software development:
- MVP development services. Northell offers MVP development services to help startups and businesses build their product idea from scratch. Our team of experts works closely with clients to understand their vision and create a Minimum Viable Product that can be tested in the market. To get started on your MVP development adventure, get in touch with us right away.
- Mobile app development services. For both the iOS and Android platforms, Northell provides qualified mobile app development services. Our team of skilled developers and designers develops unique solutions that are catered to your particular demands, ensuring excellent usability and functionality. We offer end-to-end services focusing on ongoing interaction and client collaboration from idea to launch or beyond. Rely on us to help you make your mobile app vision a reality.
- Custom web application development services. Custom web application development services from Northell provide specialized options for companies seeking to maximize online visibility. Northell creates intuitive, effective, secure online apps emphasizing the user experience. Northell offers end-to-end solutions customized to meet specific business needs, from front-end design through back-end development. Northell is dedicated to producing high-caliber web applications that foster business growth with a team of skilled developers.
- UI/UX design services. We offer UI/UX design services to create engaging and user-friendly interfaces for websites, mobile apps, and other digital products. Our team of specialists mixes aesthetics and functionality to improve the user experience and increase engagement. We put a lot of effort into understanding the target market and producing designs that support business objectives.
- Quality assurance services. We offer quality assurance services to guarantee that the software developed fulfills the necessary quality requirements. Our QA engineers use various testing techniques to identify and fix software defects. These services include manual testing, automated testing, performance testing, usability, and security testing.
Whether you have a specific idea in mind or need guidance on developing an audiobook app, we are ready to help! Contact us today to learn more about our services and get a cost estimate for your audiobook app software development project.
How much does it cost to develop an audiobook app?
The cost of audiobook app software development depends on many factors, including:
- The app’s functionality and design complexity (the number and diversity of features, the number of screens, the number of design components, etc.)
- Development approach (whether you build an app from scratch or purchase ready-made solutions)
- Application type (Android, IOS, cross-platform or hybrid)
- The number of features (basic, premium, and admin)
- The number of third-party integrations (e.g., CRM)
- Rates and locations of your development team (e.g., in the U.S., developers charge $90-$150 per hour, while Eastern Europe developers charge $30-$60)
- Marketing and support
Given the above cost factors, a basic audiobook app with standard features, such as a catalog, a user library, and a simple player, can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000.
A more advanced audiobook app development can cost up to $100,000 or more and include extra features like multi-device synchronization, offline playback, voice assistance, and real-time analytics.
Anyway, these are rough estimates, and the final cost can vary significantly based on your unique requirements and needs. The above information will help you to understand what affects your budget and find ways to reduce your expenses.
Audiobook app development: Summary
Investing in audiobook app development can be a profitable venture that can help businesses tap into the growing demand for audio content. With the right development team, tech stack, and business strategy, companies can create successful audiobook apps that provide a new and unique way to deliver content to the targeted audience.
Thus, if you want to take advantage of the growing audiobook trend, be sure to collaborate with a talented team of app developers who can walk you through the process and help you realize your idea.
How do I make an audiobook app?
1. Conduct market research. In addition to conducting competitive research and target audience analysis, we also select the development platform, decide on the business model, and determine what type of content an audiobook will share.
2. Plan the app’s UI/UX design. We visualize the app’s layout, functionality, and features. Our designers develop prototypes and wireframes that represent the app's user experience.
3. Choose the tech stack. Our tech experts choose the tech stack for developing Android and iOS apps, audio streaming, audio file formats, content storage, content delivery networks (CDN), APIs, load balancing systems, payment gateways, and security measures.
4. Develop the app. Our team of experienced developers creates the app’s front-end and back-end, implements the features, and integrates the chosen tech stack.
5. Test the app. Our QA engineers perform thorough testing to identify and fix any bugs or issues in the app.
6. Launch the app. We publish the app on Google Play and the App Store.
7. Maintain and update the app. Depending on your needs, we continue to improve and update the app’s features, functionality, and design to meet users’ needs.