In this day and age creating your own application seems like no big deal with marbles signing maples elsewhere while hornets “do the do”. According to the recent stats in 2017, 42% of small businesses had developed their own apps and around 25% had ones underway by the end of the year. In other words — the competition is big.
The reality of the application development is far removed from that blissfully cheerful idyll described in numerous blog posts and guides. Creating an app is nowhere near as simple as it is described. It is a serious affair and it takes a lot of time and effort in order to make it.
There are lots of rather peculiar things you need to think over before starting. The purpose of this article is to sort things out and make crystal clear what things you need to consider before embarking on developing an application for your business venture.
Benefits of Developing Your Own App
It might seem obvious but it should be stated — developing your own application can substantially improve your business operation from the management standpoint. The reasoning for that is simple.
Third-party apps are fine and have plenty cool things to offer, but they have one major disadvantage — they can’t cover all your needs. It is a paradox – not enough and too much. They have a bit of this and a bit of that and whole lotta something-something in-between.
On the contrary, your own app is made exactly with your requirements at front and center. A custom app can be tailored according to your working style with the features you need the most. Because of that user experience can be adjusted accordingly and overall interaction will be smoother and more effective.
On the other hand, your own application is a perfect tool for building brand recognition, keeping it visible and subsequently forming brand loyalty. It opens up possibilities of more close interaction with the customers, which makes better and more controlled user engagement. This allows gathering lots of viable information from their activities through the application. In turn, this helps to specify ad campaigns and monitor customer behavior. Also, your application can direct marketing channel. Not only it can represent the product or service itself, it can also host advertisements of affiliate products. And this is additional source of revenue.
But all this is cream of the crop. In order to get there you need to take into consideration a few things.
1. Is It Worth It?
Before you make fateful decision to develop your own application, you must ask yourself one simple question “Is it worth it or might it be a mistake?”.
You need to understand whether it is necessary to develop your own application or is it possible to use third-party applications instead. Estimating pros and cons of it is a must. If there is the slightest doubt about it — just stop and choose something already existing.
This is important from two points of view.
First is budgetary. Developing an app is rather a costly thing. In case if there is only tangential need in one — the decision will be utter opposite of cost-effective.
Second is time management. In the current time, you can’t waste your time and effort on something that ultimately can’t work out.
Choice of a platform is another important thing. Essentially it boils down to sacramental iOS or Android. Both platforms has distinct audiences with their own peculiar ticks and turbulence. Pricing policy is very dependent on the platform of choice. IOS users are usually more ready to pay more for better service while Android users tend to move on for cheap or free options.
On the technical side of things — iOS offers more stable operating space. It is unified and highly secure, though it is not as flexible as Android. But while Android allows more sophisticated and risky programming, it is highly sensitive in terms of security. It should be noted that chances of getting hacked anyway are rather low especially if you don’t play dirty or mess with wrong people.
3. What Are the Opportunities?
If you moved on with developing your own app, next comes examination of possible benefits it might bring. You can’t just make an app and sit on it — that is eerily irresponsible. Every action must mean something or you will end up in the rut. Keep that in mind.
Your application must have clear and distinct role in your business operation. For example, promoting special offers or improving customer support. Its functions must bring something new to the table and improve already existing elements. This part needs to be thought-through in extreme detail because, otherwise, your app may overlap other parts of your business and thus will make it less effective. It doesn’t need to be everything all at once — it needs to make one or two things well enough.
Another thing you need to think over is the presentation of an app to the user. Not only you need to come up with effective and engaging user experience, you need to make it unique. It can’t be just another version of your website. Your custom app needs to be an experience of its own. Keep in mind that it must be functional.
Aside from that, you need to think through the maintenance issues. Your app can’t be just one thing. It needs to evolve — change, expand, try something new. This all must be mapped out.
4. Price Estimation
The biggest issue to deal with upon developing an application is the price of work. It should be noted that the bottom line of the project is highly dependent on the market climate — the way it is assessed remains the same all the time. In order to correctly estimate the price of the project you need to define functional priorities of what you need in your application. Then you need to choose the way it will be developed. There are two most common methods — agile and waterfall.
Waterfall method isn’t really effective in a small business segment. You need to figure out the whole thing from start to finish and then get the result. You pay for the whole thing at once.
Agile method is far more cost effective. It is based on iteration development. That approach allows creating minimum viable product that can be tested in the market on the go. Based on its reception the whole project can be adjusted. Because of that, you can clearly define based off actual data what your project needs and pay only for that.
5. In-house or Outsource
One of the major stumbling blocks in the entire custom app affair is choosing better executors for the job. There are two options — in-house or outsource. Both are equal. It all depends on a situation.
On the one hand, you can keep the thing in-house and trust the expertise of your developers. That is a cost-effective option but it needs big management maneuvers in order to keep the team from exhausting. Another problem may come with the team lacking the experience and insight or simply suffering from overload. That significantly bugs the development process. In result , your app may lack the quality and “it” factor.
On the other hand, you can outsource the team who will deliver the goods. The upside is that you can find the best experts in the field who will make a state-of-the-art application. The downside is that it can be rather an expensive thing.
6. Knowledge Is Power!
Next step in making your application effective is extensive market research. Consider this to be deep dive.
Not only you need to understand your audience and its behavior well enough, you also need to figure out the ways of engaging your audience and attracting new untapped segments of it. You need to see through preferences of the target audience, their typical behavior and primary needs. In its heart lies two-headed beast of “satisfying product” and “affecting service”.
Another important thing is the insight into the state of the competition in the market segment. Your further strategy depends on whether the competition is inert or actively aggressive. By studying competitors and knowing what they can offer you will calculate the exact countering strategy. With it you will be ready for any changes in the market and will stay ahead of your competition.
These are all major things you need to consider before starting development of your own app. Sure, you may ignore them completely or consider on the go but the downside of this careless approach is plain simple waste of resources (mostly money and time) for something that could have been avoided if thought over beforehand.