For a lot of small and medium-sized businesses, having a properly functioning app can help drive them to another level in terms of overall success. Roughly 47% of all businesses have some form of mobile app, whether the company is based around the app (e-commerce, mobile gaming) or just a supplement to their other operations (coupon apps for brick-and-mortar retail, apps providing news about a given company).
Where the issues tend to start is when companies see the success their competitors may be having with application development, and run headlong into their own attempts without actually taking the time to fully understand what that entails. This is complicated by the fact that there are a lot of myths about app development out there. Taking any one of them as truth can result in you losing a lot of time and resources with little gain. Here’s a closer look at the truth behind them.
1. Anyone can manage fundamental app development.
To create a proper app design from start to finish, there’s a lot more work that needs to get done than you think. Remember, we’re not just talking about that initial creative spark, but functionality design, UX, and graphics. This takes a lot of industry experience to manage properly. What makes things even more complicated, as anyone in tech can explain, is that the world is constantly progressing around you. You’re not just developing a single app once, but will need to adjust to new tech trends, new OS features, new hardware, and even different devices. Is this something your team will be able to keep up with internally? If not, a third-party partner may make more sense.
2. All you need is an idea to get started.
Many small businesses tend to get ahead of themselves when it comes to the “idea.” To be fair, a good idea is behind every successful business, and the same applies to software app development. You should have, as a part of your starting platform, an idea that’s unique, but also reasonable. Ideally, it should be able to be scalable enough to keep up with existing trends. A good idea this year may not be effective next year, so you want something that you can adjust.
Along with a design that’s flexible, it’s also important that your budget is adjustable. For newcomers, budget fluctuation can be a major source of issues in the app development process. Ideally, you want to work to bridge the gap altogether between your concept and financial reality.
3. Coding skill is enough to carry you through.
Does coding matter for app development? Of course it does, it’s key for all major mobile and computer platforms. However, where things go south is thinking that this is all there is. This myth also has coding experts rushing in to make apps, only to stall out when their expertise isn’t enough. Making a halfway decent app is going to require expertise in graphic design and UX, when it comes to the development end.
Outside of development, there’s a lot that goes on also. An app team needs to know marketing and hardware advancements. In addition, they need to understand different languages, sources of data, and backend systems. No solo act is ever able to put together a good app. A team with various talents and proficiencies is required.
4. I need an app because everyone else has one.
The “Keeping up with the Joneses” mentality is a damaging one when it comes to business. The fear of missing out does not make for a concrete and defined business goal. What you do need to understand is that app development requires a heavy investment of time, resources, and money, even if you work with outside professionals to make it easier. So, be sure to do your research before making a commitment. What goals in business would an app help you accomplish? What’s your plan of action to move towards those goals after the app is complete?
5. Operating System conversion is easy.
Say you have an existing app on iOS and want to convert it to Android or vice versa. You don’t want to make this decision lightly, as it’s not an easy one to implement. Creating a version of an app for another operating system means you need to rewrite massive portions of the app code, which takes time and money. There may be some backend parts that are shared, and don’t need to be developed again, depending on your needs. However, these are generally few and far between. In other cases, it’s essentially the work of coding two apps.
6. You can make changes mid-process, as long as you’re an agile organization.
Many organizations are trying to go “agile” in order to better handle the ebbs and flows of the business world, but sometimes this mentality goes too far. When you begin to put together your needs for app development, there may be voices within your organization that want to make changes to the feature/requirement list after the project has already started. This spells several issues, especially since a minor change doesn’t necessarily mean simply altering a few lines of code. Mid-process changes to an app can lead to a ripple effect through the entire project, which means more bugs and errors. This means more headaches for the development team but also more costs and delays for you. As a result, if the impulse strikes you to change up your user interface or add another feature, be sure to decide if it will really pose an added benefit. If not, it may be worth sticking to the plan and considering a software update later.
7. You need to pile on the functions to succeed.
The more you have to offer, the better your app is going to do, right? Not necessarily. In fact, if you look at the most successful apps out there, most of these are relatively simple, with a clear and defined purpose. Whether it’s a navigation system, e-book reader, or a game, it needs to be clear. Being the “jack of all trades, master of none” is one of the last things you want to be as an app. Features and third-party integrations are some of the largest contributors to increased dev time, so you want to be selective here.
8. Expensive graphics determine success.
As we mentioned earlier, graphic design is an important component of a successful app. Visual appeal is going to play a big role in getting that initial download and retention. However, a big role isn’t the same as the only contributor. If an application can’t fulfill its express purpose, or the purpose isn’t clear, it’s not going to do any good for a client, and they’ll just end up uninstalling it. While there’s no such thing as a silver bullet here, UX is pretty close. Your graphic design should be making your solid UX more appealing, not obscuring it.
On top of this, it’s important to make sure that your graphics stay on brand with what you already have. This can pose a challenge if the graphics team for your app isn’t the same as say, who designed your logo. It’s important to have graphic examples ready to make sure things stay uniform. The last thing you want is people confused about whether your app is affiliated with your company, or just a knockoff.
9. You can afford to hold off on customer support.
Ideally, you want app users that start as testers for your materials to become long-term users, and potentially even convert further due to microtransactions and other sales funnels. However, this doesn’t happen if you’re not able to provide some form of customer support. This gives you the opportunity to guide your software updates (if you get a lot of complaints on a given issue, this may be worth revising) as well as a chance to build up customer confidence. If they don’t have a clear way to get their questions answered, it’s hard to have long-term interest in a product.
10. App users = customers.
An app download is a great conversion for your company, but you don’t want to treat it as a substitute for other ones. There’s a major difference between an app user and a paying customer, especially if the app is free. Users will try lots of apps with an initial download. However, they have a pretty concrete idea of what they’re going to use and what they’re going to avoid within the first 3-7 days or so. In fact, 80% of apps in app stores get abandoned after first use. If an app is solid, and you can retain them through that period, you’re likely to hook them for a lot longer. This also gives you the chance to try and get further conversions, whether it’s microtransactions or a sales funnel to another product. It’s better to think of someone who initially downloads your app as a “prospect” as opposed to someone who’s committed to your brand.
11. Work ends when development is complete.
A theme that we’ve been repeating as the variety of different disciplines and skills that come into putting together an app for even a small/medium organization. However, when that stage is completed and you have an up and running product, the work doesn’t end. Depending on who you ask, the task may be just beginning. The next step between development and release is going to be a series of major testing regimens both for bugs as well as user-friendliness. The success of a given app is also contingent on a well-planned marketing strategy to keep it from getting lost on the store listings, as well as updates. You can expect to pay as much as 20% of your initial development costs yearly on maintenance.
12. If you build the app, the people will come.
On the topic of marketing, this is something that often gets missed, seeing as it’s not technically app development. However, it’s extremely important for app success, especially for a B2C product. To give you an idea, the App store has roughly 2.2 million apps. This marks an imposing mountain to climb to get to that all-important top 10 or top 15.
There’s an entire pocket industry that helps in terms of the shop itself, app store optimization. This helps you optimize your descriptions and tags to try and put your app in front of relevant customers. However, there’s other work you need to incorporate into your marketing channels. Customer segmentation, social media targeting, all of these are going to be important to try and funnel your channel traffic into an app.
13. Opting for custom app development will break the bank.
At this point, a pretty good case has been laid out for working with app development companies as opposed to trying to go it alone. However, when you first reach out to a company and get that initial quote, the cost may seem like a huge barrier to entry, compared to your typical off-the-shelf solution. However, you need to understand that any ready-made options are going to come with a hidden price. For example, if you find yourself needing to add more users in the development end, this will start to cost you more as your company expands. The same applies if you find yourself needing to take advantage of extra features later in the app’s lifespan. If you’re constantly changing your business operations around the limitations/updates of an off-the-shelf option, versus having something customized to fit your needs, there’s a major time cost as well. When you calculate all this together, custom web application development will end up saving you more than costing you in the end.
When it comes to app development, it’s easy to get confused when it comes to the process of finding a provider and working together to create a final product for your customer. The best way to avoid any of these myths impeding your process and success is working with an app development company that has a proven track record of support. This is something that we offer at Telkoware. As an experienced IT solutions and services provider, we have a detailed history of successfully delivering innovative customized software development options to clients in diverse industries. We look forward to helping create new apps with.