How to Create a Cost-Effective App for Your Business
The question “Why do you need an app for your business?” is beyond consideration. The answer is quite obvious — in the majority of cases, it is not a commodity, but a necessity. The main question is the cost-efficiency of your project.
A fine-tuned application can seriously improve your customer service and transcend it to a completely new level. Among other benefits of developing your own web or mobile app are:
- Further establishment of the brand — increasing visibility and recognition of your company’s brand online;
- Providing more value to the customers thus increasing their engagement and forming brand loyalty;
- Another channel for marketing and communication with the customer.
However, there is one thing that makes it all a little bit complicated. Technically speaking, you can develop almost anything (the sky isn’t even the limit), but you need to think how much will the development cost and what will you get out of it.
That is a major stumbling block for many companies. They might be able to afford and market an app to the public, but it won’t bring the profits or results they want.
Over the years we have developed a lot of various apps for different types of business. And we have a couple of tips that can help you to make an app cost-effective.
Why does cost-effectiveness matter?
Buzzword term “Cost-Effective” indicates a ratio defined in comparison of relative production costs and approximate outcomes based on a variety of scenarios. It might sound a little complicated but basically, it is how much you invest into the thing in order to attain certain results and whether it is justified by any means.
Keeping the balance between these two elements is one of the cornerstones of a successful business operation. In terms of applications, it means how competent and reasonable is the use of the application and how many and which benefits it brings to the table.
The cost-effective analysis estimates the pros and cons of the chosen model. It is a relatively simple way of determining whether the production costs and overall effort is worth trying or is there any element that needs to be improved or reconsidered.
However, cost-effectiveness is a fluid thing. The thing can be cost-effective at one moment and then it can turn into a lacking woe. In order to keep the balance, one needs to be cautious about the application’s performance all the time.
So what elements contribute to cost-effectiveness?
Clearly-Defined, Distinct Purpose of an App
In the heart of every application lies a certain intention. But this intention is just that without proper surroundings. You can’t make an app from an elevator logline pitch — it doesn’t work that way.
The first step in making your app cost-effective is clearly defining the app’s purpose and functions.
It is the very beginning of the project where the future is set. You need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Why does my business need a specific application?
- What is this app supposed to do?
- Why should users care about it?
While these questions are rather obvious — their answers define the future of an application and save a lot of time and money. These answers shape requirements specifications, i.e. the blueprint of an app.
Vaguely described requirements specifications are one of the biggest sources of money wasting in the development process. Lack of focused vision can make a lot of setbacks down the road.
And you can avoid most of them by thoroughly describing every single element of an app to a tee — completely ambiguous and to the point. It goes all the way to the model of cooperation with the developer. Sometimes you just need a pair of hand while in other cases you need a dedicated team.
Avoid Feature Creep
Checked the box for the app’s purpose? Make sure that feature is working as it should and focus on that one thing.
Everything else, while not being a total waste, would stand in the way.
For example, think of an email program. Its main purpose is to send and receive emails. There might be additional things that help that central idea, but resist the temptation to put EVERYTHING in one app. (For example, games.)
Why? There are thousands upon thousands of various applications in the app stores and you can’t compete with all of them — it is counterproductive.
If you stretch too thin, an app will be an utterly pointless hodgepodge of dissonant moving parts — as the saying goes “jack of all trades, master of none”. That’s bad for business and, once again, not cost-effective.
On the other hand, it is also detrimental to the development process. Not only the addition of a new feature requires time, but it also disrupts the existing architecture of an app and requires additional refurbishing in order to fit it in without breaking anything. It takes time and with that goes a hefty sum of money (which, in turn, makes it harder for an app to break even.)
Upon considering a set of functions for an application, you need to keep in mind one important concept — brevity. Keep it to the point.
However, it is easier said than done, because in the heat of the moment you might want to add one more thing “because why not?” As the one who pays for music, you can impose the decision on the team. That is one of the biggest temptations that might come while developing an application.
In order to avoid that, keep it focused by asking the following questions:
- Is this feature directly connected to the purpose of an app?
- Is it necessary to the basic operation of an app?
If not, which is almost always the case, put it on the shelf and don’t quake the air.
Basically, you need to keep an app as streamlined as possible and avoid anything that is not essential to its functioning.
Develop Customer Engagement Strategy
Active users are the main goal of any product. Without them, your website or app is worth nothing. Customer engagement is one of the definitive factors in keeping an application cost-effective. However, one can’t just launch an application and expect that everyone will jump on board just because you’re cool as ice.
Nope! The reality of the situation is different.
Even if your brand is well-established and your target audience has some level of brand loyalty — you still need to convince them to download your application. Why? Because there are many other applications and functions of some of them overlap with yours. You need to engage customers.
Basically, you need to ensure by all means that your application is beneficial to the customers and thus it will be beneficial to the company. In order to pull this off — look at the things from the customer’s point of view. Answer the following questions:
- Why should I care?
- Is this app better than the others? How exactly?
The reasoning may be different but the overall set message must incite consideration. You need persuasive arguments that this particular app will solve this particular problem and satisfy this particular need. That’s it for the starting point.
Then you need to maintain customer engagement throughout the application lifecycle. Even the best most refined app eventually gets old and you need to reaffirm the value of an app once in a while.
Think about various ways of expanding or improving various features, streamlining design, adding new optional features, seasonal updates, different levels of service (basic app, premium app), and so on.
Start with an MVP
Minimal Viable Product aka MVP is one of the most effective ways of determining strong and weak points of an application in the wild, i.e real market situation. It is a kind of battlefield weapon testing.
Basically, what you have is a basic barebones product ready to rumble. You drop it in the jungle and see what happens.
At this stage, it is not as much about making it an instant success as a means to observe the customer reaction, collect feedback, and determine which elements need to be improved. All this in the long run help to increase the cost-effective ratio in a significant way.
MVP is also a nice chance to determine which marketing approach is clicking with a target audience based on the basic elements of the application. While it can’t show how to turn the whole strategy — it gives a solid sense of what direction should be taken in order to get the app off the ground.
Be Sensitive to Criticism
No one likes being criticized. Sometimes it can be woefully unfair and unapologetically blatant. Nevertheless, there are also situations when criticism can help to improve some lacking points and make an overall thing better than it was.
The reason for that is simple, fresh head outside of context. It is absolutely different perspective and as such it helps to see the big picture clearer.
In the context of the business app, it is a bit tricky.
On one hand, you can’t afford to put a half-baked application in the App Store by no means — it will result in serious reputation losses that in the worst-case scenario can derail your entire business operation. But on the other hand, some glitches and bugs just slip through the cracks no matter what. They just happen. And when someone points out at them — it is always a good thing.
Another reason why being sensitive to criticism may end helping you making an app cost-effective is a plain and simple refinement of the features. It is one thing when developers are trying out an app — it is a completely different level when users leave their feedback regarding certain elements of the user interface and user experience that can be fixed or merely cleaned up.
These are five strategies that can help you make your app for business cost-effective and user engaging from the very start.
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