Starting a new business or developing a new product always comes with risk. This risk is only amplified when building a bespoke product, as it introduces more variables.
However, you can take steps to minimise that risk and ensure your product is positioned for success.
You might have heard us go on about how important research is before, but for good reason! Research really is key to informing your product development and broader business goals.
You’ll need to research:
- Your users – are they typically going to be 45-year-old professionals or 14-year-old students? How are they currently solving the problem your product solves? What technologies do they use in their day-to-day life? Smartphones or desktop computers?
- The market – how big is it? Are there any current or future trends you need to be aware of? Will real-world events (such as Brexit or a global pandemic) have any impact on it?
- The technological architecture you want to use – is it reliable and proven? Is it updated regularly with plenty of support documentation? Are there plenty of developers well versed in the technology so as not to throw up recruitment issues in the future?
You must approach your product from your customers’ perspective, rather than your own. Research helps to pull you out of your own head and gain a more objective view on what will be beneficial to your future users.
If you choose the wrong tech stack, you risk having to rewrite your app further down the line. Plus, outdated technologies can pose huge security risks, among other vulnerabilities.
2: Choose the right partner
For most businesses, building (and keeping) a full in-house development team to build their app just isn’t feasible – especially in startups. Companies ranging from micro to monopoly choose to outsource their development, which adds another layer of risk.
The rise of overseas outsourcing…
The main draw to overseas outsourcing is, of course, the low cost. If an agency in the UK has quoted you £100k and an offshore team quotes half the amount for the same project, it would be incredibly hard to pass up those low offers.
After all, the work is all the same right?! Navigating different time zones is surely worth saving thousands, or even tens of thousands of pounds…
However, cost is not the only variable that determines whether an agency is the right choice for you. We’ve taken on some clients who had previously outsourced development overseas and have been struck by delays, poor quality of work or hidden costs.
That’s not to say all overseas operations are bad – you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each agency you are considering on their own merit.
There’s only one general rule to help you choose the right partner: don’t be tempted by low-cost alone. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Choosing a partner that understands your business goals beyond your app can be of huge value. You’ll want to find a team that has your business’ best interests at heart and will be honest with you when something might keep you from achieving them.
Having the right team onside will minimise the risk of building the wrong product as they will be able to bring their technical knowledge, sector expertise and app experience to the table.
You might also like: 5 questions to help you choose the right tech agency →
This takes some of the pressure off of you – they can advise you on whether you’re opting for the best tech stack for your project, offer alternative solutions to any features that aren’t absolutely necessary for your MVP or will take a lot of time (and thus money) to build and even provide strategic insight to your planned marketing activities.
3: Build a small product in small iterations
Let’s say you launch an app with hundreds of snazzy and innovative features for your users to take advantage of. You take a look at your churn rate, and it’s pretty high – customers that have provided feedback say things like “difficult to use” or “confusing to navigate”.
The more features you have, the less you’re able to meaningfully measure how your users feel about them and respond accordingly.
The key to app development is measuring how your users interact with your product and then plan and implement accordingly. Doing this in small iterations means there’s less work to undo if a mistake is made.
The clue is in the minimum and viable aspects of an MVP. You want to be able to launch your product quickly to see if it has legs and start making money with it. Once both conditions are fulfilled (i.e. the project is showing signs of success and you have more money), you can think about implementing some of your ‘nice-to-have’ features. It’s as simple as that.
Select too many features, and your app will take longer to launch, resulting in a higher cost of entry and the danger of developing features that your future customers won’t need.
Plus, being overly eager to implement a long list of features is usually an indication that assumptions have been made about your customers or the way they’ll interact with your product (which takes us back to Step 1: Research).
On a limited startup budget, you want to be spending money on features that are absolutely critical to your application, and it’s core function. No one wants to be throwing money around based on assumptions, as it’s likely it will be wasted.
The key is to start small, and dream big!
Want to book a free, initial consultation about your project? Get in touch →