7 Strategies for Saving Time and Money on Your Apps Launch
Building an app can cost as little as $5,000 or as much as $500,000, with Applico putting the average cost between $100,000 and $300,000. Whether you’re a fully-funded startup or a solo developer dipping into your piggy bank to make your apps launch a reality, it’s in your best interests to keep your costs as low as possible.
But how can you decide where to splurge and where to skimp? While there’s merit to the common wisdom of narrowing down your apps vision to its core MVP and carefully vetting any outside help you hire for both skill and cost, there are plenty of other strategies you can employ to save time and money on your apps launch.
Here are seven ideas to get you started:
1. Invest in User Experience (UX)
This one might come as a bit of a surprise. In an article on saving money, we’re talking about… investing more of it?
In fact, that’s the exact advice given by Daniil Kopilevych, based on his experience launching hundreds of apps, on the El Passion blog (condensed below):
The #1 way to save money on app development is to invest more time (and some cash) at the beginning. Everything starts with truly understanding your users. The ultimate goal is to satisfy your users. Therefore you should create an ultimate User Experience.
Think about it this way: any time, money or other resources you invest in an app that ultimately fails, is essentially wasted spend. Therefore, one of the best ways to cut your costs is simply to fail less - and failing less happens when you give users the app experience they want, based on your understanding of their needs.
Putting more money into UX upfront (or revisiting your existing UX if your app has already launched) is effectively an investment in your apps future success. It’s a way to save money by losing less of it.
2. Work with Code Libraries
No matter how stellar your coding skills are, there’s little need to reinvent the wheel when code libraries exist for so many of today’s common app functions.
WinningStack offers several such suggestions, including:
Of course, this list is hardly comprehensive. Dig around some bit before committing to coding any features by hand (and check the code of any library or snippet you plan to use before building it into your app). You’ll be surprised by how many features like this exist, and how much time and money you’ll save by using them.
3. Limit Configurability Opportunities
Consumer demand for personalised options and customisability has never been higher, making it tempting for developers to enable configurability at every stage. As you can probably see, however, every option for configuration represents an additional cost - both in terms of development time and added spend - to your app.
The solution, according to the TechnoFAQ blog, is to scale back as far as possible when it comes to configurability:
It’s definitely a best practice in app development to include global configurability in elements like text and color. I’d never recommend going without it unless it’s the difference between making an app or scrapping the project altogether. The truth is that this sucks out a large part of your budget. Making each element configurable takes a lot of work – and work isn’t free.
That said, the blog is quick to point out that not all configurability can be eliminated. Consider carefully which elements truly matter to your app and which may be worth skipping before making a final decision.
4. Look into Hybrid Apps
As a general rule, most developers are best off developing apps for one platform at a time, as doing so lets you gather valuable feedback and fix bugs before rolling out the next version.
The BHW Group reports that this may be 30-40% less expensive than developing native versions of your app for each platform, but it’s important to be aware of the possible downsides. Hybrid apps can suffer from animation sluggishness and customisation challenges; weigh these carefully against the potential cost savings they offer.
5. Crowdsource Your Testing
In the past, most developers carried out testing in one of two ways: either they did it themselves, or they hired a full-time tester (or a small team of these dedicated professionals) to meticulously sift through their UI and code, looking for defects and bugs.
The downsides to both of these approaches are obvious. Testing in-house takes time, and that means both time that’s taken away from your other work, and time that’s keeping your app off the platforms where it can generate you revenue. Hiring a single tester or a small team suffers from the same time-based disadvantages; only this time, with a significant added cost piled on top.
Crowdsourced testing on the other hand, means that testing can be completed in hours instead of weeks, while covering more devices than ever before. It also clocks in at roughly half the cost of traditional testing methods, saving money and ensuring your app goes to market as quickly as possible.
6. Build a Referral Mechanism into Your App
Using this strategy means taking a page out of the playbooks of Uber, Airbnb and other apps that have driven growth through viral referral marketing techniques. Airbnb, for example, used referral schemes to increase the program’s user signups and bookings by over 300% per day.
To be truly “viral,” an app’s users each need to refer at least 1.1 new users to the program. When this metric is achieved, the app grows organically, without requiring investment into paid user acquisition. Your success at creating this kind of viral loop will come down to the specific incentives you offer, as well as the steps you take to make referring new users easy and enjoyable for existing customers.
Plenty of different programs exist that can be used to build referral functionality and incentives into your app; do your research to determine which option best meets your needs. And if your product doesn’t go immediately viral, don’t despair. Any referred users - even if you don’t meet the target 1.1X growth rate - represent new customers you didn’t pay to acquire.
7. Leverage Storytelling Principles
Our final suggestion has nothing to do with your app’s code or the features you include. Instead, the goal of this tip is to cut down on your marketing and advertising expenses by creating a compelling story that secures free publicity for your new app.
Remember, good app press can be difficult to come by. No matter how exceptional your new release is, you’re still competing against the tens of thousands of other apps launched every month for a limited number of mentions and clicks on top industry websites. Getting around these PR roadblocks requires that you have a compelling story - one that captures the attention of both tech journalists and customers in your industry and leaves them wanting more.
So what makes a good story? Think about classic movies, and you’ll see common tropes emerge: the underdog hero, the epic struggle and the ultimate reward. To translate this to a business context, Carolyn O’Hara, writing for the Harvard Business Review, recommends drawing on your own experiences:
The best storytellers look to their own memories and life experiences for ways to illustrate their message. What events in your life make you believe in the idea you are trying to share?
Craft your apps story around your own experiences and what led you to develop it in the first place. Think of how Uber’s story evolved out of the challenge of hailing a cab in San Francisco or how Airbnb’s founders believed there had to be a better way to secure lodging than relying on the hotel industry. Your story doesn’t have to be a sob story or an epic tale - it just has to resonate, emotionally, with the experiences of your end users.
Start with a compelling story, or with any of the other tips on this list. You don’t have to implement them all, but the more of these actions you take, the more you’ll save when it comes to launching your new app.
Now that you know all the advantages crowdsourced testing offers, check out the benefits it can bring to your business.
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