4 Risks You’ll Face when Creating a Custom App (Plus Strategies for Guaranteeing ROI)
This article outlines four risks businesses face when creating a custom app, plus strategies for mitigating risk to ensure a worthwhile return on investment.
Creating a custom app is risky business. Time and resources must be invested up front before you can generate a return–without the right strategies in place, that return is never guaranteed.
In the past decade, software projects across the nation have been reported to fail 7 out of 10 times. Among other factors, we blame this industry trend on a lack of awareness among both businesses and developers about the risks associated with creating a custom app, as well as the strategies that will effectively overcome those risks.
Risk #1: Final Product Misses the Mark Due to Communication Failure
Communication failure is common in custom app development. It can be extremely difficult for the business client, designers and developers to all have the same interpretation of product vision and expectations.
In 2012, a frustrated reader asked the Quora forum, “Why are most developers so bad at communication?” Author and programmer, Marcus Geduld, responded with an insightful and well-rounded answer that has earned 3.2K views.
He loosely compares the challenge developers and business people experience in communicating with each other to the following situation:
“Imagine the captain of a pirate ship telling his crew to, ‘Go to the island and dig up the treasure chest.’ The crew will demand to know where they should dig, because it’s a big island. The captain, used to doing broader-based things, like attacking ships, will be tempted to say, ‘I don’t know. Just start digging.’ Then he’ll be upset when his crew takes three weeks before finding the treasure.”
Designers, developers and their clients approach app development from varying contexts and with different pieces of information. This can create all sorts of misunderstandings on the same team.
You’ll need to find an app design and development partner who is not only aware of common communication challenges that occur when creating a custom app, but who also has a plan in place for overcoming them. They should incorporate the following activities into their service:
- Taking considerable time, especially at the beginning of the project, to demonstrate an understanding of your business goals and the context and purpose of your product idea
- Conducting decision-making conversations with you about your product design that center around user research and test results rather than opinions
- Frequent check-ins throughout product development to update you on progress, budget and timeline
Next, as a client it’s important to enter into product development projects with the following attitude:
- Be prepared to work at communicating your ideas to your design and development partner
- Expect to not be perfectly understood right away, and allow for the back-and-forth exchange of ideas that leads to mutual understanding
- Expect to have user research challenge your assumptions about the best direction for your product
When creating a custom app, the best way to avoid misunderstandings among clients, designers and developers is to align all expectations and ideas around what can be proven to work or not work for the end user.
Finally, keep in mind that at the end of the day, all disagreements can be settled by choosing the path that will most elevate the end user’s experience.
Risk #2: Becoming Overly Dependent on a Development Company
You may have a great idea for an app, but if your design and development partner fails to execute properly, you could be stuck with a product that continues to suck time and resources way beyond the launch date. This could take the form of ongoing, unresolved bugs, the need for constant manual input to run a system, or frequent issues that require users to call in for tech support on a regular basis.
Make sure you find a design and develop partner who will equip you for steady, seamless growth–not handicap your growth with clunky software that leaves you dependent on their specialized knowledge to move forward with day-to-day business.
Here are some key characteristics to look for in a custom app development company that will launch you forward rather than hold you back:
- Technical expertise to create a product that runs on its own and requires minimal maintenance
- Emphasis on user research and UX design for creating intuitive products that don’t require a technical “interpreter”
- Culture that prioritizes your financial return as the end goal, understanding that financial return hinges on whether an app succeeds with end users
- Design and development processes that reinforce business goals
Risk #3: Not Getting Your Money’s Worth with Too-Busy Developers
Some companies cut corners by assigning their developers work on several different projects at the same time.
Would you rather have a specialist on your team giving their 100% undivided attention to your project, or are you okay with them only offering 75% to your project because they’re overstretched? Your app is precious and costs you a lot of money to produce. The last thing you want is a lack of concentration from someone on the team on a critical part of your app’s development.
To avoid becoming a second thought, find a design and development partner who will devote talent exclusively to your project.
Risk #4: Creating a Custom App That Doesn’t Sell
You may be saying to yourself, “Hey! It’s 2018. Of course, everyone user-tests!” The reality is that many businesses and development companies skip user research and usability testing entirely, jumping straight into development without any sense of whether or not the end product will actually succeed with end users.
Bottom line: If your app fails to efficiently accomplish what users want it to, and in a way that generates revenue for your company, then consider it a waste of time and money.
According to a Compuware study referenced in Inc., a whopping 80 to 90% of apps are downloaded, used once and then uninstalled. Technical issues that resulted in poor user experience were the number one reason users removed apps!
Prevent this from happening with rigorous usability testing on a working prototype before you begin developing. Vet design and development companies based on whether or not they routinely incorporate this step into their projects.
Ensure a Worthwhile Return on Your App Investment
Custom application development services are relatively easy to come by. Just do a Google search, and you’ll see hundreds of shops and freelancers advertising their services. Not everyone knows or cares about the risks you’re taking creating a custom app.
For the highest return on investment, select the right partner who will take ownership of your business goals, invest in strategy and design before development, work with complete transparency, and who has the experience and skill to make it all happen.
>> Discover custom software development that enables business to scale.