‘How much does an app like Uber cost?’ is one of the most common questions we get asked. Surprisingly, such a question is not just from individuals but also from senior professionals in startups and established companies. The question signifies two things: (a) an indication of what is a golden standard in app design (a good thing) and (b) a reflection of the approach towards app building – to arrive at some sort of ‘market price’ for a popular app, to get a ballpark estimate of one’s own app (a not-so-good thing). The fact is, deep down, product managers know that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in mobile app development, as with any business. Yet the default expectation is to get a premium app at economy pricing.
Many startups (and even established businesses) depend heavily on customer experience delivered through the mobile device for business success. The mobile experience is make-or-break for them. But does that reflect in the process of mobile experience development? Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is no. There is usually some casualness when it comes to the briefing, expectations, and price-value when it comes to app development.
So how can businesses get the best out of mobile app development and make their respective ecosystems better? First, consider your app development company as a partner and not as a vendor. Ideally, involve the partner from the very beginning – right at the conceptual stage of the mobile experience development. Second, if you expect business-building ideas and strategy, then expect to pay a fair price for it. Third, ensure both quality and quantity of the team you choose to work with. And finally, go back to the basics occasionally.
Businesses must realize that crafting a strategy to revamp or refine an existing product itself is a service and requires deep involvement from all the stakeholders. We have worked with several early-stage startups that expect us to work with them as partners from inception to execution. Even with established companies and startups, we have had briefs to ‘look at our existing product and come up with ideas to take it to the next level’. This helps us visualize their concept and deliver results in accordance to their strategic goals. It comes as no surprise that in cases where we had participation from all stakeholders, the execution has been successful and the results have surpassed expectations.
I would like businesses to believe in the benefits of paying a premium. We understand the constraints of startups and other businesses when it comes to paying for mobile app services. But think of it as investment, which is bound to give a great ROI in terms of customer experience, acquisition and retention.
We know it is important to work with the right talent when you give out such a crucial part of your business such as app design. For this you need to ascertain not only the quality of talent that your development partner has to offer, but also ensure that they have enough bandwidth to dedicate to the project. However, we feel that businesses in India need to trust their tech & creative partners a bit more. Hence, an important piece of advice will be to not micromanage.
Finally, in a hurry to deliver the next version of the mobile product, sometimes we tend to forget re-visiting the basics. At our DesignNext workshops, where we share design principles and our learnings with product managers, we find tremendous enthusiasm and response. I would urge businesses to invest in training their engineering & design talent.
I strongly believe that consumers across categories are a lot more demanding than they were just a few years ago when it comes to ‘experiences’ of any kind – digital or offline. A benchmark in one category has an impact on unrelated categories – an Uber-like experience is not just demanded of other car hire apps; it has an impact on every digital experience, even for shopping. This has put tremendous demand and pressures on the app production machinery. We feel that the ecosystem is in need of an overhaul – mostly in the form of attitudes. Small changes in the way we work can go a long way in making the mobile ecosystem better for all the stakeholders