Building a mobile app is just like starting a business. And before you start a business, you must do your research, understand what you’re delving into and take a massive leap of faith. But when researching the app development space, your Google search results will be filled with conflicting information from different ‘experts’ and providers from all over the globe. Having built and delivered over 100 mobile apps across 30 different industries, it’s fair to say we’ve seen a lot. I’ve bundled together all of these projects and identified the top 5 biggest misconceptions people have when it comes to building software products. My main motivation for this article is to deliver a clear source of truth to those who are exploring the app space and considering investing their heart, soul and precious resources into it. I hope you get some value and enjoy it….
I’ll be the first person to admit that app development requires a lot of planning and time. However, calling it ‘expensive’ is a throwaway comment. App development is very much an investment, similar to how you would invest in a business or a home.
It really gets me when people simply label something as ‘Expensive’. Starbucks is expensive if you compare it to instant coffee…but Starbucks offers a completely different experience, so is it really expensive? A Ferrari is expensive compared to a Toyota Corolla, they both have four wheels and take you from A to B. But how does the driver of the Ferrari feel?
These examples are exactly the same as custom app development. Yes, app development is expensive compared to printing flyers or building a DIY website. But how does a custom-built app make you, your clients or employees feel? And does it solve a problem that can’t be solved by any other means?
The key question to ask yourself is “How much are you willing to invest to achieve your goals and gain a return on investment”. Many people believe that app development is expensive because they simply don't see a return on their investment. I believe that you should analyse the app development company you decide to invest in as if they are going to be your business partners. Would you purchase a $1 Million business if you didn’t have access to the accounts, couldn’t speak to the employees and didn’t know the previous owner? Before labelling app development as expensive, it’s worthwhile answering some of these questions, and pinpointing exactly what you are aiming to achieve from this journey.
We are constantly asking our clients the question “Where is the best place to be investing your time”? Our development team has extensive knowledge of all things apps, websites, databases and APIs. So would it make sense for our clients to be investing their time here or does it make more sense for them to be working on the things that they’re best at e.g. marketing, sales, account management etc?
When it comes to the actual development of an app, it is quite a comprehensive process. However, to create a successful software product, we follow two key pillars for success:
I’ll chat a little more about collaboration later in the article… Momentum (or a lack of it) in my opinion, is the biggest killer to building a successful software product. As soon as you start to lose momentum, development slows, timeframes increase and the project seems to drag out. It’s for this reason that we set an internal goal to release all of our apps (The first version) within a maximum of 6 months. Any longer than 6 months and we feel things start to slow down and lose momentum. The great thing about our 6-month deadline is that it forces us to focus on the crucial features that are required in your first release. We don’t get stuck developing features that aren’t 100% required for the day you launch. Also, don’t get me wrong, if we can launch an app within 2 months, we’ll 100% do so. 6 months just acts as a nice deadline.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of app development comes with testing and bug fixing. It’s by far one of the most important stages of building an app but can also be a time-consuming process. We recently identified this as one of our main challenges here at Moonward and set ourselves on the mission to completely re-engineer the app testing process. Here are a few steps to streamline the process and ensure that testing and bug fixing doesn’t blow out timeframes:
Building a clear blueprint: You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint so why would you build an app without a plan? Whether it’s a small internal software product or an app that’s going out to millions of people, we always start by building a blueprint. The blueprint ensures that we know exactly what needs to be developed, you know exactly what’s going to be delivered and our team of engineers know exactly how they are going to build your solution. You can read about our step-by-step blueprint process here.
Writing tests in our code: As a development team, we want to be as proactive as possible. Nothing is more important than writing testing inside our code. This allows our development team to identify any bugs or issues before they get into production (The app you and your users see). Tests are the developers' version of a safety net, they catch any issues and throw an error to explain what’s broken before anyone else sees it.
Early and Constant Releases: Some app developers won’t provide their clients with access to a product until everything has been ‘completed’ and it’s ready to go live. In our eyes, this is a major ‘no-no’. We want our clients to have access to their apps as early as possible. This ensures that the product is not only heading in the right direction but you’re able to test the product whilst we are developing. Not only speeding up the testing process but making the development journey much more engaging and enjoyable for our clients.
Systemised Bug Tracking: Historically our clients have used spreadsheets, email, Google Sheets, WhatsApp, Slack etc., to provide us with screenshots and bugs. We identified that this was really time-consuming for our clients and just as time-consuming for our team to collate the data. It’s for this reason, that we decided to build our own bug tracking software called Fault. This simple app allows our clients to take screenshots of bugs, issues or feature requests and lodge them directly inside our bug tracking system. Our development team is then able to methodically review each request and action point in a systemised manner. No need for spreadsheets, texts, emails or WhatsApp groups!
When it comes to app creation, it’s very common for developers to indirectly overcomplicate a product. You see, software developers love writing code but writing code isn’t always the best solution to a problem. Here at Moonward, we call this ‘developer knowledge’ vs ‘business knowledge’. Our #1 priority as a development team is to focus on solving our client's problems and achieving their goals. This often comes in the form of ‘Business Knowledge’. In simple terms, this can be described as truly understanding the problem we are trying to solve and finding the most streamlined way to develop a solution.
Products tend to become more complex as the amount of code increases. This concept is similar to how we use food to fuel our bodies. The more food we eat, the more energy we have to fuel our bodies for the day. However, it gets to a point of diminishing returns and if we consume too much food beyond our body's requirements we gain fat. It’s exactly the same with software, if we write too much code to try and solve problems, products become slow, sluggish and hard to maintain.
Yes, writing code is complicated but by writing straightforward solutions that solve our key business problem, we can minimise the fat! And avoid unnecessary complications.
From my experience, the profitability of any business doesn't always come down to the technology, location or price point. It generally comes down to the determination of the person running the business and their commitment to achieving amazing results.
It’s funny, every week someone approaches Moonward and claims that they want to be the next ‘Uber for XYZ. But do you really want to create a business that emulates Uber? In 2022 alone, Uber has lost nearly $2 Billion, yep Billion… Don’t get me wrong, I love Uber and use it almost every day. But $2 Billion… really?
The truth is that software businesses and software products can be extremely profitable. Depending on the type of software you are building and the market you are pushing your product out to (E.g., B2B, B2C etc.), there is a huge market for scale and profitability.
We recently put together a comprehensive budgeting tool to outline this point in much more depth. You can access our free budgeting template here. Once your software product has been developed, the great news is that your overheads are relatively fixed and pretty low. You don’t have to worry about stock, office leases, large payrolls and all the headaches that a traditional brick-and-mortar business brings.
On top of this, the most common revenue model for software businesses is a subscription model. This model is extremely attractive and when you start running the numbers, you realise quite quickly how subscription-based products generate extreme numbers in revenue.
Take this as an example, let's say you have a subscription-based mobile app. You’re charging customers $19.99 per month. If you’re able to market and advertise your app uniquely and get 1,000 paying customers. Your business is now generating $20k per month and almost a quarter of a million in annual revenue… That’s just a thousand people, what happens if you have 10,000? $200k per month and $2m per year. In 2020 Tinder announced they have 75 Million users on their platform. As the saying goes, build it and they will come.
Similar to my other points in this article, building a profitable software product really depends on how you approach it. Here at Moonward, we’re all about building, launching and scaling profitable software businesses. We focus on solving challenging problems with software that works, looks amazing and delivers a groundbreaking experience, it’s as simple as that!
Every single client that works with Moonward understands that our whole development team is 100% in-house. And we’ve deliberately built our business to ensure that remains the case.
When I originally started in the app development space, I was a fresh-faced startup developer, looking for someone with technical skills to believe in me. Guess what I found? Tech geeks who had no interest in learning about my ideas and offshore developers who just wanted to get paid and get out.
I quickly realised that my mission was not only to build great software but it was also to completely revolutionise the way businesses and startups work with software developers. My #1 focus became changing the stigma of software development agencies.
We made the decision to grow 100% in-house for a few different reasons. One of the most important aspects of building a successful software product is collaboration and communication. Every single day our developers, designers and project managers are collaborating on ideas, solutions, concepts, new technologies and the list goes on and on. By having everyone under the same roof, we’re adamant that projects move faster, we get more shit done and our clients can actually chat with the people who are doing the work!!
You see, that’s one of the biggest problems with the tech space… Offshore development teams usually hire a project manager or an account manager to do all of the communication and client-facing work. Whilst in the background a development team is furiously working away writing code... But there is one major challenge with this, communication and collaboration become Chinese Whispers. The client asks for one thing, the project manager feeds this information down the development pipeline and six weeks later the client receives an apple instead of an orange.
We’re breaking this approach to bring back the relationship between clients and developers. Our clients actually have direct access to our development team, they can chat with them, ask them questions and heck some of our clients even learn how to code with the support of our team!
To put it simply, you can progress a project up to 30% faster with an integrated Australian design and development team. Our team has a shared culture, vision, work ethic, quality benchmark, and a sense of fun.
Still not convinced that App development is worth your time and energy?
Take a leap of faith and jump on a free 30 Minute App Strategy call.
My main motivation for this article is to deliver a clear source of truth to those who are exploring the app space and considering investing their heart, soul and precious resources into it.
October 19, 2022
Here at Moonward, we don’t just specialise in mobile apps and web apps, we focus on the entire digital ecosystem for our clients. This also means your sales website.
February 15, 2023