Five of the Best Places to Find a Freelance Android Mobile App Developer

The industry for freelance Android mobile app developer is vast. It is hard to identify the right resources that can convert your idea into a speedy, user-friendly app. Here are five of the best places to find a freelance mobile developer.

1. helps organizations expand their existing teams in a short period. On average, it can connect you with a reliable developer within 48 hours. The platform sources, vets, and compares the credentials and skills of numerous applicants for your team. It is an ideal platform for North American companies because 90% of its freelance community lives in the U.S. This means that you don’t have to worry about the common time zone issues associated with other platforms. You may have to pay somewhere around $75 and $150 per hour to an Android developer on

2. Hired

Hired is a job marketplace where employers compete fiercely to hire mobile developers. Due to the strict vetting process of the platform, only the top 5% freelancers managed to get hired. The platform saves a great amount of time for companies. It matches the skills and talent of developers with the job description. You can find several senior mobile developers with sufficient experience and expertise. Additionally, it provides freelancers for project-based, contractual, and full-time work. Overall, hiring is quite efficient and saves close to 50 hours for a job role. Additionally, you get to work with professionals who are well-versed in meeting deadlines.

3. Toptal

Toptal stands for Top Talent, and it allows only the top 3% of aspirants, who apply as freelancers, to join the platform. If you need the best developers, you can reach out to a pool of professionals who can deliver premium-quality work. Usually, Toptal is known to provide value for money—at times, you get more than what you paid for. There are two fronts for which Toptal has received positive feedback. Firstly, the platform is highly transparent, whether it is the fees or any other aspect of the platform. Secondly, it stands out due to its exemplary customer-oriented model. For example, a Toptal representative is always on the lookout to track the progress of your app. For part-time app developers, you need to pay $1000-$1500 per week while mobile app developers might ask for $2000-3000 per week.

4. Fiverr Pro

Fiverr is a well-known platform for developers looking for freelance work. It connects vetted software engineers with companies. Freelance Android mobile developers with the topmost ratings are given the ‘Pro’ status. This means that only 1% of candidates go on to achieve Pro status. Typically, employers post jobs worth $1,400 or more on this platform.

5. X-Team

On X-Team, you can find both Android and iPhone application developers for your projects. It screens programmers based on coding quality and performance, especially how fast they execute projects. Also, it evaluates if these professionals can tackle a wide variety of problems. This way, you can use the platform to form a talented and agile team. Moreover, with developers available for eight different time zones, the platform can serve organizations all over the world.

Consider These 4 Things Before Using an Offshore Team for Mobile App Development

The landscape of mobile applications and the cost of apps are growing at an astronomic rate. This development has sparked the creation of an extensive list of mobile apps all around the world. Every company is looking to develop a mobile app to connect better with its customer base.

Many businesses rely on offshore teams to create an app. The biggest reason behind the use of an offshore mobile development team is a steep reduction in the cost of an app. Although offshore software developers can turn out to be cost-effective, it is important to remain cautious of the pitfalls too.

1. Talent

One of the most common risks with offshore mobile app development is the uncertainty with talent levels. At times, you do get in touch with a coding genius, but in other cases, the developer might not turn out to be a klutz. Therefore, it is tricky to determine the talent of a mobile app developer residing in another country.

You may even come across a developer who recently went to a coding boot camp. Online learning is an excellent source of knowledge, but an app developer is not worth hiring if they lack sufficient experience in the field.

2. Schedules

The difference in time zones might occur as a minor hiccup in the beginning, but it can affect the project deadline in the long run. An overlap of work hours between offshore and onshore teams can range from two to four hours.

When offshore developers fail to contact with the onshore team, it does not bode well for the project. All teams require the opportunity to get to know each other and ask relevant questions. If schedules are not aligned properly, the focus is lost and teams stray towards bad communication.

3. Poor Communication

When offshore developers cannot communicate effectively online or on the phone due to linguistic barriers, it can severely diminish the chances of your app’s success. Make sure that, before you hire any offshore mobile app developers, you have a lot of conversations with them on different topics over the email, phone, and direct messaging.

4. Control

Frustrations are likely to run amok when you work with offshore mobile developers. It is hard to bring the customer and the offshore team on the same page. Deadlines, demands, and expectations are often set incorrectly. The onshore team might identify an issue with an offshore developer, but the offshore team may have reservations against such decisions. As a result, a developer might succeed in staying on the project even if the project owner is against them.

Moreover, legal action is a leading challenge. Laws and regulations might work differently in the country of your offshore developers when compared to the laws of your country. Therefore, in case of legal action, you can be at a disadvantage. Hence, certain risks are inherent offshore mobile developers who live in a separate jurisdiction.

Final Thoughts

Hiring offshore mobile developers is not as easy as some people think it is. There are many factors that you need to take into consideration. Although there are some triumphant cases too, they are few and far between. Therefore, it is recommended to have your app designed via a US-based development team. As such, you can send us a message to develop the next big app.

Where to Find the Early Adopters for Your MVP?

So you’ve recently designed an MVP, but what’s the next step? What should you do next? Now is the time to look for early adopters or your first groups of loyal users. However, most users don’t embrace innovations easily. Early adopters, also known as lighthouse customers, only make up 13% of the total user base. They offer valuable feedback that helps entrepreneurs refine and improve their apps in various aspects. Here are a few ideas on where to find the early adopters for your MVP.

1. Landing Pages

People who visit your webpage or connect with you through another online channel are often directed to your landing page. You can leverage this marketing strategy to explain the features of your products and compel your target audience to sign up. This way, you can use them to test your MVP.

Traditionally, landing pages get a bad rap. In many cases, marketers merely utilize them as email capture pages. On the contrary, when appropriately designed, they carry the potential to test your MVP thoroughly. For example, you can use them to find out which of your features are more popular between the two and how do your users view your pricing plans.

Kate Rutter, the Co-Founder of Luxr, believes that landing pages are an excellent means to “sell first, build later.” Although there are many promising analytics tools, Google Analytics is a smart choice. Use this tool to collect the visitor metrics of your landing pages.

Afterward, you can perform A/B tests to monitor the changes in your product. Observe how users react to your product specifics, such as when you add a specific feature.

2. Fundraising

Not many people are aware that Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and other crowdfunding websites are terrific platforms to attract prospective customers to your MVP. Many users determine the market response of an MVP by measuring how much funds did the company raise.

Pro-tip: Successful fundraising campaigns often involve rewarding people with incentives.

3. Explainer Videos

The correct use of text and images work wonders, but modern-day digital consumption is highly biased towards videos. According to HubSpot, 81% of companies use videos for marketing. Seek inspiration from the cloud storage giant Dropbox. Dropbox generated a lot of buzz when it sold its MVP via an explainer video. The 3-minute video demonstrated the functionality of Dropbox with easy-to-understand content. As a result, it spread across 70,000 viewers overnight. What made Dropbox’s MVP standout from the rest was that its video was more of a step-by-step guide than a marketing gimmick. As a result, user engagement soared.

4. Blogs

Blogs are one of the most popular tools to validate ideas of your MVP. You can flesh out your ideas and earn support from a community of readers and followers. This participation can help you gain further momentum and obtain customer feedback on your MVP development.

5. Digital Prototypes

Today, you can design prototypes, mockups, and wireframes on the web to showcase your MVP’s intended functionality. Make a dummy app and share it on your digital marketing channels. This tactic can allow your target audience to know what your MVP is all about.

Final Thoughts

The process of building an MVP is an intensive one due to its iterative nature, and it requires a great deal of energy and time. Therefore, it is essential to avoid getting bogged down because of irrelevant details and maintain your attention to create a high-quality MVP. Once you develop it, the methods mentioned above can allow you to acquire your first adopters.

The Risks And Benefits Of Offshore Software Development

We live in an age of burgeoning technology – in an age where rockets are re-useable, cars drive themselves, and watches keep track of our pulse, it’s easy to imagine that developing a mobile application by partnering with an offshore development team would be easy to manage.

With VoIP technologies like Google Hangouts, instant communication platforms like Slack, and project management tools like Trello, it would seem that we’ve reached a truly global era in business and the development of products.

And in many respects, this is true – plentiful and vast industries exist today either due to the existence of global production and supply industries, or rely on the global market that fuels today’s global economy for resources, customers, or both. Many of the rare earth metals that make phones, watches, laptops, or virtually any electronic device come from regions in Africa or Australia – without a global supply line, none of us would have phones – or be reading this blog, for that matter.

What I’m trying to convey is that we do live in the future – it just isn’t to the point where we can collaborate on the level that mobile app development requires, while communicating on a global scale.

The myth of offshore development

There’s plenty of misinformation about offshore development – the main one being the quality of code. A good developer is a good developer no matter where they are or what language they speak (but they’d better know their programming languages) – offshore developers aren’t bad at what they do.

While it’s very true that applications developed by offshore companies can lead to unsustainable codebases, low-grade products, or un-deployable platforms, developers in India or Ukraine can be just as experienced (or inexperienced) as developers in Japan or the US.

The problem isn’t people – it’s the communication of ideas.

Complicated ideas and concepts are difficult enough to understand when they are presented to us in person – just think of how many companies today struggle with disseminating and promoting company culture amongst their own employees – communicating the “feel” of a company’s mission is a challenging task.

And with the addition of different time zones, and distances measured in the thousands-of-miles, communicating the high-level, detailed concepts that are crucial to the decisions of app development can become a nightmare.

So if you’re in the UK, hire a UK development team – and if you’re in Bangladesh, hire a Bengali development team. The most important preliminary step to a successful app is a throughly-vetted development partner; a company that you can trust to deliver a full-fledged product, and trust to understand the mission of your app.

risk and reward of offshore mobile app development

Research the risk & reward of offshore development

The benefits of offshore development

There are benefits to making use of offshore development companies:

  1. Cost: Development companies almost universally charge based on an hourly rate. Developers in countries with a lower cost of living will report lower hourly rates than high-cost-of-living countries. While a developer’s rate in the US may range from $100 – $150, a developer in Asia would range from $20 – $50. If managed properly, this can lead to significant savings.
  2. Quality: “Quality” could just as easily be listed in the “risks” section of this blog. By hiring an offshore developer that lives in a country with a lower cost of living, you stand the chance of getting a high-quality product for a fraction of the cost of a highly-skilled developer in your country.
  3. Cultural insight: This is the most substantial benefit to hiring an offshore development team. If you are targeting a market in Sri Lanka, you should hire a development team from the region. The insight the team will bring to the design choices of your app will help your app feel familiar to your specific audience, and increase its chances of market penetration.

The risks of offshore development

Despite these benefits, there are many more opportunities for the risks associated with offshore development to take hold.

  1. Hidden costs: While offshore development does come with a lower hourly rate, this is more often than not negated by the fact that development will usually take twice as long. The main reason for this is…
  2. Communication: Couple language barriers with high-latency internet connections and having a verbal conversation with your team in a different country, and communication can become a real challenge. Communicating the technical aspects of an issue a developer is working on can be downright impossible sometimes. For systems that require integrated maintenance provided from your own IT department, clear and efficient communication is a necessity.
  3. Management: For many of the same reasons as communication, managing an offshore team can be an organizational nightmare. It is recommended to hire a project manager that is local to your offshore team, and will work to bridge the time difference your development team and your company will experience.
  4. Data privacy, security, and governmental regulation: As unfortunate as it is, it’s necessary to be wary of IP theft when dealing with offshore developers, which makes it especially vital to throughly research your development partner. If a developer in another country steals your intellectual property, there is very little recourse available to you. Security and privacy are two other pressing concerns when utilizing offshore codebases – some countries’ intelligence agencies will work with developers to include backdoor access in order to extract users’ personal data for means of cyber espionage. 

Hourly rate, time, and scale

These are the variables to the equation for determining the cost of your app; the more time it takes to develop, the cost rises… the higher the hourly rate, the cost rises… the larger the scale of your app, again, the cost rises.

hourly rate time and scale to develop a mobile app offshore

Consider hourly rate, time and scale

When comparing the cost of developing an app using an offshore developer versus an onshore developer, the key factor is time. While an offshore developer’s hourly rate will usually be lower than an onshore developer, developing an app with an offshore developer is a longer process – sometimes adding two or three times the amount of total hours to develop. This discrepancy in development length is usually exacerbated by communication issues and time-zone differences, and in turn, significantly reduces the savings of the lower hourly rate of offshore development. 

By increasing your time to market, your app’s chances of success will lower, and by increasing the chances of miscommunication, your app’s codebase has the possibility of being less robust than an app developed onshore – leading to the necessity of almost immediately updating your app as soon as it hits the App Store or Google Play.

With these factors in mind, the cost of developing an app offshore or onshore usually even out – and while either option comes with their own benefits, the risk of miscommunication is a factor every CTO or team lead should consider when deciding between offshore or onshore app development.

MVP Waterfall vs. Agile In Mobile App Development

MVP Waterfall vs. Agile Method

Decoding the difference between the waterfall and agile methods in mvp development

Which is better the MVP Waterfall or Agile method? You may have heard these words come up in conversation if you are considering getting your MVP developed. Building the product which you have interpreted to your app development team is critical. Knowing how it will be executed really matters to have a successful MVP. 

So let’s dive in, before agile development was adopted most software products were actually developed using what is called the “Waterfall approach” Waterfall is also referred to as a “big design up front” (BDUF) approach. A key aspect of using the MVP Waterfall approach in mobile app development is that the team does not progress until the previous step is 100% complete. Meaning, no design happens until all of the requirements are defined, and no coding happens until the entire product is designed. (Olsen, 2015) 

Essentially it proceeds sequentially through a series of steps, gathering and analysis, system design, development, integration and testing, deployment, and maintenance, in that order.

Waterfall Model

The waterfall Model illustrates the software development process in a linear sequential flow (Source: sdlc waterfall model)

Conversely with the now popular Agile methodology, the product is broken down into smaller pieces that undergo shorter cycles of requirements definition, design, and coding. Unlike with the Waterfall method, the developers can begin to code before the design elements have been completed. Instead of following a rigid plan, Agile focuses on flexibility and promotes quick responses to change. 

Which MVP Method Is Better Agile Or Waterfall?

The answer to that question depends on the type of MVP. Typically the Waterfall method is good for larger projects or smaller projects that are very defined. Agile methods are great to get deliverables out to customers much faster. With the agile method there is also constant dialogue between the MVP development team and the customer. Yet this does not mean that the Waterfall method is not the way to go to complete the project. Depending on the type of project, this type of attention to detail and refinement is needed to create a minimum viable product which has the least amount of error known and unknown as possible. 

For example think about the mini-van, who could fathom sending a family down the highway in a not nearly completed mini-van MVP? Checking and rechecking the design and requirements with this kind of scope can make the MVP Waterfall method the best way to handle certain projects. However what is fantastic about the Agile process is in every stage the customer is front of mind. At the end of any Agile project, what you have is a working product that the customer can use. 

Breaking Down MVP Waterfall vs. Agile Methods Key Benefits

Benefits of using the Agile MVP Method:

  • The agile method is based on breaking down the project into smaller increments, the development team can react to changes in the market or other new information more quickly.
  • Your product reaches the customer earlier, meaning you can begin to start receiving customer feedback sooner. Which will assist with guiding subsequent product development efforts. 
  • A team can also reduce the margin of error if they are working on the project in smaller increments, allowing them to see issues as they arise much sooner than they would if they waited. 
  • The agile method encourages a mindset to software development focused on creating value for customers.
Agile Model

Illustration of the agile model (Source: sdlc agile model)

Benefits of using the Waterfall MVP Method:

  • Perfect for customers who know exactly what they want.
  • The waterfall process model is very simple to understand and use
  • Phases are processed and completed one at a time
  • Well understood milestones
  • The waterfall Model illustrates the software development process in a linear sequential flow. This means that any phase in the development process begins only if the previous phase is complete. In this waterfall model, the phases do not overlap. (source: sdlc, waterfall model)

Quick Note About The MVP Waterfall Method 

With the MVP Waterfall method it is important to note that once the project is underway and in the testing phase, it is very difficult to go back and change something that was not well thought out or well documented in the conception stage of the project. If you are going to choose the Waterfall method for the development of your MVP it is important that you remember to communicate any changes or new developments before going into the testing environment. 

For an entrepreneur or business owner who has a pre-determined set of requirements, knows exactly what they want from the mobile app they plan to have developed, the Waterfall method may in fact be the best way to go. The Waterfall method is also very useful with enterprise projects. 

If you are trying to decide which method will best fit your needs call and set up a consultation with us: HERE,  Let’s Talk!

Reported from Clutch – NS804 Apps’ client rating is 4.9 out of 5 stars

At NS804, our team of motivated engineers provides full-service mobile application development, specializing in native iOS and Android mobile app development. Since 2012, NS804 has produced more than 100 apps.

As a result of our dedicated service to customer satisfaction, partnerships, personalized digital strategy, and informed design, NS804 has earned a reputation for our tailor-made developments, according to Clutch.

Through Clutch, our clients have rated us a 4.9 out of 5 based on their experiences with us from their app development’s start to completion. Our firm, based in Virginia, strives to be your partner and your developer – when you succeed, we succeed – so your success is always our number one priority. Your input and vision for the app we help bring to life is highly valued by our team, as we aim to ensure that you understand the front and backend processes of your app.

Clutch, a respected Washington D.C. B2B business, ratings and reviews platform that provides firm suggestions and buying recommendations to a plethora of businesses through its ranking system based on collected objective client feedback, seeks to ensure that the best value is given through their in-depth analysis of this data.

Our past clients only have good things to say about their experiences with NS804, highlighting our responsive communication, pride in our work, guidance from start to launch, and a lot more.

In one of our most recent reviews, the founder of Carpe Diem Social LLC said, “[NS804’s] team does a great job of turning around last-minute requests,” showing our dedication to our clients and willingness to accommodate you however we can.

It’s feedback such as this that means the world to us – if there’s anything we can do to help our partners succeed, we’re on it.

Clutch Profile

The Manifest, a sister blog site of Clutch, featured our team in Richmond as a top 2 app developer in Virginia. We can help your business be one of the 32% of small businesses have a mobile app.

So what are you waiting for? Come create with us today. Contact us here.

Backend design

When I was younger – as in less-than-a-decade old – I wanted to be an architect. That was, until I learned about the existence of trigonometry, calculus, and all the higher-than-geometry level math I could never possibly hope to understand. I liked drawing houses and castles, not mathematically planning them.

Many professions, just like that of architect, necessitate the mastery of hidden skillsets or knowledge bases that the layperson isn’t aware of; the perfect example of this being backend developers. The title, and the topic that comes with it, is enough to make most people instantly glaze over – even some frontend developers will look for an excuse to escape from the conversation.

There’s a reason that this blog is titled “backend design,” however – a lot more design goes into backend development than you would think. Or, more accurately stated, a lot of design goes into architecting the backend.

Systems architecture

According to Introduction to Systems Architecture Design by Medium, backend architecture is “… a conceptual representation of the components and subcomponents that reflects the behavior of the system.”

In other words, backend design is architecting a structure for the frontend, user-facing data layer. It’s akin to designing a car – there’s just as much artistry necessary as engineering. Code is code is code – there’s nothing special about Ruby on Rails or Node.js. Once mastered, the language of the backend can be written just as fast as a frontend developer working in Swift or JavaScript.

Just as a good UI designer knows how to create a rectangle in Sketch, so to does a backend developer know how to build a NoSQL database: the true skill of design is knowing where to place that rectangle in order to create a pleasing layout, or how to organize data in order to minimize latency.

So know that when someone starts talking about systems architecture, they’re really talking about architecture, and less about code. And once this topic is broken down, it’s not that complicated (on a high-level, at least) to comprehend.

The backend can be broken down into three layers:

  1. Controllers – these handle client requests, such as when a user adds an item to their cart.
  2. Services – access data in the DAO layer, and send it back to the controller, which then sends the retrieved information to the client.
  3. Data Access Objects (DAO) – This is the layer where data can be stored, organized, and accessed.

Most often, these layers can be implemented by cloud providers; these platforms – like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure – will sell managed services like on-demand servers, or databases (in addition to many other services).

When someone speaks to the scalability of the cloud, this is what they’re referring to; “the cloud” is really a collection of remote servers that provide customers with ready-made backend infrastructure, giving companies the ability to increase their operations without needing to store, manage, and maintain servers physically on site.

Within these layers are components, of which we’ll cover the four most basic and widely-used:

  1. Virtual machines – Like most things in the world of computers, the moniker “virtual machine” is an apt descriptor of what VMs do; a VM is nothing but a computer simulated inside of a computer, much like a digital Russian nesting doll. When utilizing cloud providers, VMs will be hosted on larger servers that allocate the necessary CPU, RAM, SSD, and network bandwidth in order to run your VM – this exact process can be achieved on a personal computer as well. VMs run the operations of your backend.
  2. Load balancers – Run too many applications on your computer, and it’ll start to slow down. The same is true for your VMs in the cloud or on your local servers – too many client requests, and the time it takes to load a page can skyrocket. Your backend’s load balancer is designed to solve this problem: load balancers act as a medium between your backend’s controllers and services layer. Load balancers both interpret client requests from the controllers layer, and keep track of the health of VMs – and to ensure low latency client request, the load balancer distributes those client requests evenly between VMs.
  3. Databases – Databases are how your DAO layer is organized. There are two types of database structures: non relational (NoSQL), or relational (SQL). We’ll cover those a little bit below.
  4. Caches – The reason databases can have different structures is because certain databases are optimized for different types of data, in order to decrease the time it takes to access information. Caches are used for the same reason; during times of heavy traffic, caches can store data that is sure to be accessed in rapid succession by many clients, thus reducing the time it takes to complete client requests. Caches can be thought of as super-optimized, small databases.

Back it up

Before we get into anything more complicated, theres a few basic concepts we can go over now that we’ve covered the building blocks of the backend:

  1. Latency – This is the length of time it takes a client request to complete. Latency always refers to time.
  2. Bandwidth – This is the maximum amount of client requests (data) your server can handle.
  3. Throughput – This is the true amount of data your servers can handle. Often, during times of high traffic, bandwidth will drop as latency rises – this new measurement is called throughput.

In order to reduce latency and increase bandwidth, backend systems will be scaled up to process more client requests. This can be achieved via three different methods:

  1. Vertical scaling – This method reduces latency by increasing the amount of requests a single VM or physical server can handle by upgrading the CPU, RAM, or SSD of the machine.
  2. Horizontal scaling – Reduces latency by adding more VMs or physical servers, thereby increasing the number of client requests that can be handled at a given moment.
  3. Auto scaling – uses the same principle as horizontal scaling, but automates the process: VMs are added as they are needed, and deleted as client requests decrease. Both auto and horizontal scaling necessitate a load balancer.

Another design choice that can reduce latency is the type of database your DAO layer makes use of. As stated above, there are two types of database structures: SQL and NoSQL. While SQL databases are organized to write data in a very efficient manner; NoSQL databases are organized to read data quickly, but due to their structure, require duplicate data in order to access information.

You can think of a SQL database as a collection of tables that hold very specific, uniform sets of information, that link up in a web. NoSQL databases are structured in branches, which lead to other branches, which lead to other branches.


Both come with their pros and cons – NoSQL databases can access information faster, and are optimized for dealing with un-related sets of data. SQL databases are robust and optimized for dealing with requests that require relational data from various processes in your backend’s service layer.

Back in business

Just as a house would fall apart without the wooden structure, plumbing, wiring, and ventilation, so to would your website or application without its backend. It’s important to know what’s going on back there!

Stay tuned for our future look into scaling up your backend systems.

Why MVP for your mobile app?

Why do so many software products start out as MVPs?

The reason is due to the significant benefits MVP software brings to the development process: faster, more affordable development, and reliable, resourceful market validation. Essentially, a MVP is a quick method of validating your product via customer feedback. But before we get any further, let’s go over what “MVP” actually means.

MVP stands for:

Minimum – the minimum set of features a product can have while still remaining…

Viable – to provide value to customers, so they are willing to engage with the…

Product – which is ready to be used for consumption.

The development of technological products has always lent itself to that of a MVP – from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone to the 1998 startup named Google, MVPs have had a huge impact on the way users and products co-exist and co-benefit from each other.

Well-known MVPs

It wouldn’t be fair to say that the following products should still be considered MVPs presently – but rather that they started out that way, and over many iterations, have become the products, services, and platforms they are now.


Back when this social media giant was known as The Facebook in 2004, the product offered was most definitely a MVP. During its 1.0 phase, Facebook was a website available only to Harvard students – the intention behind this limited release was to collect feedback in order to create a more robust and user-friendly product. At this time, Facebook was nowhere near what it is today – the website comprised of a profile page, friend requests, and a “send message” feature.


The story of this internationally-used app is the perfect example of a successful MVP product. An idea thought up in 2007 when roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were unable to afford rent in the expensive real estate market of San Francisco, the app now known as Airbnb was originally a website by the name of

The site’s first listing (Chesky and Gebbia’s apartment living room) was a true MVP experience as well: an air mattress in a room, along with a cooked breakfast. These are the amenities users of the original site were offered. After the addition of Nathan Blecharczyk (the creator of the website) and the Industrial Design Conference of 2008 held in San Francisco created a need for extra lodging in the area, the company was able to host its first guest.

Now, the company is considering the possibility of opening its own airline. This is the power of MVP products; they can start out as a single air mattress in your apartment’s living room, and develop into international companies with revenues measured by billions of dollars.

There are many more MVP success stories, like that of Goupon, Amazon, Buffer, Snapchat, and others – but for now, let’s get into what makes a product a true MVP.

MVP theory

As previously stated above, a MVP is a product that provides users with the minimum set of features required to provide a marketable and consumable experience. When Bell invented the telephone in 1876, his product provided a usable method of long-distance communication, and not much else. His original telephone model required users to speak into a standing receiver, and hold another speaker to their ear – and after decades of feedback from customers, phones morphed from rotary, to corded and cordless, and eventually to cell and smartphones.

It is this evolution that is the hallmark of a MVP.

While MVPs do come with quicker development cycles (making it easier to beat competition to market, as well as capitalizing on untapped markets), the most beneficial aspect of a MVP is the direct customer validation.

The market (and your users) will very quickly determine if your product is viable. If the idea is interesting enough, or the solution to the pain point is useful enough, users will jump on board. Therefore, by the usage of a MVP, you can quickly and cheaply prove your validity on the market without wasting time and resources on preliminary marketing and focus groups.

The next step is the most important – listening and reacting to customer feedback. The idea behind a MVP isn’t to build a product with the minimal feature set and then leave it alone – AirBnb didn’t stop at a single air mattress, after all – it’s to create the foundation for a fully-fledged product, platform, or experience.

Take the feedback you receive from early adopters, and implement it – this creates a strong brand for two very important and distinct reasons: your company proves to customers that their voices are heard and matter, and customer-requested features ensure a UX that has been tested against multiple scenarios, environments, and use cases (and lacks any excess features your users don’t want).

MVPs prove your worth

With market validation comes revenue – which can then be used to present a case for your business to investors. After AirBnB’s debut in 2008, the company received their first round of seed money in 2009 from Y Combinator, and by 2010, had raised over $7 million. By 2014, the company was valued at $10 billion, and now, in 2019, boasts a valuation of $35 billion.

MVPs naturally lend themselves to the continual update cycles apps (and all software) are beholden to, and create an environment for meaningful, impactful improvements to your users’ experience. MVPs are more than just a quick way to develop an app – they provide you with the foundation to create a community based around your brand.

The language of app design

What message is your app’s design communicating to your users? Visual design (and UI design in this case specifically) has a language unto itself, and like it or not, your app’s users are reading between the lines.

Visual design is based upon universal principles easily understood by everyone. For example, below, you’ll see two arrows – one pointing left, and one pointing right (or starboard and port, if that floats your boat):

Now, which one is pointing forwards, and which one is pointing backwards?

Or, if we were to flip this idea on its side; based on the two arrows below, which is pointing north, and which is pointing south?

Almost instinctually, your brain knew the answers. You might have even made those visual associations before the questions were posed. These associations come from the language of visual design – taking a left turn in a car doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going backwards, just as walking up a staircase doesn’t mean you’re headed in a northernly direction – our brains only associate an arrow pointing left with the meaning of “backwards” in certain contexts.

This is why you don’t need to be a professional UI/UX designer to understand when an app “feels” wrong – our brains are trained to take in visual information in certain patterns, using standard hierarchies.

Take, for example, what happens when the same left arrow is placed next to the universal sign for “bathroom.”

All of a sudden, there’s no way this arrow means “backwards.” Visual design is precise, and the patterns our brains are trained to recognize mean something. If the design of your app isn’t getting the message across to your users, you’re severely shortchanging yourself, and your app’s chance at success.

Platform design principles

Just because there’s a universal language of design doesn’t mean everything looks the same (thank goodness). Both Apple and Google have their own design principles and schools of thought – those being the Human Interface Guidelines, and Material Design, respectively.

While these OS specific UI design guidelines do cover the more detailed aspects of design, such as typefaces and font use cases (those being San Francisco for iOS, and Roboto for Android), they mainly cover high-level design choices like those of hierarchy of information, menu placement and organization, and text alignment.

This is the reason it’s important to remain cognizant of which platform you are designing for, and why it’s bad practice to simply copy and past the design of an app when developing for both Android and iOS.

For example, iOS users will be familiar with the top menu on the left, and Android users will similarly find the top menu on the right to be familiar:

(Image from this blog by Cory McArthur)

If we were to simplify these design to their wireframe layouts, they would appear as such:

While both present network information, time, and battery usage at the top of this menu, they are located in different positions – both are easily understood, but use different design styles – iOS being making use of center-justified design, and Android left/right justification.

These design styles are made with the intention of being easy to understand – and while they both are, users come to learn and prefer the feel of either Human Interface or Material Design as they interact with either iOS or Android.

Design and user retention

There’s the old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” A saying such as this rings true because the cover doesn’t actually detract from the user’s experience while engaging with the book – the cover is the least-looked-at part of a book while being used.

The direct opposite is true of apps – a poorly-designed app will provide a subpar user experience. An app that suffers from poor design will be difficult to comprehend; and as such, the book’s equivalent of bad UX would be a novel printed with yellow ink on white pages.

According to this blog from Medium, a study conducted in Canada found that a poorly-designed platform actually makes accomplishing the task it was designed to complete more difficult than when compared to a well-designed platform.

It largely comes down to user psychology – a more pleasant experience puts the user into a better mood, which creates a more engaging experience for the user, which means they pay more attention to the app’s flow, which then improves their knowledge retention, which leads them to feel familiar with the app.

Before long, positive feelings are associated with the app – while this is largely dependent on the solution to the pain point the app provides, the experience of arriving at that solution can either be enhanced or tarnished by the UI of an app.

According to this user retention guide from CleverTap, the most important goal of user retention is to “create an immediate, immersive encounter with the app’s unique value.”

In order to do that, you’ll need to create a well-designed UI, so users feel drawn into the experience of your app. No one wants to look at an ugly app for long.

An overview of UI design

UI can be broken down into a few categories when it comes to the interactive design elements UI is created from: navigation, menus, and buttons. Graphics, despite adding significant value to an app’s UI, aren’t truly part of the interactive aspect of an app, other than symbols or icons that may be selected in a menu, such as a “home” button or “shopping cart” button.


  • Gestures: Gestures such as swiping or pinching provide tactile methods for users to navigate through, or engage with apps.
  • Screen transitions: Either modal (coming in from the bottom), or push (coming in from the side), screen transitions can simplicity explain if a user has moved on to the next step (push), or entered a sub-step (modal).


  • Bottom navigation bar: Mainly found in iOS app design, the bottom navigation bar provides an area that showcases all of the app’s navigation options to a user; for example, home, order, review, profile, and much more. Each icon will lead to a different screen, which can then be engaged with to progress through the flow of the app.
  • Hamburger menu: Mainly found in Android apps, the hamburger menu is named as such because it is denoted by a button with three horizontal lines stacked vertically over one another, creating a “hamburger.” This menu will usually expand from the button after being pressed, and is often a push transition.
  • Alerts: Alerts function as small menus, and will often “pop up” when the user has input an action the app must verify. For example, if a user were to clear their cart before completing an order, an alert would pop up, asking if the user indeed intended to clear out their cart, with the option of either pressing “yes” or “no.”


There are many types of buttons, but as their name implies, they all require the user the press them in order to function. Some common buttons found throughout app design are: share, add, switches, pickers, and checkboxes.

Next month, we’ll release a complete glossary of UI design terms for you – but if you’d like to continue learning about app design, check out our blogs, Five mobile app design ideas, and Top app design practices – 2019.

Custom inventory solutions for the enterprise level business

There are many inventory management solutions out there, but many are ill-suited to the reality of enterprise level environments that currently exist on legacy systems, or lack the ability to integrate with entrenched ITSM using languages like .NET.

For these reasons, and more (which we will cover below), a third party proprietary inventory management software system won’t make the cut when stacked up against the vast scale and needs of the enterprise level.

The scope of inventory management

Inventory management software can either be used as a standalone system, or integrated within your ERP. A basic inventory management system would provide tools used for:

  • Tracking products
  • Alerting when product levels are low
  • Barcode scanning
  • Generating accurate accounting and financial data

There are many free inventory management software platforms that will offer most of the features listed above, but few include barcode scanning, and many lack reports that can integrate into a larger ERP system – and all are limited to a set number of transactions – such as 100 products in total, or 20 orders every month.

For any additional features, or the ability to scale up, these free software platforms will charge monthly fees, usually dependent on the number of users, number of products being managed, and number of orders processed.

For any company that operates at a scale larger than that of a startup or boutique, these pricing models can create exorbitant invoices for your company – and at the enterprise level, these solutions lack any form of ROI, and quickly become a burden to your bottom line.”

Even enterprise level software can fail to truly meet the standard of market fluidity national and multi-national brands face. While many ERP systems are designed to be customized to various industries, this is akin to designing your own app with a drag-and-drop software.

Options such as these also lack true integration within your environment – these platforms are intended to replace aspects of, or even the entirety of your enterprise environment, and not to work within the architecture your company has worked with for years.

Enterprise environments take years, sometimes even decades to truly be implemented, and they are continuously adapting and upgrading as technology improves and markets dictate more speed and customer value. Brands that can truly be classified as “enterprise level” are no different – cultivating a national or multinational brand is an undertaking that can take a full generation, and requires continuous observation and tinkering to keep growing, and stay relevant in the public’s eye.

For a brand that took twenty years to rise to the level that it is now, it is much smarter to invest in the future, rather than the present – and using an proprietary third party software for inventory management is investing for the short term rather than the long term.

Finally, many inventory management systems lack mobile integration – a necessity to maintain speed and efficiency in a truly connected enterprise environment.

Customized solutions increase efficiency

An inventory management system can do a lot more than tell you when levels are low on a certain product. With a custom platform fully integrated within the rest of your ERP environment, you can track detailed data points such as a product’s physical location in your warehouse, or the system can automatically determine the optimal time for re-ordering products: based on data points such as available shipping routes or closest supplier, and even down to weather patterns that might effect delivery schedules.

A more sophisticated inventory management system goes beyond tracking the sale of a type of product – with RFID integration, when scanned by your POS system, individual products can be tracked and recorded as they are sold. With data as intricate as this, a custom inventory platform is able to aggregate sales data in order to automatically generate reports that provide insight into optimal production times and when demand increases or decreases.

When working with a custom inventory management system, all of this data will automatically populate in their respective reports for your different departments, warehouses, and offices – whether spread throughout town, or across the globe. Via realtime integration, your service team in St. Louis will be aware of a part being shipped out from New Delhi, and your accounting firm in New York will receive the purchase order.

A system such as this provides you with a detailed view of the entire history of a product – from production to the final sale. This can be further broken down into the order history of each part, that when pieced together create a finished product – meaning you can analyze the intricacies of your entire operations through a single program.

Most importantly, all of these features can be accessed and utilized via mobile device – meaning your business developers out in the field have the latest data, and your CCO in Denmark has access to the latest numbers.

A major benefit to custom inventory management solutions is the fact that your internal IT department needn’t learn new systems architecture and languages, or restructure to fit the limitations of a piece of third party software – when built custom, languages that are commonly used throughout legacy systems, like .NET or COBOL are valid options. This isn’t so with proprietary software.

Improve customer value and satisfaction

A custom inventory platform, when fully integrated within your enterprise environment, is an efficient method for increasing your customer satisfaction. This is the ultimate goal of an inventory management system – customers can reliably count on your item stock, and B2B connections can trust your operations and records.

With the additional insight big data analytics can provide your production and sales, your enterprise can take the next leap towards continual improvement in efficiency.