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Enterprise Mobile App Ideas That Will Boost Your Business In 2021

As a forward-looking business leader, you likely have several app ideas that seem promising. And the right kind of ideas could boost your business in 2021. We delve deeper into this subject and reveal the mobile app development trends that will shape the year and beyond.

1. Why Mobile App Development Still Makes Sense In 2021

While the App Store and Google Play are inundated with apps, this doesn’t mean that mobile app development will go away. Quite the opposite, the app market is maturing and evolving and opening up new opportunities. There’s a growing demand for innovative apps that offer augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.

As a post-COVID world gradually emerges, enterprises and users will be looking for the most sustainable solutions. Enterprises will want to offer AR & VR-based training simulations since many of their employees now work remotely. And users will want more virtual concerts and tours, knowing that this is a far more convenient and safer way to enjoy their favorite pastimes.

2. App Ideas That Enhance Business Processes

With almost 80% of the global population owning a smartphone, enterprises need to take advantage of this phenomenon. As a business leader, it’s no use standing on the sidelines if you want to add value and grow your enterprise.

Enhance and restructure your existing business processes by utilizing emerging digital ecosystems. Furthermore, create apps that enhance customer loyalty, improve external and internal processes, and streamline communication between employees and clients.

3. Break Down The Barriers Between Your Staff And Clients

Take the time to assess how your staff and clients interact with each other. Are you happy with the results, or is the room for improvement? In a competitive market, you’ll likely need to tweak and improve your communication channels.

You may need to develop a business app that makes it easy for staff and clients to contact each other while keeping track of all communications. Furthermore, you’ll want to collect data and receive feedback from both staff and users to ascertain how well they’re engaging with each other and the app.

4. An Effective Business App Improves Productivity

Focus your mobile app development endeavors on creating apps that increase employee productivity and communications. And ensure that every business app you develop integrates with all your existing systems. Moreover, implement analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) in your apps so that you can assess all data points effectively.

Similarly to many companies, you’re probably sitting on a ton of unstructured data that’s making your business processes inefficient. But if you organize and analyze this data, you’ll discover ways to improve productivity in your enterprise.

5. Work With A Partner That Will Bring Your App Ideas To Life

Mobile app development is a lot harder than it seems, especially if you’re new to this field. And there are many vital aspects that you could overlook, such as eschewing the latest design trends, ignoring compatibility across devices, not integrating with existing solutions, or offering an offline mode.

However, if you work with an experienced development partner, you’ll be able to bring your app ideas to fruition. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you create innovative enterprise mobile apps that will engage users in 2021 and beyond!

9 Things You’ll Only Get With Custom App Development

Custom app development seems challenging, but it’s the best way to create amazing applications. While templates promise an easy and quick turnaround for mobile app developers, these seldom deliver optimal results. Businesses and professional developers don’t want to release apps that look and feel second-rate. Instead, they prefer to release apps that improve their reputation and enhance user engagement. We provide several reasons why you should custom develop your next app below.

1. Completely Custom Look Unlike Any Free Templates

When developing an app, it’s often a good idea to consider the options available to you. Do you build it entirely from scratch by taking the custom app development road? Or do you use free templates that will radically reduce initial cost and time factors? The latter may seem more enticing, but it’s not the wisest choice if you want your app to stand out.

Ideally, you want your app to be a showcase for your unique brand. You want your User Interface (UI) & User Experience (UX) to comply with the Visual Brand Language (VBL) that defines your company. Free cookie-cutter templates won’t do your brand justice, as the colors, shapes, and typography won’t match with your VBL. Thus, you’ll ultimately cheapen your brand and cause users to either question your design choices or disengage altogether.

But if you choose the custom development option, then you can make your app shine. Your application will fit your company’s existing product range, which reassures existing customers and makes it appealing to new users. Moreover, the development team won’t need to modify and shoehorn the boilerplate code and free templates. That gets messy, quickly! Instead, they’ll build the app from scratch and enjoy the benefits of a cleaner and more maintainable project.

2. Extend Specific Business Functions

Another benefit of developing a custom mobile app is that it’s easy to add or extend functionality. In particular, you’ll want to extend specific business functions that facilitate more efficient customer interactions.

At first, you may decide to release a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to test the waters. Then, once your app gains traction, you’ll want to add functionality that will bring users closer. These could include in-app purchases that allow users to buy products and services, a point system to build customer loyalty, and social media integration to allow users to share your company’s content in a fun way.

3. Give Users Something New

We can’t stress enough how important it’s to keep users engaged. Even after a successful launch, your app can quickly lose traction if users become bored. After all, they have tons of other cool and innovative apps to choose from in the App Store and Google Play.

Make sure to keep your app fresh with regular updates and by adding new features that excite users. Always listen to feedback since users often request features that will enhance their experience. However, only add new functionality that fits your custom mobile app and business goals. For example, some users may request the addition of Augmented Reality (AR) functionality. But this won’t work well with your e-commerce app and unnecessarily drive up development costs.

4. Increased Compatibility

Mobile devices and systems continuously evolve, which means that appreneurs should keep up with the latest developments. If we take a quick look at the global mobile operating system market, Android’s leading with a 72.48% market share while iOS comes second at 26.91%. This bit of information may entice you to support the Android platform for your upcoming custom mobile app.

But which Android OS should you support since there are so many versions?

According to AppBrain, Android 10 leads with a 34.2% market share, Android 9.0 (Pie) at 23.1%, and Android 8.0-8.1 (Oreo) at 17.1%. By supporting these versions, you’ll inevitably increase compatibility with the most current devices and systems. It’s also worthwhile updating your older apps to run well on recent generations of operating systems.

5. Improved Security Features

In recent years, a plethora of high profile hacking cases has made the news. And with the COVID pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, more people are working from home than ever before, which has only increased the rate of hacking attacks. Thus, businesses and individuals have become increasingly sensitive to these types of incursions.

There’s nothing worse for your reputation if hackers use your app as an attack vector to illegally access users’ mobile phones. That’s why the custom app development process should always encompass the most effective security features. Include two-factor authentication that users can enable, giving them extra protection and peace of mind.

6. The Latest Custom Mobile App Features

Take the time to simplify your UI & UX to make your app more accessible to a wider demographic. Furthermore, include customization features whereby users can easily change background images, colors, and fonts. Don’t forget to add a night mode to protect users that suffer from light sensitivity. And include an offline mode so they will continue using your app during Internet outages.

7. Make Changes When You Want

Your app won’t remain static. It’s a dynamic product that will undergo change during the development process and after its launch. However, templates and platforms often hinder these changes since they come with existing assets and code. Therefore, development teams have to waste valuable time modifying code and templates to suit their needs.

But this isn’t a problem with a custom solution that’s more cohesive. Developers know how every piece of their application operates and to implement changes without introducing new bugs or breaking it altogether.

8. Match Your App And Business Goals

Always consider your business goals when embarking on the development process. And ask yourself what you want to achieve with your upcoming app. Very likely, there’ll be an overlap between the direction of your app and your business goals. But you’ll only be able to achieve great results with a custom solution since it’s hard to find templates that will match your business goals down to a tee. Keep your vision focussed, and build your app in a way that makes it entirely your own.

9. Professional App Developers

It’s easy finding freelancers on various job boards and freelancing platforms to develop your app. But is that a good idea? Well, if you’re working on a hobby project and just want to test the waters, hiring a competent freelancer could be feasible. But if you’re developing an app for your business and expect professional results, then you’ll need to work with an agency.

Freelancers will often play up their list of credentials to attain work. And while some freelancers do good work, they seldom stick around to offer support after the project ends. This leads to problems, especially when you need to fix bugs after you’ve launched your app. You’ll find that the freelancer has moved on to the next project and isn’t available for fixing bugs.

Agencies, on the other hand, are far more accountable to their clients. They have a reputation to uphold and must comply with various laws and regulatory bodies to stay in business. Any reputable agency won’t leave clients high and dry if they experience issues with a finished app upon or after release. They’ll offer their advice, expertise, and support during and after development. And if you’re seeking mobile app development in Virginia, then don’t hesitate to contact NS804 to assist you with your custom app development endeavors.

COVID Shows Every Restaurant Needs A Mobile App

The Time Has Come: Every Restaurant Needs A Mobile App

COVID-19 changed a lot. Importantly, however, it also illuminated a lot. In other words, COVID-19 uncovered some truths. One of those truths is that restaurants need their own mobile app. While many industries struggled through the COVID-19 lockdowns, restaurants have been hit especially hard. With limitations on sit-down meals many restaurants aren’t even allowing sit-down customers. On the flip side of that, the mobile app industry is one of the very few that have thrived through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keep in mind that it’s far from over for the restaurant industry. A small hiccup in supply chains, and limitations on sit-down customers are merely roadblocks. While the restaurant and service industries might be in a small period of downturn, there’s always a path forward for the innovative, the brave, and the inventive. The restaurant industry is not dying. Rather, it’s shifting. Restaurants are now catering to curb-side-pick-up orders and delivery orders like they have never had to before. However, the environment dictates, to a certain degree, our operations, and the times have called for stronger remote service; even from restaurants. The way to provide this is through a custom app.

Developing A Mobile App For Your Restaurant

As a restaurant there are plenty of options outside of developing your own mobile app. For instance there are services like Ubereats and GrubHub. However, these 3rd party services cut into your profits from delivery and pick-up orders. Not only that, but with their umbrella-service business model, customers can become frustrated as they attempt to get updates about their order. The problems only get worse if something with the order is wrong. On top of that, with these services you don’t have dedicated drivers; meaning food can show up late and cold – reflecting poorly on your restaurant.

Those are just some of the reasons looking into developing your own mobile app for your restaurant is a wise business move. However, that doesn’t even begin to cover the major benefits that developing an app for your restaurant provides. Profit was mentioned briefly in the context that 3rd party delivery services cut into your profits from curb-side and delivery-services. The boost in profit is influenced by more than this factor alone though. By developing your own mobile app for the restaurant you’ve now created a tool to service all of your loyal customers directly.

This is beneficial not only to the restaurant, but for the customers as well. The custom app also provides your marketing team with a whole new platform they can leverage in marketing opportunities to encourage customer downloads. Additionally, this is great for struggling restaurants used to serving a full-house every weekend night. As we all work to maintain our own safety and the safety of others; it’s the simple truth that it is safer for some people to stay inside as much as possible. Developing a custom mobile app for your restaurant allows you to service this community without putting them at risk.

Even More Benefits

Improving the customer experience is the main focal point of nearly every business operating. The customer experience has become one of the vital elements to running a successful business, and therefore it makes sense that companies are emphasizing it so strongly. Developing a custom mobile app for your restaurant provides your company a platform capable of elevating your customer experience.

There is a myriad of ways that an app is capable of boosting your customer experience. For example, communication. Communication is integral to developing any relationship – especially the one with your customer. Having a mobile app specific for your restaurant provides you and your customers a direct channel to communicate. Beyond that, using a mobile app specific for your company means having a dedicated fleet of delivery drivers as well; ensuring that food arrives timely and piping hot. While it may sound expensive, the costs related to mobile app development are actually relatively low. The costs are far outgained by profits reaped in the first months after developing a custom mobile app.

Centralizing Management Through a Mobile App

There are other ways to make use of a mobile app in the restaurant industry as well. In addition to boosting profits, a mobile app can help you centralize your management of the restaurant. This includes making it easier to manage a limited amount of reservations and cancellations. Not only that, but it provides easier and more convenient ordering options for all of your customers.

Not only that, but you can even use a mobile app to launch a loyalty program for the customers who can’t get enough of your scrumptious food. All-in-all, developing an app for your restaurant makes you a more competitive restaurant amongst your peers. In a market place as fierce as it is today, any advantage helps.

A Recap on Restaurant Apps

There is a whole myriad of reasons to develop a custom mobile app as a restaurant. Rather than just listing your menu on a 3rd party service company like Ubereats or GrubHub, take control of your customer base by investing in a custom mobile app dedicated to your restaurant alone.

Eliminating 3rd party service-fees that eat into your profits, and replacing an undedicated fleet of drivers with a fleet that specifically services your restaurant will immediately boost profits. As well as the customer experience. On top of that, developing a custom mobile app makes ordering much more convenient for your customers. It also helps you manage pick-up, and delivery orders. All while making it easier to manage reservations.

Finally, beyond an increase in profits, and an uptick in the customer experience, developing a custom app is a strategic move for the future. As 2020 and the COVID-19 virus have shown us, the shift to a virtual age is already underway. Developing a mobile app for your restaurant doesn’t only help today. But it helps prepare you for success in the future as well. Providing a centralized place for your customers to reach you. To order from you, to cash in their loyalty points, and to even leave reviews.

There is really no reason to wait on developing an app for your restaurant. As more and more orders become curbside pickup and delivery, customers are looking for ways to support local restaurants while staying safe and staying inside.

Some Final Thoughts

Developing a mobile app for your restaurant helps centralize your activities, communicate with customers, and operate in a more virtual-world. It will give your customers a place to order and communicate with you, while also acting as a management tool for you and your staff. It’s a process, however, developing a mobile app that’s going to be just right for your restaurant, and your customers. For more information on development services, or how to build a mobile app, visit NS804 today.

NS804 is dedicated to delivering top-shelf knowledge and information on app development, mobile app development and trends in app design. Making mobile app development services more accessible to the everyday inventor with a great idea. Visit NS804 today to take the first step on the path toward developing your first app and turning your idea into a reality.

The Waterfall UX Process: Everything You Need To Know

When developing mobile apps, we need to consider various project management approaches, such as the Waterfall UX process. After all, we retain users by utilizing methodologies and strategies for UI/UX that work. And we want to reduce the associated risks of creating apps via a well-thought-out Waterfall software development process.

But you may be wondering if this is the right methodology for your upcoming project or considering alternatives such as Agile. Well, we’ll shed some light on these matters and compare both methodologies below.

1. What Is The Waterfall Methodology

 

The Waterfall methodology is a project management paradigm initially used in construction and manufacturing but later adopted by software developers. All project tasks are split into phases that follow a linear sequence that flows downwards, similarly to a waterfall, hence the naming convention. It’s a fairly straightforward process but far more rigid than alternative models such as agile.

2. Does The Waterfall UX Process Work

 

Users expect modern apps to have intuitive and responsive UX. And a few ways to keep these users satisfied is by simplifying the user journey, organizing content, personalizing apps, adding biometric authentication features, and minimizing data input. But how does a development team hash out their UX process to create engaging apps? The good news is that the Waterfall methodology works incredibly well for UX, which many developers utilize.

A well-trodden Waterfall UX process works as follows:

  • Initiate research and determine all core problems
  • Categorize all these problems
  • Generate journey maps and personas
  • Hold brainstorming sessions to come up with new ideas
  • Create a prototype and test it
  • Begin developing the product based on the prototype
  • Release the product
  • Gather user feedback and return to the first phase

Overall, this process brings about satisfactory results as long as the UX isn’t updated regularly. However, many design-led mobile app developers prefer to update their UX in shorter cadences. In such a scenario, a Waterfall process isn’t the most suitable methodology. Thus, a growing number of developers utilize Lean and Agile methodologies instead.

3. The Main Parts Of The Waterfall Software Development Process

 

A typical Waterfall software development process consists of either five or seven phases following a stringent linear sequence. The naming of phases may vary, but these are the commonly used descriptors:

Requirements – Project managers gather all necessary customer requirements during this initial phase. Then, without further customer input, the remaining phases in the waterfall sequence are planned out.

Design – Design consists of a logical design and a physical design phase. Logical design involves the brainstorming and theorization of solutions, while physical design necessitates the establishment of specifications based on these theories.

Implementation – The development team’s programmers start writing code based on the requirements and specifications from the above phases.

Verification – During the verification phase, the customer receives the finished product to review. The customer will then ascertain whether or not the product meets their requirements.

Maintenance – The customer regularly uses the product and gradually discovers bugs and other faults. Then, the maintenance team makes the necessary fixes based on customer feedback.

4. Pros And Cons Of Waterfall

 

The Waterfall software development process has several pros and cons that you should consider before commencing any upcoming projects. Unfortunately, the Waterfall model has gained an undeserved reputation among many developers nowadays. They often claim that it’s inefficient and outdated due to its rigid structure. However, it’s still widely used in enterprise, game, and mobile app development.

Waterfall’s clear structure makes it easy for developers to understand and complete tasks. And since tasks must be completed in sequence, this diminishes the possibility of unfinished and unpolished apps. Furthermore, if the developer can commit to a set release date, then it’s easy to predict the end goal and production costs.

On the flipside, Waterfall’s rigid structure makes it difficult to implement changes. Any sudden change or revision will likely derail the project and extend the time to market (TTM). Another negative is that the customer or end-user doesn’t have a say during the development process and provides valuable feedback that benefits the project. Finally, testing takes place near the end of the process, which may lead to costly and time-consuming revisions.

5. Waterfall Methodology Vs Agile

 

Whether in the canteen or around the water cooler, it’s common for developers to engage in Waterfall methodology vs Agile debates. Since neither methodology is better than the other, it’s difficult to settle on a clear winner. However, they both have several notable differences that are worth discussing.

We’ve already gone over Waterfall’s rigid structure, which makes it difficult to implement changes. Well, Agile is the complete opposite and allows for a more iterative approach at shorter time scales. However, do keep changes to a minimum to avoid a budget overrun. After all, Agile lacks the predictability of Waterfall, making it less suitable for determining cost and time factors.

While Waterfall’s ideal for projects with clearly defined end goals, this isn’t the case for Agile. Customers are often uncertain about how a project should turn out and prefer to determine the result through trial and error. Agile’s flexible approach facilitates user feedback throughout the development process and fine-tuning the project accordingly.

6. What Projects Work Best With Waterfall

 

Waterfall works best for smaller projects and those that have a fixed budget, release date, and scope. It’s also a good choice for any application that doesn’t require frequent updates. And the team structure of the developer may determine if Waterfall is the way to go. For example, if contractors and remote workers will also be contributing to the project, then Waterfall’s clean and straightforward structure makes it suitable. Moreover, the customer may not have the time or inclination to follow the entire development process and only wishes to see the finished product.

7. Should You Use Waterfall And Agile Together?

 

It usually makes sense to deliberate over Waterfall Methodology Vs Agile, especially when embarking on mobile app development. But sometimes, depending on the project, it may be necessary to embrace both methodologies. Ideally, you’ll want to form a hybrid methodology that combines the positive aspects of both models but without any of the negative.

By implementing the Water-Scrum-Fall paradigm, it’s possible to have a hybrid methodology that works effectively. Project leaders operate within the Waterfall paradigm, but the development team functions in an Agile environment and only integrates with the Waterfall structure via the Scrum team. However, it’s challenging to run Agile and Waterfall processes concurrently. But worthwhile if you’re employing Continuous Delivery in your DevOps pipeline for your app development endeavors.

The Bottom Line

 

The Waterfall methodology has played a significant role in software development for many decades. It may seem outdated, especially for newer developers accustomed to an Agile environment. However, Waterfall still has its place and can be made to work with Agile if necessary. Contact us now, and find out how NS804 can help bring your mobile app ideas to life.

How to Build a Mobile App: Native vs. Hybrid Development

Every business and entrepreneur wants to push their product to market with the smallest investment of time and capital as possible, and for good reason. It makes sense as an appreneur to seek out the method of mobile development with the lowest cost, which is usually hybrid app development.

In our second installment of How to Build a Mobile App: The Ultimate Guide, we’ll look into the pros and cons of both hybrid and native app development, and shed light on why when examining the entire lifecycle of an app, we believe native is the more cost effective choice.

It is important to note that this is a topic of debate with a wide and varied array of opinions and conclusions. Throughout my research on the native vs. hybrid debate, the overwhelming consensus is that “it depends on the developer.”

Developers and blogs are quick to espouse the pros and cons of native and hybrid apps that the tech industry has agreed upon, but there seems to be little supporting evidence as to where these findings originated, other than from their own personal experience. Articles, thought-pieces, and blogs have all come to contradicting conclusions based upon the same sets of data, and these conclusions seem to arise from the opinions and skillsets of the developers or authors themselves.

Regardless of any opinion about native and hybrid development, the most important step you can take as an appreneur or business is to work with a developer you trust – but it is important to know how each method of development can influence your app’s future.

This is a debate that seems to be mainly fueled by opinions rather than stats – but we will provide as much insight as possible by using what case studies and supporting data are out there.

There are many different lenses from which to view this debate, but we will mainly focus on answering these questions:

  • What is hybrid development?
  • What is native development?
  • What do they mean for your users?
  • What do they mean for your business?

What is hybrid development?

Hybrid development follows the naming convention of most dev terms, and does exactly as its title implies; it utilizes a software development kit (SDK) to make an app that can run on multiple platforms (Android and iOS, for example) and is coded using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – as well as others.

A hybrid app’s code is passed through a “wrapper” that the OS can understand – like an English speaker using a phone to translate a conversation with a Spanish speaker. Hybrid apps rely on plugins to access your device’s functionality – such as the device’s native hardware, camera, mapping, messaging, and email functionalities. Plugins are built and supported by third parties, and a hybrid developer doesn’t have control over how a plugin functions – only when and where it is implemented.

In a similar vein, a progressive web app (a hot topic right now) uses the device’s native browser to access a website specifically designed to display information on a mobile device. It’s akin to clicking a hyperlink, but instead of taking you to a link, it takes you to the site where the app is hosted. The app isn’t visually displaying the browser layer, but uses the device’s browser as a way to connect the device to the app.

Relatively new to the development scene is React Native, which allows developers to code an app using the same UI (User Interface) blocks as a native app, but written in JavaScript and React. It’s basically a hybrid of native and hybrid development, giving developers the opportunity to mix web-based languages with their native counterparts – and provides developers with the option to use JavaScript and React for simple processes, and the device’s native code for heavy lifting and pages that must be tight and responsive.

What is native development?

Just like hybrid, native development’s name describes its exact method of app creation; apps are coded using languages native to a specific platform, such as using Swift to write for iOS, or JAVA for Android.

Native apps can seamlessly integrate with the native functionality on your device – this gives native developers the opportunity to focus on designing the main aspects of your app, rather than spending time working with third party plugins to achieve the same functionalities already included on your users’ device. Native apps are also more secure than hybrid.

What do they mean for your users?

Your users honestly don’t care if your app is built using hybrid, native, progressive, or React Native development. They care about solving their pain point – and how well your app solves that problem. Whether it’s Snapchat (a natively-developed app with a focus on iOS) solving the dearth of filtered selfies, or an HVAC engineer using an augmented reality (AR) app to run diagnostics on a broken system, your users care about how responsive your app is to their inputs, the intuitiveness of its UI, and the quality of the solution it provides.

Users want your app to feel like it belongs on their device; they don’t want to be forced to learn how to use your app. They want your app to work for them, and the easiest way to ensure your users are provided with an intuitive UX (user experience) is to natively develop your app.

When it comes to UX/UI, natively-developed apps will almost invariably perform better than hybrid. Native apps are not only coded for a specific platform; they provide a UI that is designed to the standards and conventions of that platform. To put it simply; using an iPhone feels completely different than using a Samsung. They both display interactive information across a touchscreen; and for a user, that’s just about where their similarities come to an end.

Over time, Android and iOS users have come to expect certain commands to perform specific functions, and both platforms rely on their users to interact with apps using different sets of intuition. Both platforms have released style guides for developers to follow, which can vary significantly in their principles of design and function.

Take, for example, the difference between the home screens of Android Pie and an iPhone X:

Android Pie and iPhone 12.1.2

Above (left to right): Android Pie, and an iPhone X running iOS 12.1.2

Have you ever borrowed a friend or colleague’s phone, only to be presented with an unfamiliar UI? It’s a jarring experience, and it’s an excellent example of the personal connection we share with our phones and other mobile devices.

Android users will intuitively search for the “hamburger” (three horizontal lines stacked on top of each other) style menu to access information, while iPhone users will expect bottom menu bar navigation. It seems pretty straight-forward to adapt to either system, but users quickly form strong opinions based on their first interactions with an app, and users are more likely to uninstall your app than keep it. Within the first 3 days of an app being downloaded, 77% of the users who downloaded it have already uninstalled.

An important thing to keep in mind is that your app is not the only one on a user’s device. There are most likely apps competing for your users’ attention, and those users are liable to switch to another app at any time – especially if it doesn’t provide the best experience possible. According to Dynatrace, a software intelligence company, 48% of users are less likely to continue using your app after a negative experience, 31% are less likely to purchase another app made by your company – and will spread negative word-of-mouth marketing to their friends – and 26% will give your app a negative rating.

This is why your development method matters to your users. An app with a hybrid design will run on both platforms – but it won’t run as well as a native app. A hybrid app will always be forced to sacrifice the aspects of the user experience that make each platform unique; and because of this, your app will feel less personal – and mobile’s strongest attractor is the personal experience it provides.

If your app isn’t responsive, and doesn’t flow seamlessly with the rest of the UI/UX a platform offers, users will grow frustrated – which can lead to them switching to a competitor, or giving your app a bad rating or review.

What do they mean for your business?

Simply put, hybrid development will almost invariably have a lower initial cost and faster development time when compared to native. This is for two main reasons: There is no extra cost to write code that runs on multiple platforms, and they are written using languages web developers already know.

This means that when developing for multiple platforms, hybrid development takes roughly half the time of native, and opens access to two markets for the cost of one. This method of development usually comes with a lower billable rate, as web developers make about 20% less than mobile developers and spend less time coding and testing (initially), as the app runs on every platform using the same code.

These factors indicate hybrid development has both a lower initial investment and opportunity cost when compared to native, and are extremely compelling reasons to choose hybrid over native; but the lower up-front cost and doubled market size are traps that can lead to issues down the line that can severely hamper your app’s growth and sustainability.

It was in 2012 when Facebook CEO and tech giant Mark Zuckerberg was quoted saying “the biggest mistake that we made as a company is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native,” in an interview with TechCrunch. “[I]t just wasn’t there,” he continued. “[S]ince we’ve done the iOS app we’ve seen double the amount of feeds people consume.”

The social media company had many reasons for switching to native development, which were presented in a post detailing the performance issues and limitations Facebook encountered with HTML5. Some of these performance issues include:

  • Lagging scrolling speeds
  • Janky animations
  • The overload of data in the feed would sometimes cause the app to crash

These were issues Facebook deemed important enough to spend the time and money on developing their app natively, and is a perfect example that no matter how large your market presence is, your UX is crucial to your app’s continued growth and success.

A hybrid app may have a lower initial cost than a natively-developed one – but a native app will provide a better experience, and only the best apps perform well on the App Store and Google Play. In 2016, the top 200 apps on the App Store had an average of $82,500 in daily revenue, while the top 8,000 apps had an average daily revenue of just $3,500, a stark decline that demonstrates the need to be the absolute best at providing the solution to whatever pain point your app aims to solve.

As another example, in 2016, AirBnB took a leap of faith and began development using React Native, a switch from their native development roots (a five-part, in-depth study into their experiences with React Native can be found here). Ultimately, AirBnB decided to switch back to native development for many reasons, including:

  • There were technical and organizational issues with React Native that hampered development, causing unexpected delays on projects that could easily have been completed using native code.
  • It turned out that while their app was created using React Native, only a small portion of the app was truly coded using React. In order to work effectively, bridging infrastructure was required, and the engineers were forced to add to their work load by supporting code on three platforms instead of two.
  • While build time iterations were an order of magnitude faster than native, debugging could take days.

When comparing the cost of developing an app for both iOS and Android, native development will always be more expensive than hybrid, as code must be written separately for each platform, leading to more billable hours – but keep in mind that companies like Facebook and AirBnB have deemed that investment to be worth it.

Web developer for Mozilla, James Long, even released a thought-piece in 2015 detailing why hybrid apps will never compete with native when it comes to performance and UX.

Your users decide whether or not your app is successful, and their decision is based on their experiences using your app. Your UX is largely determined by your app’s method of development, and native development almost invariably provides a better UI/UX.

In an interesting study, Alex Sullivan (a developer and writer for thoughtbot) created a simple stopwatch app for Android using three development methods: native, React Native, and Flutter (a hybrid development kit). When testing on a Nexus 5, the natively-developed app beat out both the React Native and Flutter apps by a “non trivial margin when it comes to performance,” and both CPU and memory usage were lower on the native app than the React Native and Flutter apps.

If your app does the same thing as a competing app, but the competing app does it one second faster, users will switch to your competitor. If there is a marked difference in performance for an app that only functions as a stop watch like Sullivan’s, its easy to extrapolate why companies like Facebook decided to switch to the more expensive option of native development; they were worried someone would do it better and faster.

Android Pie and iPhone 12.1.2

One of the most important factors in determining how successful your app will be is your app’s App Store optimization, which is colloquially abbreviated to ASO. ASO is used to boost your app’s ranking in the App Store and Google Play by utilizing trending keywords to catch users searching for a solution to their particular pain point.

In the future, we’ll take an intricate look at all the strategies you can utilize to perfect your app’s ASO.

Other than keywords, your app’s user ratings, reviews, and retention are the key variables used to determine your app’s ranking on the app store. Each of these factors has a direct correlation with your app’s UX/UI, and this is where the trap hybrid development sets becomes twofold; with a cheaper and more direct path to a multi-platform release, you set yourself up to fail twice as fast, and twice as hard. Beating another appreneur or business to market is all well and good, but as soon as a competing app comes into the picture, it only has to provide a slightly better UX/UI than yours to begin siphoning from your user base.

This is where the longevity of native and hybrid development really starts to split. All apps require updates throughout their lifecycle – sometimes due to the platform itself updating, security issues, implementing additional functionality, or improving UI to follow current design trends.

If your app is hybrid, when an update for a platform is released (no matter how small of an update), you must check every plugin to make sure it’s still functional. If a plugin isn’t functioning properly, the developer must wait for the third-party provider to update the plugin itself – this can lead to downtime that is both out of your control, and your developer’s.

Hybrid apps must constantly be re-worked and tweaked to function properly on different platforms, and you’ll often attempt to solve one issue on one platform, only to begin working on a different problem for the other.

The trap set by the initial low cost of hybrid development becomes exponential by this point; a hybrid app’s UX/UI will under-perform natively-developed apps on both Android and iOS, which in turn leads to lower user ratings, reviews, and retention on Google Play and the App Store. Even if your hybrid app provides the best user experience it possibly can, there’s most likely a native app out there that’s doing it better. If a competing app’s average user rating is a four, and your’s is a three, those ratings add up, and can lead to a significant disparity between the two apps’ ASO and overall ranking.

A hybrid app, by this point, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It may have been on the market for a longer period of time than a native app, but time on the App Store or Google Play isn’t the key factor in determining your app’s success: it’s ASO. The hybrid app will constantly be battling the low or mediocre user ratings it receives, which is a huge handicap to your overall ASO score. You must now weigh the options before you: constantly provide users with updates to keep up with competition and the standards of multiple platforms, or walk away before your sunken costs get out of hand.

A native app also has the added benefit that a large chunk of your app’s ASO comes from a passive source – those being user retention, ratings and reviews – and since those factors are already robust, it gives you the ability to focus purely on keywords (the lifeblood of successful ASO) and trending topics.

It’s like building a house; it doesn’t matter how pretty the paint is if the foundation isn’t sound. A house with good bones might have a higher initial cost and take longer to build, but throughout the years it requires much less maintenance, and updates to the home can add additional rooms rather than fixing extant issues.

Interestingly enough, while hybrid apps require more updates and usually have a higher rate of bugs and crashes when compared to native apps, 44% of hybrid developers don’t track errors and crashes (this stat comes from an article arguing hybrid is a better option than native).

The pros and cons of hybrid and native development

Hybrid pros:

  • Quick development cycle
  • Low initial cost
  • Multi-platform
  • Low initial billable rate

Hybrid cons:

  • Compromised UX/UI
  • Frequent updates
  • High maintenance costs
  • Handicapped ASO

Native pros:

  • Robust UX/UI
  • Reliable
  • Secure
  • Longevity

Native cons:

  • Slower development cycle
  • Higher billable rate
  • Higher initial cost

If you’re considering building an app, and are worried about the up-front costs of native development, remember that you can always start with a natively-developed MVP, and build from there. Taking the extra initial time and cost to produce a native app will inevitably save you money if you plan on your app being around for more than a year, and it’s better to start with a solid foundation than trying to go back in and fill cracks later.

What Features are Worth it? Refining Your App Ideation and Scope

When solving a problem, it’s tempting to want to solve every problem. Replacing your car battery? Might as well change the washer fluid. Have a routine check-up with your doctor? Might as well get that flu shot.

While it’s pragmatic to perform routine maintenance on your car, addressing tangential pain points when designing your app can bloat your budget, muddle development, and reduce your app’s user experience. Before deciding what features your app should use, figure out the main pain point you want your app to address.

“I always ask my clients to describe what their app does in two sentences,” said Nick Jones, CEO of NS804. “If they can’t do that, I know we need to work together to create a concrete, straightforward idea.”

The key to successful development, and in turn, a successful app, is to identify your primary pain point, and then focus on solving that, and only that. All other solutions will stem from your original pain point. It’s like writing a thesis statement – your overall idea needs to be summed up in a few sentences – later, you can get into the details.

“Do your one thing right,” said Jones. “and do it well.”

So, you’ve done your market research, and have identified your main pain point. How do you implement your findings into a successful set of features? Are there certain app features that will provide the functionality your users need at less cost than when compared to another? What even is a feature?

First, let’s go over just what an app’s features entail. Widely used features are as follows:

  • Mapping/GPS/Navigation
  • Social Sharing
  • Back End Management / Reporting
  • Game Center
  • Push Notification
  • Augmented Reality
  • Virtual Reality
  • Real Time Updating
  • Third Party Tool Integration (API)
  • Graphics

The more features your app includes, the more time your app spends in development, and the more money you will inevitably spend. Out of this list of features, graphics (including AR and VR) and back end integration are the most time-consuming and expensive features to include in your app.

Keep in mind that certain features can be used, but in a sparing manner. Your app might need a back end to manage data, but it might be manageable without website integration. Your app may need to use graphics to convey ideas to users, but icons might suffice instead of 3D graphics. Find ways to trim the fat from your app’s features, and in turn reduce your budget.

Features are the core of your app, and they include everything from simple fields for users to select, to massive back end infrastructure to manage cloud data storage for millions of users. There’s a wide range to choose from, so make sure you choose wisely.

How do I implement my findings from my market research into a successful set of features?

Building Apps with Strategy

Let’s say you run a farmer’s co-op, and based on market research, you want to offer your customers an easy way to select their choice of produce to be delivered each week.

That’s all you should focus on for now; providing your users with a simple interface for selecting your currently offered produce, and fields for inputing their delivery address and contact data. To achieve this, the only features your app would need to function are:

  • Simple graphical fields for selecting produce
  • Simple fields to input user address and contact data
  • Back end management for storing and accessing a user’s address and contact data

Believe it or not, that’s really all your app needs to complete your goal. Adding quality of life features – such as a produce rating system used to give customers product suggestions based on food they like – can be added in the future.

Your delivery drivers can input delivery addresses directly into their own phone’s navigation system, so there’s no need to implement navigation in your app. Need to contact a customer? You can use the contact data provided to call or text. In the future, internal app messaging might be something to consider, but you’re not making a messaging service. Don’t be afraid to rely on other apps’ functionality – your users aren’t downloading your co-op delivery app to check the weather.

The more features your app has, the more time is needed to test and debug. When you focus on solving one problem, you reduce your development and testing time, which saves you a lot of money. The less features your app implements, especially at launch, the more robust its user experience will be, as new users will not only be introduced to a simple, easy to understand UI, they also won’t be confronted with as many bugs (or optimally, none at all).

First impressions are important, and it’s no different for your app. If a user downloads your app, and finds they are inundated with various options, numerous fields, and a lengthy learning process, they’re much less likely to continue using your app. Keep in mind that your app most likely isn’t the only one on their phone, so don’t try to do everything.

Another benefit to focusing on solving one pain point is smaller file size. Apps take up space just like any program, and 1 in 6 users delete one app per week to free up storage space. If your app isn’t taking up too much space, it’s less likely to be deleted to make room for another app.

Your app only has to do one thing, but it has to do that thing better than anyone else.

How do I know I’m providing my users with enough features to satisfy them?

Satisfied Users

After solving your initial pain point, this question is solved by listening to user feedback.

User reviews and feedback are fantastic channels to understand your user’s mindsets. This direct-from-customer research is a goldmine for you; use the reviews and feedback to develop features that improve your app’s user experience and functionality.

When you listen to your users’ requests, you not only develop your app based upon free market research, you strengthen your relationship with your user base. Your users requested push notifications to alert them when your co-op has delivered produce to their door? Do that. It’s a tangental solution, but it still circles back to the app’s main pain point – hassle-free produce delivery. If a user requests a game to keep them occupied while they wait for their delivery, don’t do that. It’s a simple example, but some user requests can be off-track from the main pain point your app solves. Learn to distinguish the bad from the good.

Here’s a litmus test for determining a good feature from a bad one; if the extra feature provides a more complete solution to, or enhances the user experience when solving your main pain point, it’s good. If it doesn’t directly relate to your main pain point, you can decide whether or not it’s truly needed. There’s no definite answer when determining if a feature is bad, but it is easy to figure out if it’s the right fit for your app.

It’s almost like writing a novel. Does your newest chapter fit within the story’s theme? Does the dialogue progress the plot? It works very similarly with app creation – if a feature expounds upon the central solution your app provides, it’s most likely a useful feature. If you’re finding it hard to justify why a character in your story wears flip-flops in the winter, it might not be integral to your plot. In the same vein, if a feature isn’t easily justifiable when held up to your app’s main pain point, it might be better to forgo it.

It’s always better to pick a manageable number of features to focus on – and to execute those features as best as possible – than it is to cast a wide net in an attempt to catch users with multiple functionalities. Venmo, for example, does one thing – money transfers – and it does them well. The average smartphone has 35 apps installed on it – you’re not competing to provide the answers to every problem your user has – you’re focused on providing the optimal solution to one problem out of those 35.

When you provide your users with an easy-to-use app that solves a specific pain point in their lives, they won’t mind if your co-op produce delivery app doesn’t provide real-time map updates, as long as they receive their delivery at the scheduled time and date. Build your foundation first – then add the decorations.

Measure twice, cut once

Plan Ahead

It’s an old adage, but it rings true. Before taking any steps in developing your app, identify the pain point you want to solve in your target audiences’ lives. Then research that pain point; How many people does this effect? How do they handle this problem currently? What are they asking for? How can you capitalize on this need? What are the most efficient ways to accomplish this?

The first webcam was used by programmers to livestream a coffee pot, so they wouldn’t waste a trip to fill up their mug; it solved their individual pain point, but it didn’t solve the true need millions of other users had. Before executing an idea, ask yourself; is this the root, or a branch?

When you have a solid foundation, and a main focus, build your app around that and only that. If there’s another pain point you discover that isn’t in line with the solution your app is designed to provide, make another. That’s another revenue stream for you.

Do your one thing, and do it well.

Interested in learning more about efficient development techniques? Check out our Minimum Viable Product page.

10 Mobile Apps Contractors Use To Boost Business

The proliferation of the Internet and mobile technology is driving the current “on-demand” economy. Customers in this type of economy expect to receive a high-quality product or service as soon as they need it.

Uber was one of the first businesses to successfully provide on-demand services, and is best known as a personal transportation services. But, Uber also allows customers to outsource basic life tasks such as buying groceries and laundry. This was accomplished in part by providing Uber drivers and customers access to the same mobile website and also providing both with unique interfaces.

Today’s on-demand economy has also changed the business operations of independent contractors, also known as freelancers in some industries. Contractors are more likely to compete for projects that are beyond their normal scope by outsourcing work to a third-party.

A Mobile App development can be a highly effective way for contractors to eliminate these middlemen, allowing contractors to connect with potential clients more directly, complete recurring tasks more efficiently and much more. This strategy generally increases the quality of service and return on investment.

How Contractors Are Starting To Use Apps

Uber’s early success in an on-demand economy also gave rise to similar businesses such as Taskrabbit, which provides household services. Heal is a similarly run company that allows healthcare providers to make house calls to patients. The success of these businesses makes it clear that on-demand services are useful for both general and specialized industries.

For example, Amazon Home Services was launched in 2015, and currently shows listings for over 900 professional services. Users simply specify the search criteria for a particular service to obtain a list of contractors offering that service.

These middlemen can be beneficial to both contractors and clients, but they also have some disadvantages. For example, home repair contractors often fail to acquire a significant portion of their business from these services, since their customers tend to choose a contractor based only on price.

This hiring behavior can reduce the quality of work and increase upsells of additional services to increase profit. These contractor “matchmaking” sites also standardize competition, making it more difficult for contractors to distinguish themselves from their competitors. For example, the contractor profiles on Angie’s List must all fit the same general parameters.

How Contractors Can Gain A Competitive Advantage With Mobile Apps

Mobile apps provide a promising option for allowing independent contractors to gain a competitive advantage while ensuring that customers receive high-quality work. These apps can save customers time and money, and increase the value of individual brands for a range of professional services.

Mobile apps can also create another channel for local contractors to contact new customers when they’re combined with a company website. This benefit is particularly useful for local contractors, who often rely on referrals and word-of-mouth.

Mobile apps provide contractors with a single platform for broadcasting their brand and integrating communications with their customers such as email, newsletters, and social media. Contractors can even use a mobile app’s push notification to immediately contact loyal customers with incentives.

Other features such as calendars can prevent missed appointments and double bookings, in addition to facilitating the coordination of team members. Mobile apps can also include a payment system to invoice customers and help ensure they pay on time. These features are particularly helpful for independent contractors, who are routinely paid late.

Apps That Contractors Are Using Today

1. SiteMax

SiteMax is a cloud-based site management system that increases a contractor’s accountability and transparency, thus establishing trust with clients. Features include custom site reports, digital timecards, digital purchase orders, progress photos and 24-hour weather reports. These capabilities allow contractors to incorporate their current paper processes into a single electronic process.

2. Snappii Mobile Apps

Snappii offers a collection of mobile construction apps. These apps can optimize the workflow between the office and field, which reduces paperwork and increases operational efficiency. The most popular of these apps include Change Management, Daily Logs, Equipment and Inventory, Project Management and Safety Inspection. Contractors can also convert existing paper forms into a digital format and customize them to meet specific needs.

3. FACS

FACS is a cloud-based software suite that includes several project management solutions for construction projects. It also allows users to customize their workflow for their particular needs. FACS is primarily intended for project managers, but it’s also useful for contractors, owners and employees who need to eliminate project delays caused by outdated document management systems.

4. CommittedCost

CommittedCost is an online software solution that manages project costs. It uses committed field costs and daily progress reports to estimate the project’s final costs. CommittedCost tracks all of the costs for a project, including procurement, engineering and on-site costs. Contractors can begin using CommittedCost very quickly since it doesn’t require installation or IT expertise.

5. Knowify

Knowify is a suite of tools for dispatch management and contract jobs that are specifically designed for residential remodelers. It helps users to operate in a paperless environment and improves their insights into job performance. Knowify’s many capabilities include contract management, project management, project estimates, invoicing, scheduling and time tracking. It also synchronizes with QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online.

6. Lessons Learned Database

Lessons Learned Database helps contractors learn and apply the lessons learned from an after action review or similar event. It provides a repository for information captured during a review and maintains it for future use. This capability is valuable because such information is often lost after a review or never used for future projects.

7. ControlBoard

ControlBoard is designed to solve problems in commercial construction such as the scheduling, dispatching and tracking of resources. It directly addresses resource allocation for a specific project and time period, rather than simply planning project activities. Contractors can begin using ControlBoard within 30 minutes to improve their resource scheduling.

8. dapulse

dapulse is a project management solution that helps team members collaborate more effectively. It increases productivity by helping users to focus on a project’s most critical tasks. dapulse also shows users the status of each task at a glance. Additional benefits of dapulse include improving operational efficiency by reducing meetings and emails.

9. Bridgit Closeout

Bridgit Closeout provides construction contractors with a punch list, allowing them to complete projects on time and on budget. It’s typically used by general contractors on commercial, multi-family, education and hospitality projects. Bridgit Closeout includes a mobile app that lets contractors use photos to quickly log tasks, which can greatly reduce the time spent tracking critical issues. This mobile app also automates the communication between contractors and subcontractors, keeping team members accountable and in sync with each other.

10. CoConstruct

CoConstruct is intended for builders and remodelers who need to design custom projects. It’s an all-in-one tool that allows them to estimate the project’s cost by entering data only once. This data can then move through the various phases of a project’s workflow, including specifications, proposals, bids, change orders and budgeting. CoConstruct can also move project data to and from QuickBooks.

Finding The Right Mobile App For Your Business

Many contractors will be able to find a helpful mobile app in the list above. Just remember that just like every business is unique, so is every app. If you want to optimize the way your business operates and find the perfect app for your business, contact NS804 to learn about customized mobile apps for contractors.

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