Tag Archive for: Apps for Business

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.

Tag Archive for: Apps for Business