Over 75% of the global internet traffic is through mobile devices today. This shift to mobile phones and tablets has prompted businesses to build apps from where customers can interact with a business’ services. Managers are often quick to approve budgets to cover initial development costs for an app. However, they will often forget to budget for post-development costs.
The industry norm is to budget between 15 and 20% of development costs as annual maintenance costs. This can translate to tens of thousands depending on an app. However, the rapid evolution of technology and expectation of flawless service means that a business cannot slack on quality improvement each year.
What are the main drivers of costs after the launch of an app?
1. Finding Bugs and Fixing Them
Once people begin downloading an app and using it, they will naturally give feedback. A business must always anticipate that bugs may be discovered after the launch. Having a budget to take care of this ensures that the development team can quickly fix it. A bug that lingers for too long leads to a high installation rate, which undoes any publicity work that had been done. In fact, it’s harder to convince users who have uninstalled an app to reinstall it than it is to convince a totally new customer to try it.
Developers will insist on a maintenance clause to be included in the initial contract because they realize that bugs are often an inevitability in app development. Advising clients to budget for maintenance is good practice.
2. To Keep Up with New Hardware and Operating Systems
Users today expect to use an app seamlessly across all their mobile hardware devices. Apps, however, may end up having issues as new hardware and operating systems are launched. It’s upon the maintenance teams to carry out tests so that they preempt such issues before they become a widespread problem for users. The most common problems are UI-related where apps flicker or cannot launch properly. They can be fixed with minor updates on the business app.
3. Improving UI/UX
As app-building technology improves, the user interface and user experience on apps improve. The changes may be subtle but if you compare a popular app today with how it looked 5 years ago, the difference will be stark. Users may not consciously realize it, but businesses should strive to make improvements in their UI/UX each year. Customers will quickly notice when an app gives a poor experience compared to others, even when the two are unrelated. For instance, they may enjoy using their food ordering and taxi-hailing apps but experience poor service on their banking app.
App usage time is directly correlated with the ease of use of the app.
4. Building New Features and Integrations
Apps need to go through major updates every year or two. New versions of apps have new features built-in together with a fresh UI. New features result from new products the business has launched or new trends in an industry. For instance, a bank could launch a new overdraft facility for customers on a new version of their app.
Major updates also feature integrations with third-party services as a business aims to maximize the utility of the app for customers. Adding new payment options would be a great example.
It’s important for businesses to filter through app reviews to monitor customer sentiments regarding what features customers desire. Reviews ought to be a major resource in the research & development teams’ brainstorming sessions.
5. Marketing Activities
Marketing-related activities will form a big part of an app’s annual maintenance costs. The business will often have laid out publicity before or around the launch of the app. This includes paid social media campaigns, publicity pieces in mainstream media, and influencers. Marketing efforts must be sustained throughout the life of an app.
When new features are introduced in the app, it’s important to carry out a campaign to inform people of the feature and educate them on how to use it. The business needs a content strategy to cater to the different target audiences. While influencers might work for some audiences, there are people who prefer to read a long-form article on what the new version of an app offers.
Depending on concerns people might have about business apps, putting out content helps address such issues. If a discussion on data privacy and information security is trending in the business sector, the business might do well to allay fears that users might have around the same. Marketing activities can build up goodwill from the users of an app.
6. Servers, Analytics, and Notifications
Unless you are self-hosting, your business will pay for hosting services from a reputable provider. Working with first-class service providers offers the assurance of security and maximum uptime.
Your business app will use third-party analytics services, such as Google Analytics, to monitor traffic sources, app use time, and usage trends. This information is useful for the continuous development of the app. It would be useful to see the module from which most users exit the app. Perhaps there may be something wrong with it. The business will also see features users interact most with and build around them. The traffic sources inform marketing decisions and so forth.
How to Regulate App Maintenance Costs Post Launch
The costs of maintaining an app will heavily depend on the quality of work done during the development phase.
One of the main decisions made in development is whether to build a native app or a hybrid app. A native is built specifically for a particular environment, say Android or iOS. A hybrid app has one version across multiple platforms. The latter is great when building an app with few features. However, a feature-heavy app should have native versions built for different operating systems to ensure all features work as expected.
During development, businesses must determine what makes up their minimum viable product (MVP) and build around it. Including only the most important features in an app can reduce initial development costs. According to research done by the Standish Group, 45% of app features are not used while another 19% are rarely used. Building an MVP app, therefore, will lead to lower maintenance costs, by having features that add real utility to users’ experience.
As shown, developers will often advise their clients to budget for maintenance even before the development process starts. Following this route can significantly reduce the amount a business spends on maintenance. Having the team that built the app initially maintain an app throughout its lifetime reduces complexities and maintenance hours spent because they already understand its architecture.
Does Your Business Need Help with App Development and Maintenance?
If your business is looking to develop an app, we can help with the planning, development, and maintenance of the app. NS804 is a premier mobile app development firm, with great experience helping companies get the best from their business apps.
We will help you optimize your maintenance budget to improve your customer satisfaction rates through swift bug fixes, regular updates, and new features. For more information, reach out to us through our website.