The business world is shifting to a digital battleground with e-commerce stores and the development of a mobile application; there are always things that businesses should avoid. According to Seagate, Two-thirds of all global CEOs will start focusing on digital strategies to improve customer experience by the end of 2019.
When entering the world of mobile app development, businesses often choose the cheapest option for cost-cutting. While this does save them some money in the short-run, it can be a double-edged sword in most cases.
App development is not a cheap venture, and if you’re getting the opportunity to get an app developed at a lower price, there are most likely downsides to it. Let’s discuss some of these downsides and how cheap mobile app development could kill your business.
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Cheap app development practices
A simple thought experiment is needed here. In any field of the world, experts charge far more for their services than those that are new to an industry. This is because they understand the value of their work and assure quality.
Why would this be any different in the world of app development? The average cost of getting an application developed is $25,000 – $50,000. This price can fluctuate depending on the complexity of the task.
In the United States of America, an experienced iOS developer will charge you around $130/hour. While this might change based on the location of the developers, the average per hour industry rate is still about $95/hour in America and Europe.
So if you’re getting your app developed at $18/hour or $25/hour, you have to assume you’re missing out on something important. By paying less in cash, you’re paying more by compromising on quality, functionality, and smooth user experience.
Let’s understand how some app development options are cheaper and their practices.
1. Ready-made solutions or template app builders:
Ready-made solutions are existing codes that are just reused to work together in bits and pieces. These are pre-set codes that provide specific functionality that your application might require, but they might not be coded to work in cohesion.
This means that the development company you hired is saving time and not developing your application from the ground up. This can often lead to certain functions that are interdependent to not work in unison.
This existence of a broken link can lead to your application having the right User Interface but not a functioning back-end that’s tied to the UI. What appears to be a functioning app on the front-end might act as a shell for a hollow back-end.
2. Outsourcing work to freelancers
One of the biggest reasons a business owner hires an app development company is because they have a dedicated team for each department. Companies take pride in a specialized team for front-end, back-end, design, and Quality Assurance (QA).
Often, development companies outsource projects to freelancers who charge way less and quote the price of their standards.
This is malpractice on two fronts. First, companies misquote to increase their profit margin but also misrepresent the fact that a team is working on a project.
The problem here is that freelance jobs are often one-person work, and it doesn’t provide the same quality. This is because a singular person is responsible for both the back-end and front-end, the UI and UX design, and quality assurance.
A team with dedicated resources can spend far more time in their area of expertise than one individual who has to divide his time between them. This reduces the creativity on the design side, affects the timeline of a project, and lead to bugs that haven’t been cleared by a Quality Assurance team, properly.
3. Under-qualified or less experienced resources
In the best-case scenario, if you’re getting an app developed at a cheap rate, your project is assigned to junior resources.
This is not, by any definition, malpractice. A company or agency has multiple layers of resources, some experts and some junior.
When companies charge less, it’s mostly because they have under-qualified or less experienced developers. These developers don’t have the years of experience behind them that informs their judgment and approach to problem-solving.
While this does not mean that junior resources are not good enough to functionally develop your application, although it could affect the level of optimization the app has. Experienced developers understand how to improve the loading speed on an app, create workarounds for potential problems, in-built within the infrastructure.
These are advanced techniques that are less likely to be a part of a junior developer’s skill set. As an owner trusting a company, speak to the developers directly. Discuss your project to assess their level of comfort with the requirements before you start development.
This will give you a fair idea of their expertise and help you choose the right development partner for your mobile application development project.
How cheap app development hurts user experience and impacts your business:
Let’s understand the importance of a mobile application. For businesses, this is an opportunity to expand to the global market. It is a part of your brand identity, values, and persona. It showcases your expertise and is a platform for direct engagement with your target audience.
As such, it is also responsible for your reputation within the market and helps establish trust within your brand. Cheap mobile development can hurt your brand’s image and impact your market share significantly. These are some of the harms that can hurt user experience and force users to abandon your mobile application.
These problems will negatively affect your revenue generation, long-term growth of your brand, and your ability to scale.
1. Limited functionality
Mobile applications that are pre-built or built on drag-and-drop platforms often have limited functionalities. Working under these limitations reduce the value that each function of the application can provide.
For example, a template function that allows you to schedule a meeting is a great tool to have on an application. But, this function might not allow you to add a location on maps or set a reminder within the application for that meeting.
A custom-built solution, albeit more costly, can provide that functionality to your users to give a more holistic user experience.
These limited functionalities can often force users to exit the application to set a reminder on the native mobile application or any other app they use. This break in a user’s flow due to functional limitation is harmful to the user experience.
Ideally, you would want users to start and complete a task they intend to do on the application in one go. This is what a swift and convenient user experience promises, and a template-based solution might not give you that.
2. Bugs or Crashes
If an application keeps crashing or has glitches, it can significantly affect a user’s mood. It can be frustrating and annoying to reopen the application, especially if these crashes happen at an essential stage of their use.
It can delay the task they are doing and reset the progress they’ve made. These issues have to be solved in development or during QA, and the lack of this check can be detrimental.
One reason this can happen is because of a lack of a link between the front-end and the back-end. This can force users to look for alternative solutions to your application to utilize platforms that provide the same functions but without the trouble of bugs and crashes.
Due to this, your target audience can leave your platform for a competitor, reducing your market share and negatively impacting your revenue generation.
3. Lack of Personalization
We’ve already talked about template-based designs and how they are limited in their functionality, but one aspect of cheap mobile app development, custom or template-based, is the lack of personalization.
In the modern age, users are used to personalization. From Facebook Timelines, Twitter feeds to suggestions on e-commerce applications, everything is designed for you.
Moreover, the User Interface and the design elements are made and placed according to prior research on the preference of a specific target audience.
Within smaller teams or freelancers, this research is often missing, or the necessary customization to a template isn’t made. This can make the application feel harder to use. Why is that bad?
Firstly because the idea of a mobile application is to deliver convenience and the lack of it eliminates that value proposition. Users don’t like to do more; they want things to be presented on a platter.
Second, it goes against industry standards. Personalization is part of every industry, and the more consumers are used to it, the less likely they are to find workarounds in their absence. Users will most likely abandon the application without looking too much into it.
According to Accenture, 33% of consumers who ended their relationship with a company last year did so because the experience wasn’t personalized enough. That’s one-third of a company’s market, which makes up a sizeable amount of the overall revenue.
This is why user experience and personalization hold so much value in the app development world. As the number of choices and alternatives rises, the flimsier user loyalty and patience is, and your application should keep that into account.
4. Slow loading speed
This is a classic problem, not just with applications but with websites or any other service in the world. Time is crucial, and people hate waiting.
The lack of back-end optimization and cache can lead to extensive waiting periods between loading screens. If you’re providing a service via your application, a slow loading time can be your biggest problem.
The company you trust with your app development project needs to be able to optimize the application to provide a swift user experience. This quality comes with money and an experienced team. If an application compromise on this to save a quick buck, it can damage their long-term progress, hurt customer acquisition, and hurt your brand reputation.
Businesses that have stable revenue generation are also brands that have an excellent reputation in the market. These brands are trusted by their target audience for providing exceptional services with convenience and quality assurance.
The same standards hold true for mobile applications. Think of it yourself, how many mobile applications have you downloaded from the app store and then deleted only a few days after using or immediately? Why did you choose to not stick with them?
Mobile applications exist in a marketplace full of other apps that promise the same services. The quality of your mobile application decides if users stick with your application or choose an alternative. The sort of quality that sets your application apart comes with a cost and to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of a “cheap mobile app development” advertisement that is hurtful to your business, you should always consider choosing to spend more now, then not generating profit in the future.
Ryan is an avid tech enthusiast and Regional Partner at Tekrevol, Houston, a leading app development firm. He’s passionate about helping people through digital solutions, turning uncertainty into reality. As such, his expertise includes data analysis, business strategy development, strategic marketing, asset management, and portfolio management. When he’s not at work, Ryan likes hanging out at Freebirds Burrito, sharing his love for the Houston Rockets with friends and colleagues.