Speed to market is a critical factor for businesses facing stiff competition.
You can build products of the highest quality, but if someone beats you to market – even with a less capable product – you may never have the opportunity to show how great yours is.
This is true for all business products, including custom apps. That’s why Big Fish makes shortening the time from concept to launch a key ingredient in every app we develop.
If you’re considering having an app created for your business, here are four ways to get an app to market as quickly as possible.
1. Create a Prototype
Prototypes (preliminary visual mockups) may not be as sexy as code, but they are a lot less expensive and time consuming to revise as your app goes through multiple iterations.
Prototypes are not finished products, but they give you the opportunity to make revisions to the user experience (UX) and features set based on feedback from users and stakeholders.
Changes to prototypes can be made quickly, while changes to code take time, sometimes a lot of time. The prototyping process allows you to figure out exactly what you need before you start developing. As carpenters like to say, “Measure twice, cut once.”
The time spent in pre-development might be a little longer than if you were to rush into development, but the development process will be significantly shorter, enabling you to get your app to market faster.
Begin with a simple black and white prototype that allows you to focus on form, function and UX without getting distracted by colors and branding. How an app looks is important, but if you want to get it to market fast, focus on how it works and how people use it before you worry about how it looks in full color.
With each iteration you learn from user and stakeholder feedback about things that don’t work on a screen quite the way you expected them to. You then refine the prototype accordingly, quickly and inexpensively.
As you lock down the UX and features, amplify the fidelity of the prototype and iterate decisions about aesthetic design, colors and branding.
If you need funding to fully develop the app, pitch the high-fidelity prototype to your investors. They are used to that.
One Big Fish client used their high-fidelity prototype as sales collateral for their new product, turning their prototype into pre-production orders. Perhaps prototypes can be kind of sexy after all.
2. Start with Your MVP
At Big Fish, our MVP – by a unanimous vote – is the Minimum Viable Product.
With an MVP, instead of weighing down your app with every feature you can dream up, you prioritize features and stick to those that are absolutely necessary. Not only will you make the app easier to use, you’ll also cut development costs and time to market substantially.
From a development perspective, this requires discarding the traditional waterfall model where each step in the model – requirements analysis > design > coding > testing > maintenance — cascades to the next, but all chained to the initial requirements analysis.
Instead, adopt a more simple, circular and iterative approach. Reduce your requirements to the bare minimum and then: plan > develop > test > release > evaluate > repeat until your MVP app is working as intended.
In this faster model, “release” is the fourth step. In the waterfall model, it doesn’t appear at all.
Best of all, you’ve eliminated months and months of costly development for features that likely will never be used.
Once the MVP version of the app is in the marketplace, earning user acceptance and receiving user feedback, add new features that address the market’s needs.
Keep repeating the process and your MVP is sure to be a winner.
3. Hire an Experienced Team
The breadth, depth and years of experience on the team you hire can make or break the success of your custom app, including how quickly you get it to market.
That’s why the Big Fish team has more than 100 years of combined experience and includes specialists in software architecture, iOS development, Android development and quality assurance.
Saving a few dollars by hiring a development team where some of the members lack experience is a bit like hiring a surgical team fresh out of school instead of the team that has been performing this operation successfully, together, every day, for seven years. Is your business’s health worth the risk?
This is just recognizing that in any field – medicine, law, technology, etc. – if two people have the equivalent toolset and aptitude, the one with the most experience will usually work faster and make fewer mistakes.
If speed to market matters, hire an experienced team.
4. Create Structure Around the Planning Process
All too often a company decides they need an app, and then tries to figure out the details on their own. They spend months (or years) contemplating what they want instead of hiring the team that can help them through the process.
This is an example of the perfect being the enemy of the good. It’s no way to get an app to market quickly.
If you don’t have an internal planning structure that moves you from idea to development in a short amount of time, hire a team that provides the structure you need.
Big Fish offers two services to get you moving in the right direction:
- Discovery & Strategic Planning
- Rapid Prototyping
Each service is designed to help you move from idea > ready to develop in less than three weeks.
When speed to market matters, it’s important to work with a team that has a structured process in place to guide you from idea, to development, to launch.
Quick Final Thoughts
- Getting your app to market quickly is a necessity, but it shouldn’t be a hardship
- Following the four steps in this article replaces chaos and anxiety with a proven process that gets your apps to market quickly
- If you need help making these steps work for you, contact us at Big Fish