The power of mobile apps is being felt across a vast array of different industries, ranging from retail and transportation all the way to beauty and healthcare. In fact, following the unique challenges presented to us in 2020, app development and user experience came to the forefront of global commerce, with more big companies asking how innovation in digital channels can work for them.
Of course, app development is no easy feat for smaller businesses for a myriad of reasons that includes app development costs as well as all the specialised research and manpower that tends to go into app development.
There are essentially two avenues available for small companies when it comes to app development: local (or onshore) development and offshore development. Which is the best for your business? Read on to find out.
Local app development
With a local development team, you’ll be able to adequately describe your expectations of the app as well as define what role you’d like the app to play in your consumer’s personal life. You can be a hands-on participant in the design thinking process of your app’s development, meaning there will be significantly fewer chances of miscommunication that may negatively impact your final product.
The only glaringly transparent disadvantage to having a local team is that it tends to cost more to support a local development team or office than hiring offshore developers. If your business is a minimal operation, you may not have the funds to hire a qualified local team.
Offshore app development
If you’re looking to put together a small app with a simplistic design, an offshore developer may be the perfect fit for you. Similarly, if you may want to just put together a prototype to conduct UX or other market research, just to confirm if there is in fact a demand for your app, then consulting with an offshore developer can be a superb method of ensuring your product can still be made at a reasonable price. If you want to expand your concept from there, you can always then go on to hire a local team.
As an offshore developer is less likely to be able to communicate with you extensively throughout the app design process, you will also need to ensure that your app design plans are incredibly succinct and detailed. You may find that this level of meticulousness in planning can inherently support the development of your business plan and help you finetune your elevator pitch to potential investors. The worst thing that any entrepreneur can do is muddle their own mission statement. If you work with an offshore developer, the chances are high that you’ll know exactly what that mission is, as well as exactly what your product offers consumers, as it will have been imperative to find the perfect words on day one of your app’s development.
As communication can be an advantage with offshore developers, it can equally be a great disadvantage as well. There are countless instances where offshore developers have produced subpar work simply because of miscommunication and potentially even apathy. It can be tricky to get detailed project updates from offshore developers, which means that on occasion, business owners have waited weeks for work only for it to be returned incomplete and at a level that may be considered below your organization’s expectations. It must be said, however, that the risks associated with hiring offshore developers can largely be mitigated by conducting independent research on any developers you may be interested in. Ask for their portfolios and hunt up any references if you’re not feeling absolutely certain about taking on any offshore developer.
What else to consider?
As is the case with any digital start-up, you’ll need to think a lot about your plans for expansion and essentially what you’ll like the future of your company to look like. If you’re hoping to invest in more overheads and see yourself eventually putting together an office space for all your in-house employees, do you want to have your app development team be a part of this environment? If you opt for offshore development, this nature may not be a possibility for you.
Alongside the expansion, it’s also worth considering maintenance costs of your app, such as server fees, third-party email hosting fees, and other services that may be relevant to the ongoing maintenance of your mobile app. Not only should you factor these costs into your budget, but you should also consider how you’d like to keep track of these ongoing costs. With an in-house team, you may find keeping track of these costs a much simpler task. You just need to assess whether or not this simplification is worth the extra names on your payroll.
Regardless of which path you choose, be sure to conduct extensive UX research prior to releasing your app to ensure that your finished product doesn’t just engage your consumer base but also generates real-world results.