Faster and Half the Cost: Mobile App Development Advice

by | Jul 22, 2019

LitsLink is a software development company that frequently completes mobile apps 30% to 50% faster than the competition. We can build a minimum viable product (MVP) of an Uber-like app in 1500-2000 hours, compared to our competitors’ average of 3500-4000. For marketplaces, we often complete an application that works on both iOS and Android in only 1000 hours. How?

We have already delivered many products in a multitude of industries, including popular business products like marketplaces, social networks, and Uber-alikes. We know the answers to key questions, like:

  • What are the technological options?
  • Which features should be included and which should be avoided?
  • What does an MVP look like?
  • What about a production version?

Additionally, a senior software engineer can frequently solve the same problems 10x or 50x faster than a junior software engineer, so we exclusively employ senior engineers and architects.

We typically work with well-funded startups or small/midsize businesses either creating their first MVP or migrating that MVP to an initial production version. We’re very flexible, able to start work on projects at a low threshold--we’ve built high-quality, successful apps for as little as $35K. We love starting work with a client early, helping them grow, and then continuing to support them after their app has hundreds of thousands of users and millions in revenue.

Our expertise

Our founder is a serial entrepreneur with an inventor’s mindset. Before founding LitsLink, he had created several products. Each time, he had trouble finding a decent team at a reasonable price level that delivered high-quality product with a small threshold of entry. With this in mind, he started LitsLink.

Since then, LitsLink has had half the company work on our own projects and half providing services for others. Over 5 years, we’ve launched more than 5 of our own products. Because we’re on both sides—entrepreneurs and service providers—we’re better able to understand what the startup owners need.

Mobile and web development

We specialize in mobile and web apps since they account for most digital products. Even augmented reality and virtual reality, for instance, are usually for a mobile device.

We have a department that specializes in machine learning and AI, one that focuses on augmented/virtual reality, one that works on cleantech and blockchain, and a team for development operations, such as supporting and monitoring launched products.

We’re currently focusing on mobile solutions rather than web. (And for us, as I mentioned, mobile includes AI, AR/VR, IoT, and more.)

A narrow technology stack

Two technologies--React Native and Flutter--bring an outsized value for founders. We focus on these technologies because they can take an idea all the way from conception to millions of users (and Series B or C).

In mobile development, our most valuable benefit is one of the world’s best teams in cross-platform technologies. In these areas, top companies like Facebook may compete with us on ability, but not most companies, and certainly not service providers.

We become leaders in these areas in part because we dove head first into using them immediately. The first month that React Native was released, we started two projects using the tech. Flutter tells a similar story.

Our process, from product to production

After years of developing projects, we employ a consistent process, taking a founder from concept to completion.

1. Discovery and vision

We start each project by talking with founders to understand their short-term goals and long-term vision.

2. Choose a technology

We’ve developed basic flowcharts that suggest the correct technology to achieve a business’ goals. This is especially helpful for founders who might get inappropriately interested in big buzzwords like blockchain and machine learning.

We sometimes question whether a company even needs to build their own technology, when a technology from IBM/Microsoft/Google/Amazon would suffice (Many people don’t know that these companies’ cloud services provide a host of valuable tools.)

3. Understand user experiences

Before building anything—even a wireframe—our UX and UI designers research our clients’ consumers to develop a vision for the audience and analyse trends:

  • What color schemes do they like?
  • What user friendliness can we include?

We always aim to require the fewest number of interactions before a user reaches their goal. Uber started a trend of requiring three clicks to call a taxi. Now, every app has the same expectation.

Challenges for startups, from concept to market

LitsLink case studies of mobile apps.
LitsLink has a large variety of case studies that vary in different industries.

Designing an app is difficult. I’ve listed common challenges at each step along the way.

1. Understand the technical solution

The first danger for a startup is understanding the technical solution:

  • What do they need to build?
  • What technology stack should they use?

Having a CTO or technical consultant can provide a huge benefit. Without any technical experience or advisors, founders often rely on Google or the market. They may speak with 20 companies and receive 20 different suggestions.

I frequently meet teams that made a wrong decision early on and pay for it later. It’s easy to start working with an inexpensive company that ultimately create a product at all. The majority of product development services companies don’t guarantee delivery, so the incompetent ones may leave the customer holding the bag.

2. Work according to a process

The process of software development is very straightforward. You start with the discovery stage, user space, and feature list. Next you move into preparation, wireframes, feature descriptions, user stories, phone charts, and pre-development paperwork. Then, you should complete your designs, all before writing a single line of code.

Deviations from this standard process can be time-intensive and expensive, often costing 30-50% extra.

3. Really: complete your designs before writing any code

I strongly recommend everyone complete the final, high-fidelity visual designs of their app before starting coding. It’s very tempting to jump the gun. Don’t. If you don’t do the design properly, you won’t have clarity on what to build. Finishing designs while coding is like building a house while you’re still finishing up the blueprints. Only when you have the final designs can you understand what each element requires.

4. Define your priorities

Every founder at an early stage company wants everything all the time. If you prioritize every feature, you prioritize nothing. What needs to exist for the first release? For many industries, LitsLink has produced some templates that help a founder determine what’s important now and what can be pushed to later.

5. Just because it’s built doesn’t mean you’re done

Assuming development went smoothly, quality assurance and launch can still pose problems. When performed poorly, you can miss deadlines, launch with bugs, and receive bad reviews from initial users.

Then, once it’s on the market, the app still needs support, maintenance, and updating. Many large companies don’t even know what to do with an app after launch.

Fortunately, startups typically don’t need many updates. They just need the app to work. But that means someone should always be monitoring your app, there to turn elements back on if they switch off.

6. Prepare for growth

After the product is launched and has users, many companies think the process is complete. They’re unaware how many companies crumble under rapid growth.

Technical growth problems typically come down to architecture--the server infrastructure is either poorly designed or has scalability issues. These pitfalls can even be fundamental to the technology, requiring the major challenge of immigration to a different technology.

Technological immigration needs to be done carefully, with deliberate, pinpointed timing. I’ve seen whole companies vanish—even though they had excellent growth—because they couldn’t make an update within the timeframe, which is typically just a few months.

7. Hire the right team

My advice to every company looking for development services is to get an estimation in hours, feature-by-feature, as transparent as possible. Then check that estimation with technical advisors. That’s the only way to find out if the development company knows what they’re doing.

Startups can nail the business side and still fail for a myriad of technical reasons. There’s no replacement for working with experienced, competent, and reliable experts.

Want to build an app in record time? Check out LitsLink on the network.

A conversation with LitsLink Kharkiv director, Sergiy Tsymbal - written by Julian Wise.

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