June 12, 2018

App DevelopmentSoftware DevelopmentMinneapolis App DevelopersMinnesota App Developersmobile app development

Developing a mobile app that can grow and scale with your startup begins with building a strong foundation.

If you missed “How to save a fortune on mobile app development: Part 1”, you can read it here.

Modular and scalable code.

Once you narrow down your digital product’s feature set to its core lovable features and have a fully thought through business model and prototype at your disposal, you now have many of the components you need to start developing it. Hopefully, you’ve also been able to raise enough investor capital with your prototype to cover the cost of development so that you don’t have to sell your soul to the devil to fund it yourself.

Other than funding, the primary challenge at this stage is laying the foundation for a live product that will be able to quickly and cost effectively change as market demands and user behavior changes. In order to achieve long-term sustainable success, your product will need to evolve with your users. This can’t be understated.

The problem is that far too often we come across codebases from other developers that are not built to support rapid updating. Unless the developer has gone through a massive scaling experience, it’s likely they write code that is difficult to scale as the product grows.

Avoid the huge costs associated with technical debt.  

Our team has scaled a product globally to support over 140 million daily active users and what we learned from that process is mind bending. Even software developers are subject to “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

Modular code vs Spaghetti code

Here’s why it’s important to you: the quality of a developer is on a spectrum, but ultimately, unless they’ve scaled a codebase, developers tend to write what is called “spaghetti code”. It is a term often used to describe a codebase that is overly complicated where one part of the code is dependent on another. Imagine pulling out a line of code, like pulling out a noodle in a bowl of spaghetti, only to have it break and alter completely unrelated parts of the codebase--you might fix one feature while in turn breaking another.

Spaghetti code is worse than it sounds. You’re incurring technical debt where the cost to update your codebase is so much that you can’t justify adding features or altering the user’s experience. As markets change (and they will) you slowly fall behind the competitors until it’s too late. In terms of products, a slow death is worse than a quick one.  

Modular code will save you a ton of cash.

There are different kinds of software engineers and the graph below shows a breakdown of their skill set. Good software architects are a rare find, expensive to hire, and worth their weight in gold. If they’ve scaled a product, they’ll be able to design your mobile app in a modular way that allows for rapid (a.k.a. cost effective) updating and scaling.

Software Engineer Talent Hierarchy

Instead of your code being like a bowl of spaghetti noodles all gnarled together, they should be like Lego blocks - small nodes that are independent of each other. This means that one small chunk of your code can be removed, replaced, tested, etc. seamlessly and efficiently.

Mobile app development quality takeaway.

I’ve seen good products fail because they didn’t get this right. I feel it in my gut every time and it’s completely unnecessary. When your product is live, not knowing how to write code in an extremely modular way isn’t an excuse that will make users feel sorry for you and stick around. They will move on to another product that is keeping up with their ever changing demand.

Cut scope not quality.

If you need to cut costs when it comes time to develop your mobile app, cut scope not quality, especially if it is the core of your business. Think of it like building a house. For example, let’s say you put all of this time and effort into designing the blueprint and the structure’s architecture, only to then skimp on materials and work with the cheapest contractor you could find. Next thing you know, the unfinished basement floor cracks down the middle, pipes are leaking in unrelated parts of the house and the company you hired forgot to insulate the master bedroom walls. The amount of time and money you end up spending on fixing easily avoidable problems from the start ends up costing you more than if you just had the job done right in the first place.

There is no running from the fact that mobile app development is an expensive process, like that of building a house, and we’ve witnessed time and time again the diminishing returns of sacrificing quality for lower costs. You can always make adjustments and iterations on a firm foundation, while building on shaky ground sets your product up for inevitable, costly repairs down the road and the potential of having to rebuild it from scratch. Save yourself the heartache and focus on building a lovable, scalable app from Day 1.

Who are we?

New Lion is an elite boutique digital product development and launch firm (or agency) in Minneapolis, MN. We’re passionate about designing and developing web and mobile apps that users love so much they can’t help but tell everyone they know about it. We are here to help your app idea be the next blockbuster - let’s talk!

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Written by Joseph Schlichting