EngineeringDecember 16, 2014

App development: Planning for the long term

Long-term thinking is valuable when trying to meet any goal, and app development is no exception. However, long-term can be as short as a few weeks.

Imagine the time and energy it takes to implement 10 vendor SDKs for your mobile app. Now imagine implementing those 10 vendors with just one SDK.

Pretty amazing, right?

In a mobile development cycle you face:

  • Not being able to make changes until you pass the App Store gate
  • Everyone on your team pushing to get their changes in
  • A frantic pace to squash bugs and add features.

The list goes on.

Development cycles for mobile can be frantic because unlike web apps, which live on the backend on a server, mobile apps live on the device itself. Quick and frequent changes, therefore, can’t happen.

So, the time before launch is crucial to everyone on the team. Before a build gets pushed, you have to be sure that your decisions along the way were thoughtful and thorough, because new changes don’t happen overnight. (Repeat pushes can even upset your rankings.)

Long-term thinking is valuable when trying to meet any goal, and mobile is no exception. However, because the app world moves so fast, long-term can be as short as a few weeks.

We see developers working to add new features before they’ve even begun tracking. And tracking is done in order to learn which features will be the most valuable. As we’ve mentioned, not collecting data leads to wasted time in the long run and no insight into your usage.

Prioritize engineering time

The smartest thing you can do when you have little time before launch is to minimize your developers’ time after launch. You can do this with tagging and tracking. Tagging your app and using data integration solutions doesn’t provide an immediate ROI, but over the long term, you’ll save an immense about of time when you’re making changes because you’ll know exactly how people are and aren’t using your application.

The last thing you want to find yourself doing before pushing a build is thinking about SDKs and working out all the integrations. This can be a nightmare for even your best devs.

The benefits of data integrated solutions:

  • Sampling different SDK vendors and keeping costs down
  • Tagging your app once = less time on devs
  • Trying additional features like audience segmentation
  • Switching effortlessly between vendors (we love the data sampling feature of mParticle)
  • Making changes server side that were previously only allowed client side.

Again, tagging and tracking doesn’t necessarily provide an immediate ROI, but it’s the smartest way to start saving time and money and operating smarter as soon as a few weeks later.

Rishi Sethi is founder and president at Method Mill, a New York-based agency that optimizes mobile apps by applying a proven, data framework to increase key metrics.

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