If they’re to compete with their larger counterparts, small businesses must provide customers with the range of services they’ve come to expect—and that includes a well-functioning mobile app. Building a well-designed mobile app from the ground up can be a resource-intensive process, leaving smaller businesses with limited time and budget room when it comes time to update it with new features.
Still, it’s possible to refresh a mobile app without breaking the bank (or your tech team’s backs). Below, 12 industry leaders from Forbes Technology Council share practical, affordable strategies for updating a mobile app.
1. Start with ‘if’ and ‘how’ it still adds value.
Tech democratization is making more and better tools available over time, either for free, with free tiers or at affordable rates. See what you can use and focus the rest of your resources on truly creating value that doesn’t exist otherwise. Whether that means retiring the app entirely or investing in amplifying its real core, be pragmatic about it. – Diana Xhumari, Tegeria
2. Work backward from the CX.
Start with the customer experience and work backward. Speak to customers directly and get their feedback. Observe how users are interacting with your mobile app, and then identify the optimal changes that can be made to benefit your customers or make their experience more seamless, convenient and engaging. Focus on making those changes first. – Jonathan Hoyles, Perk Labs Inc.
3. Ensure easy access to information.
I would pay particular attention to the user interface and the overall effort required by the end-user to access information. A simple logo or color scheme refresh can make the app feel new again. Folks want convenience and little effort, so the quicker they can get into the app, access the pertinent information and move on, the happier they will be. – BJ Sievers, Cedar Point Federal Credit Union
4. Consider the user’s perspective.
The attention span of users is getting shorter, and they have an increased expectation of a great user experience with low latency. Enhancing UX would be a great way to start. Ensure the app is still a viable channel and addresses the needs of customers. Plan to update the UX from the perspective of potential users’ behaviors and social styles. The goal should be to provide a 5G-powered, rich UX with the least possible steps. – Gaurav Aggarwal, Avanade Inc.
5. Figure out what the actual users are asking for.
Often, mobile app overhauls are led by the tech team, who want to improve various feature sets that they care about—even if those features are only used by 1% of users (or none). If you’re going to do updates, make sure customers care about them and they can be validated by data usage. – Vaclav Vincalek, Future Infinitive
6. Ensure it responds to users’ actual behavior.
Optimizing mobile usability would be a great way to renovate your small-business app without making drastic changes. This can be as simple as UX testing, including making sure the app’s functions are responding properly to the actions of mobile users. Anything that would improve your app’s UX—such as navigation, text display, screen rotation and more—is a great way to refresh your app. – Yenn Lei, Calendar
7. Focus on enhancing accessibility.
Make sure to add new accessibility features to your mobile app so that you can provide easy usage for people with different disabilities and, of course, widen your reach. Many of the accessibility improvements are relatively easy to implement but can significantly impact the way people use and perceive your app. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround
8. Freshen up the design.
You don’t have to build the whole thing again from scratch to make it much better. You can design a new look that is more attractive and intuitive than the original and that includes more features and information. This way it attracts customers by being both fresher looking and easier to use (they get what they want more quickly), leaving your backend code mostly unchanged. – Richard McLain, INE
9. Opt for a white-label update.
Consider doing a white-label app update using an app developed by another company in your segment. It’s a great way to test audience response and collect insights without investing months into upfront development by your own team. If the app performs well, you can upgrade it more extensively down the road. – Gergo Vari, Lensa, Inc.
10. Update the App Store and Google Play pages.
I would recommend updating your app’s App Store and Google Play pages. Change the description or screenshots to be more visible in a search. Also, you can tweak your in-app design with limited resources—for instance, just change the color scheme or login page. Try new things there and see how it helps upgrade your conversion rate. – Aleksandr Pasykov, Hily Corp.
11. Consider low-code/no-code platforms for more intensive changes.
Like everything in IT, apps become obsolete at some point, and incremental enhancements become more and more problematic. Refactoring and redesigning may be necessary. One way to go about it is to consider low-code/no-code platforms, which cut the development cost with acceptable tradeoffs in most cases. – Laurent Philonenko, Servion Global Solutions
12. Leverage a cross-platform development tool.
Using a cross-platform development tool such as Microsoft’s Xamarin will free up resources, shorten the development time and reduce the time developers spend on reworks and mobile OS adaptability. With Xamarin, you can target all platforms and deliver native Android, iOS and Windows apps with a single shared .NET codebase. It is also free and open source. – Adi Ekshtain, Amaryllis Payment Solutions