Product Design - leap off the page on the over-saturated market
Discovering the real needs
In the described challenging environment, product design gains extreme significance and results in the wide application of methodologies and processes based on a user-centered approach like Design Thinking or Design Sprint. The CB Insights research seems to confirm this showing that the biggest pain point of startups that failed was not enough awareness of the real market needs.
But what does exactly provide a well-designed app that satisfies the users? In general, a flawless navigation, engaging interactions, and the information presented in a clear, easy to absorb way. But there are hundreds of elements and details of web apps that all together, and every each of them separately, shape great user experience and build the loyalty of the users. They need to be adjusted to the specification of the product, up-to-date design trends (users prefer what they can currently see around!) and also - the multiplicity of devices within which the app will be used. The responsiveness is just more than a must today.
Achieving the business goals
Another challenge in the UX/UI part of web application development is to meet the user’s needs and fulfill business requirements at once. Product design has to support achieving business goals not only deliver aesthetic User Interface or provide user-friendliness. Unless we’re making a pro-bono, free to use solution, the most essential purpose of building the app is to earn money (even when not directly but by supporting the main activity of the company). There should always be some metrics set to deem we succeed or verify if we develop in the right direction and at a satisfactory pace. Designers need to take them into consideration as well as users’ behavior and habits. All of the business requirements should be gathered at the beginning of the product design process, preferably within workshops moderated by professionals and involving the team responsible for further building or developing the solution.
Product Design Workshops can also help with the other obstacles of companies basing their businesses on the web application like creating MVP and raising capital for the project. In an over-saturated market, fast development is the key to overtake rivals especially when our product meant to be innovative and disrupting.
Spoilt for choice - tech stack tailored for the project
Wide range, big dilemmas
In the pre-production stage of the web application development process, we should not only think through the architecture of the app, user stories or digital product’s business model. To prepare a prototype that will gain us investors, set the details of the MVP or choose the best ways to develop an existing app we need to be aware of the current state of available web technologies. Today’s range is much wider than just a few years ago. It supports the customization and tailoring solutions to the project’s needs but at the same time, the plethora of languages, frameworks, and libraries is making the choice of the most relevant tech stack complex and burdensome.
To compose the ultimate set of technologies we have to consider a number of issues. First of all - what is the stage of web application development? If we create it from scratch we’ve got many more options to take into account then when we are about scaling the app or refactoring the code. Developing the already existing product usually imposes using a particular language or framework but sometimes with the change of business needs or the end of support for the solutions we used, the tech stack needs to be reevaluated. The migration often boils down to rewriting the whole app like in the case of migrating from AngularJS - a framework created and eventually abandoned by Google.
Tech Battles - read and compare:
What else to consider?
The stage of product development is only the first factor to consider while choosing the tech stack. Another one is the goal behind creating the app and the industry it represents. There’re different technologies for apps containing sophisticated animations and different for advanced machine learning-fuelled features. Some solutions work efficiently within monolith architecture while others are perfectly suited for microservices.
Last but not least - the popularity and maturity of the technology. These attributes are pivotal for startups that have to build MVP in a flash and operate within a limited budget. However, they also translate to the number of add-ons and tools which simplify the coding and make the development more cost-effective and less timeconsuming. It’s also important to realize that the date of the first release on its own doesn’t mean so much without other information showing the current engagement of the community like a number of stars and forks on GitHub and the date of the last commit. Still, an older, battle-tested, and well-explored technology is, in most cases, less risky than a complete novelty.
Fast and Scalable - the two drivers for successful web application development
Meet the need for speed
The users of different apps, no meter if mobile or web ones, have one thing in common - they hate waiting. And they won’t if the load time exceeds 2 seconds. Poor performance also impacts SEO so if it’s too slow, content and growth efforts might get wasted and the web app will not be ranked as high as it should.
The apps packed with content, processing massive amounts of data or embellished with animations are exceptionally at the risk of long loading time. The irony is, users expect feature- and media-rich applications filled with microinteractions and videos. Raising to this challenge requires taking a closer look at the main suspects for slowing down the web app: low-quality code, un-Optimized Databases, Traffic spikes, faulty DNS queries and many more. There’s plenty of solutions on the frontend as well as backend development to deal with them and improve the performance, just to mention lazy loading and server-side rendering.
Prepare for growth
We won’t exaggerate if we call scalability the most paramount challenge of today’s web app development. Preparing the app for growth involves taking a series of demanding steps to ensure it will be capable to develop the way we plan it. And that’s the starting point in designing scalability - thinking through the future of the app and forecast the needs and changes.
Technically, there are two approaches to scalability:
- Horizontal (scale-out) - adding the next machines to the current resources.
- Vertical (scale-up) - extending the capability of the machine (CPU/RAM/DISK).
A long-term strategy should assume picking a proper database engine and schema, implementing approaches that support keeping a high quality of the code (like Test-Driven Development), applying modern development practices - Continuous Integration, Delivery and Deployment to boost the efficiency of processes and that’s just the beginning. To handle increased traffic, business expansion, and the need for adding new features and content, we also have to bet on technologies with the biggest scaling potential and cloud-native solutions.
The talent gap - finding a development dream team
Where have all the developers gone?
With the right people, technical or business challenges are easier to face. The point is - it’s just extremely hard to find them in software development. The problem has its roots in multiple circumstances.
First of all - there’s a huge demand for programming-related jobs across all the industries, not only the IT on its own. The extensive and dynamic processes of digitalization and automatization are making this demand even bigger and compounding an already huge talent gap.
That’s the next source of the problem with finding software developers. Notwithstanding the number of university graduates, participants of programming bootcamps and online courses is growing, there’re still not enough of them to fulfill the market needs. What’s more - not all of them can program professionally as it requires specific skills and interests. Although everyone can learn to code, not everyone is meant to be a proficient software engineer. And the companies’ expectations are high - wide knowledge about technologies is the basis but what makes a developer stand out is the ability to use it in creative solving the problems.
Searching for a reliable partner
All those obstacles translated to the growing popularity of outsourcing web application development. Researches show that two out of three companies have taken this opportunity at least once and only about 18% of them weren’t satisfied with the results. IT outsourcing can save a lot of time and money and also help to avoid the hidden cost of hiring in-house developers if only the evaluation of software partners is done with the comprehensively and deliberately.
The whole process should include not only the comparison of price offers but also verifying the communication tools and best practices the vendors use, the business maturity showed in tried and true processes, the range of services and offered cooperation models. To learn about evaluating vendors see our extensive guide about finding a reliable software development partner.
Struggling with web application development challenges? See how we helped companies to face them!