Maintaining your App

The first three questions many of our clients ask us are:
1) How much to develop an app?
2) How do I patent my idea? and
3) How much will it cost to maintain my app?

To answer the first question we work with them to define the requirements but we always strongly recommend that, rather than building the Rolls Royce at launch, they start with the Corolla and keep funds available to quickly improve, adapt and pivot the app based upon its performance, usage and user feedback. No matter how much research you have done or how well you know your market, your first adopters will always use the app in a different way from what you expect and request features you haven't thought of.

The answer to the second question is, unfortunately, that it is very difficult to patent an app. An idea isn't patentable nor is software, unless it interacts with hardware (such as GPS, accelerometer, camera) in a unique and non-obvious way. Our advice (other than perhaps applying for a provisional patent which is easier to get) is to launch first, launch the best and keep improving. This is the second reason we strongly urge them to plan for multiple, quick enhancements to the app - to stay ahead of the competiion.

When clients ask the final question they are normally thinking there's a cost to keep the app working. Here we have better news. A well built app, especially on native platforms, shouldn't require much ongoing maintenance work. This should be limited to minor bug fixes that only become apparent through large public user testing and when new versions of iOS and Android are released. Although even then the app typically continues to work seamlessly if it has been built properly. More common are updates required when Apple and Google change polices rather than technologies. We offer a range of services to maintain and improve clients apps including:

  • Monthly or annual retainers where we allocate a fixed amount of hours per month to maintain and improve their apps. Every month we agree how these hours will be allocated to a prioritised list for maintenance or enhancements.
  • We can also quote for enhancements on a project-by-project basis.
  • For some clients we also provide second-line customer support based on agreed Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • We also have marketing retainers in place with some clients to run their acquisition campaigns for paid and unpaid advertising on Google, social media, PR etc.