We’ve come a long way since the static HTML pages that used to dominate the internet in the early 90s.
And just as web apps have become more sophisticated and interactive over time, so have the dreams of many entrepreneurs and business owners.
As of January 2020, there were 4,437,215,927 internet users spanning the globe. That’s a staggering 1 billion more than in 2016 alone! So it seems that as more people ditch their paper-based systems and dive into the efficiency of the technology-driven present, the demand for advanced and tailor-made web applications will continue to rise.
More companies every day are turning to web app development to drive their businesses towards increased success. Yet unfortunately, not everyone can hope to create web apps that are as widely adopted as the Google App Suite. Many growing companies aim to transform processes with innovative ideas that end up falling at the first hurdle. Being able to identify why this happens will help you avoid making the same mistakes, so you can turn your product into one of the best web apps on the market for your industry.
So why do apps fail, and what can you do to build a web app bound for success?
Reason 1: Getting Lost in the Game.
It’s so easy to get carried away with developing an app that you would like. Because of this, many entrepreneurs with great ideas lose sight of what their users actually need. Adding features for the sake of it doesn’t work. Neither does developing a product without conducting the necessary research on your audience beforehand.
Even technology giants like Google can sometimes get lost in their own priorities and lose sight of what their users want. Take Google Wave, for example, a web app for real-time communication and collaboration which launched in 2009 and closed down in 2010. Why? Because despite their success as a company, they chose to roll with an idea that was too similar to their social media rivals: Facebook. They were excited about the new features they were developing and failed to see that their idea was too similar to other products and just not what their users were looking for.
And although Google is large enough to have gotten over the miscalculation of their market, unfortunately, there are numerous smaller companies with far more original ideas, that have not been so lucky. So remember that research is key! Your idea might seem great, but make sure your audience feels the same way before you start developing, or your web app may be forced to join Google Wave in the hall of discontinued apps!
2) Trying to do too much.
Like most things in life, if you try to do too many things at once, you end up doing none of them well. No matter how brilliant your business plan is, if you don’t choose the core features needed and come up with your minimum viable product first, you’ll end up investing in too much too soon.
Being specific and offering a solution to a particular niche, has proven to be an extremely effective business model for many start-ups. The company Trivago stands as a great example of this. Focusing on the hotel industry specifically, this niche web app allows users to compare over 200 booking sites worldwide to find their ideal hotels at the best prices possible. Starting out the project from a garage in 2005, the founders of this hotel aggregator have grown their business exponentially over the last 15 years. They now have over 1,000 employees and the site is used in over 190 countries around the world. Why? Because they focused on one particular area, tested it out and then perfected it in order to become a leader in their specific field.
Companies like Devver on the other hand, keen to offer tips on why apps fail, admit that the outcome of their app – built to turn developers’ existing desktop tools into cloud-based services, may have gone differently if only they had started off by asking the right questions. If they had asked themselves for example, if there was a simpler version of their product that they could have delivered sooner, they would have learned more about pricing, market size, and technical challenges from the get-go. With such valuable information at their disposal, they would have been able to provide their users with the “simpler” application they had been hoping for all along.
So what’s the main takeaway to learn from these two web app examples? Develop your product, test it on your audience and strengthen it as you go. If you choose to add extra features, do so one by one, so as not to overwhelm your audience. If your users find your web app too complicated to understand, it won’t matter how brilliant your idea was, or how much your web app can help solve their problems. If you fail to engage your audience, your product won’t be around for long.
3) Failing to resonate with your audience.
Having a fantastic idea and turning it into reality is only the beginning of your journey towards success. The very best web apps provide more than an innovative product. What’s the point in creating a brilliant application, if your audience never knows it exists? A web app is successful initially because it’s sold well. It then stays popular because it’s built well and provides the answer to a specific problem. Businesses that focus on the purpose rather than the technicalities are the ones that go viral – we all like to believe in something after all.
Take Basecamp as a great example. From the way they position themselves on their website it’s clear from the get-go. They are not trying to convince you that their code is the clearest or that their company is the best on the market. Instead, they focus on YOUR progress, on reducing YOUR stress, and increasing YOUR team’s productivity. They focus on the USER and not the creator. And what’s more, they make you believe in the very purpose of the product, before answering any technical questions.
Everpix, on the other hand, stands as proof that having a great idea just isn’t enough. Sure, the product itself was unique – an app to sort and organize your photos and store them online. And yeah, the product worked wonders from a user’s perspective. But their team of developers were relying on Everpix to sell itself.
Without a solid marketing strategy to spread the word, even the most amazing ideas just won’t make it. As of January 2020, there were over 1.74 billion websites on the Internet. That’s more competition than you can bear to imagine. So if you don’t strategically plan how you will sell your app, how will your users ever find you? Remember to market your product right and make sure your users believe in your vision too. Don’t focus on the technology that makes your app so impressive. Rather aim to win the hearts of your audience by showing them how your web app can improve their lives.
4) Not willing to adapt to changing market trends
The nature of business is changing. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, customer and employee expectations are forever on the move. 9 out of 10 consumers would now like to use messaging to talk to businesses. And they’re not the only ones who want to be heard. Whether it’s at home or at work, we all want to know that our opinion matters. Businesses who aren’t willing to implement solutions that provide the answers to their users’ needs are heading in the wrong direction. No matter your size or your niche, if you want your company to survive in the long run, you need to be prepared to create or enhance existing web applications that utilize the latest technologies as well as facilitate more direct communication with your customers and your employees. Failing to adapt or demonstrate that you value your users’ opinions is a recipe for disaster.
A powerful example of great versatility and willingness to adapt, are the science and travel gurus from National Geographic. When their subscription revenue began to fall in 2009, it seemed like their fate was to join so many other print publications struggling to adapt to the era of digitalization. Instead, their team made strategic changes, revamping their website and catapulting their brand into the social media limelight, to reach new audiences. By making their content accessible across multiple channels, digital and printed, they have proven that some business ideas are worth holding on to.
As for a company failing to adapt to changing times – you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example than that of Blockbuster. In their prime, there were 9,000 Blockbuster stores around the world. Once valued at over $5 billion, this movie monopoly dominated the video business. Now, ten years after its closing, and with Netflix booming, it’s clearer than ever, that if you don’t adapt to changing trends or evolve with the latest technology, your success will not be long-standing.
By reflecting on what has and hasn’t worked for other companies who have tapped into web app development we can learn some valuable lessons that can help transform your idea into a product that stands the test of time. So before you get stuck into your project, just remember to:
- Conduct comprehensive research on your audience to ensure there is a demand for your idea and conduct web app testing to make sure your product works well before launching.
- Stick to one purpose, execute effectively and generate results before choosing to branch into any other areas.
- Make sure your message resonates with your target market and make your product easy for them to find.
- Be willing to adapt and evolve your initial idea in order to stay up-to-date and in-demand.
Designing, developing and marketing your innovative idea is no easy challenge. But if you follow best practices and learn from the mistakes of others, you have the power to transform the way your industry works. Believe in your vision and work with the right team to see your web application skyrocket towards success.