It’s a great time to launch a web app.
The SaaS market alone has more than doubled since 2014 with a current value of more than $150 billion USD. It seems like success should come easily; design, develop, build up a community and ride the revenue stream straight into retirement. The problem is, there are a lot of clever people chasing the same dream. Releasing a successful web application requires a clearly defined strategy – a fully formed idea, audience insights, a trusted development team and effective pre & post launch marketing. Let’s dive into the specifics.
#1 Know Your Audience
Sounds obvious, right? You’d be amazed at how many web app entrepreneurs and SaaS providers rush to market confident in the universality of their idea. Even if your concept isn’t hemmed in by demographics, your user profile is still going to be built one registration at a time. You need to know your people going in:
- What’s their motivation for registering?
- What are their pain points?
- What types of design and functionality do they gravitate towards?
- How and where do they share information?
Your web app should react to their needs, not the other way around. So create ICPs (Ideal Customer Profiles) and use them to inspire your development and design choices right from the beginning.
#2 Start the UX/UI Journey by Thinking Like Your Ideal Customer
That’s a cool idea! will get you users. This is so helpful! will drive retention and renewals. Anticipating the needs of your users means getting into the minute details of their preferences. Your ultimate goal is to make their lives easier by giving them an intuitive website application with zero learning curve. You’ll have a team of professionals to guide you through the intricacies of the UX/UI journey, however, you can be an immense help to your design & development partners by simply identifying your own preferences.
- What are your favorite web apps?
- What makes them easy to use?
- What stands out about the design?
It’s not mimicry, it’s inspiration. Every seemingly unique UX/UI development is a new stage in a constantly-evolving industry. Put together a mood board and bring it to the pros.
#3 Trust Your Design & Development Partners
A good web designer will use a mood board as a foundation rather than a strict set of guidelines. A good web development team will play off the designer’s ideas, and their own experience, to give the web application flawless functionality. A good web app entrepreneur will recognize the importance of incorporating the talents of their creative partners. Come into the design & development process ready to contribute and willing to listen to ideas. Web designers and developers do this every day. Their creativity and intuitions regarding upcoming industry trends could prove to be a real difference maker during the crucial early releases of your app.
#4 Be Quick But Don’t Hurry
Inspiration isn’t exactly faithful. Your idea is only moments away from lighting up in someone else’s brain. Act. Do the research, collaborate with design & development professionals and move toward your initial launch with cautious expediency. A glitchy initial release is a web app killer. It tells the user that you care more about revenue than problem solving and leaves them feeling duped rather than supported – and as you know, users have long vengeful memories. Plant your flag early by using promotional marketing to ward off competitors, then work with your team to release a bug-free, minimal bells & whistles iteration. You’ll have plenty of time to upgrade your offering as your reputation and community grows. Think of it as rolling out in stages and the first stage is trust.
#5 Choose Your Creative Partners Carefully
Releasing a website application is both an opportunity and a gamble. Wanting to save money and test the waters first, is an understandable instinct but one that can get you into trouble; delays, bugs, underwhelmed users. Invest in your idea by investing in talent. Experienced designers and web developers will tell you exactly what resources they need in order to meet your timeline and objectives. Don’t worry about getting upsold. Designers and developers don’t have a stake in Bootstrap, Jira or UxPin, they have a stake in their own reputation. Their goal is to help bring an app to market that showcases their expertise; an app that is modern, meets current trends & user requirements, and addresses the needs of its users. As you vet perspective outsourcing partners keep a couple of simple guidelines in mind:
- Affordable is a benefit. Cheap is a warning.
- With trust and the right tool, things get done faster.
#6 Communication is the Key to Efficiency
Given that you want to capitalize on your idea quickly and efficiently, you’re most likely going to be working in a team environment. Your design & development partner will choose either a waterfall or agile approach. The scope, budget and timeline of your project will all play a part in their decision, but whichever approach they choose, your active participation will be absolutely vital. Quality assurance testers will review the project after each stage of development looking for any potential bugs, however, they are not the only gatekeepers. Your review and approval will be built into the project at various stages. You will need to respond expediently in order to keep the project on track. Again, be quick but don’t hurry. Your design & development partner will be able to suggest project management tools to keep everyone connected and on task.
#7 Centralize Your Outsourcing
You’re a web app entrepreneur and your web application is a business. You don’t have time to oversee every aspect of the design & development process. The smarter play is to centralize your outsourcing efforts. Instead of acting as a middleman between your designer, developers and marketing staff, outsource everything to a service provider with full-scale capabilities. It will streamline the design & development process and ensure that you have a team of experts with in-depth knowledge of your app available to help you update and optimize as needed.
#8 Staged RollOuts. Because Your Web App Will Always Be a Work in Progress
Website app development is an open invite dinner party. The more fun people are having, the more you’ll need to respond to the changing dynamic; extra chairs, extra tables, dessert, wine and making sure that everyone feels special. As the host, you’ll need to:
- Respond to user feedback
- Reinforce security & stability
- Roll out new features
Web app upgrades should be based on UX not upsell or instinct, but how do you find a UX consensus with millions of potential users? Staged rollouts. Staged rollouts allow you to test new updates and features within a targeted group of users – as little as 0.01%. The advantages include:
- Users are selected at random providing an impartial test group
- The opportunity to catch and fix any errors prior to an extended rollout
- The ability to stage a slow build toward 100%
#9 You’re Not Collecting Users. You’re Building a Community.
The important metrics include concurrent users, request rate, and average response time but pay particular attention to your Adpex Score as it is the best indication of overall user satisfaction. Be mindful of your community’s feedback and put real effort into finding solutions as they are the
number one factor to your success. In order to stay ahead of the happiness curve, you have to be proactive; solicit feedback, use staged rollouts to test your initiatives, put user needs above your wants, and trust that loyalty will bring revenue.
#10 Start Marketing Early
Web app marketing often gets lost in the shuffle of design & development. The default setting seems to be: get it right, shout about it later. But, that strategy is overly cautious – dangerously so. Imagine a movie without a trailer. Imagine a concert without advanced ticket sales. You need to build buzz, develop an effective keyword strategy and rely on content to establish your brand as a thought leader within your niche. Consider consulting with digital marketing specialists early in the design & development process in order to sort out which marketing efforts you’ll have the bandwidth for and which you’ll need to outsource.
You’ve got an idea with potential and the website application market is thriving – you have every reason to be confident. Get started on your ICPs, put together your UX/UI mood board and find a full-scale service provider with the talent and depth needed to help you navigate the design, development and marketing process. Success won’t come overnight. The path from startup to industry standard takes years to traverse, but you’ll be profitable long before, and the upside is the stuff of business empires and early retirement. Well, what are you waiting for?!