Mobile applications’ accessibility at any time anywhere led people to rely on mobile apps more, resulting in the massive growth of the mobile app development industry. This trend also presented lucrative opportunities for businesses as they started investing in mobile apps that increase business exposure, improve brand awareness and customer loyalty.

With mobile apps, customers interact with brands in a personal space thus enhancing brand value. Though a mobile app is worth the investment for a business, high app development costs often deter them. Mobile app development doesn’t have to be expensive. All you need to do is take the right measures to significantly reduce development costs. Of course there are many ways you can reduce development costs but most of them demands a sacrifice in app quality.

That said, here are a few ways to reduce the right way i.e. without compromising on quality of the app.

Plan the app development process

Most businesses often neglect the importance of efficiently planning the entire development process. App development is a complex process that may require a lot of iterations and modifications before the app is ready to offer the best user experience while serving its purpose. Without proper planning, each iteration can increase the cost of development. By planning way ahead of development, you can choose just the right features your app needs to make it stand out and deliver a great experience. This means lesser iterations and faster development.

Sketch the final version of the app

While the quality and success rate of an app depends on how efficiently it’s coded, the developer should still be aware of what is expected of the app, how it will be used and how it can stand out from its competitors. To make things easier, you can roughly sketch the final version of the app including its interface before coding begins so the developers can use this as a starting point.

This way the development team can come up with the most appropriate design of the interface and the workflow that match the sketch. This subsequently prevents unnecessary design modifications and reworks thus reducing cost.

Choose the right platform for the app

You can have an app developed for the most popular mobile platforms like iOS, Android and Windows. But if you want to reduce development costs, it’s better to stick to just a single platform. To choose the right platform for the app, you should first understand your customer base. A good rule of thumb is to go for the platform that’s being used by the majority of your brand’s customers. Another good alternative is to invest in cross-platform app development – a budget-friendly approach to launch your app on all major platforms.

Outsource the project

While many businesses see outsourcing of app development as a means of losing control over the development, many others rely on outsourcing to cut down development costs. When outsourcing the project, you hire developers and pay them by the hour. In-house teams, on the other hand, will require fixed salaries that don’t take into account the number of hours they spent developing the project. Outsourcing app development also gives you access to the expertise of proficient app developers with good track records.

Encourage thorough testing

Hastening app development simply for faster time-to-market is not always a good idea especially when testing is also not properly done. This may result in damaged brand reputation and increased development costs to fix issues that popped up after app launch. We recommend taking good time to thoroughly test the app’s framework not only to identify issues and fix them before launch but also to ensure that the app delivers on its promises.

Partner with an expert mobile app development company

A mobile app leverages many technologies to serve users and to provide the best possible experience. Most of the time, utilizing trending technologies may not be economically feasible for businesses that want to develop their app themselves. So it’s a good idea to partner with app development companies with proven expertise in the most trending UI/UX and development technologies. This ensures a high quality, high-performance app that meets the expectations of today’s mobile users. If the company provides end-to-end app development services including design, promotions and marketing, it can’t get any better.

Conclusion

The mobile app development industry is a rapidly growing industry which means you can only go so far to reduce app development costs without compromising on quality. In this age, even the smallest of bugs can impact user experience which would in turn annoy customers enough to get the app uninstalled. To reduce costs without compromising on quality, expertise and experience are critical factors. AOT has both. Get in touch with our experts to make an app that will stand the test of time.


Back in the day, businesses were reluctant to rely on software to talk to potential customers. Why invest in software or chatbots when you can talk to people yourself right? Chatbots only respond to the type of questions they are programmed to respond to. Right?

It used to be so. But not anymore. Investing in a chatbot isn’t considered strange anymore. As a matter of fact, chatbots today are very different from what they used to be thanks to Artificial Intelligence. They are now smarter i.e. they don’t need to be programmed to respond to the kind of questions a visitor would ask. With AI and Machine Learning, modern chatbots can make conversations just like a human would.

But developing an ‘intelligent’ chatbot can be a major challenge as even the smallest mistake can do serious damage to a business. That said, this blog will provide an introduction to a few major mistakes bot-builders make in various phases of development. Furthermore, we have also included a few useful tips about chatbot development.

Phase 1 – Conception

It’s not the coding phase where chatbot development officially begins. We like to believe that true development starts at the Conception phase where the team defines the problem they want to solve with the bot while meeting business requirements.

Once the business need is defined properly, the team can brainstorm on how the bot’s conversation flow solves that particular issue. More than 4 exchanges in a conversation is not recommended by experts in chatbot development. Additionally, all chatbots are expected to understand and respond to various topics that aren’t related to their objective. Users most likely would test that out simply out of curiosity.

So disregarding the target audience, user experience, response to small talk and other commonly asked casual questions can be a mistake bot developers may regret.

Phase 2 – Training

Modern chatbots leverage powerful technologies like AI, machine learning and natural language processing. With machine learning and natural language processing, bots can be trained to handle almost every kind of query visitors would have, resulting in great performance and customer satisfaction. Training a bot requires the team to create intents and fill them with expressions. Each intent can have a number of expressions. And this number is important. Five expressions for intent won’t be enough. For the chatbot to efficiently serve its purpose, there should be over 50 expressions.

During this phase, companies often make the mistake of training the bot with just the development and testing team. This approach ends with a bot that trained on inaccurately represented target users as the development team most likely won’t be able to formulate questions that potential customers may ask.

Phase 3 – Coding & Development

Building the chatbot is possibly the most challenging of all phases mentioned in this blog; often assumed to be just a configuration of conversational flows. It isn’t. One of the biggest mistakes made during development is when the team uses one skill for one task. One skill doesn’t necessarily have to be used for one task or process. Experts recommend utilizing an ‘alpha skill’ or ‘mega skill’ that can redirect to different skills that manage specific procedures.

Phase 4 – User Experience

User experience is the single most important feature any digital solution should possess. Modern day users appreciate convenience. As long as they don’t have to spend a lot of time using a software to serve a purpose, they will be happy. A bad experience with a digital solution – be it a web app, mobile app or even a chatbot, could end up with a significant reduction in business revenue which is why almost every business with digital personas invest in an engaging, memorable user experience.

To provide a great UX, a chatbot should look attractive with strategic use of graphic elements, buttons, HD pictures, and a good virtual personality. The bot should then be integrated to where the business’ potential customers are. Choosing the right channel is also an important factor. Many companies make the mistake of attracting customers to a channel where they’ve integrated their chatbot instead.

Another surprisingly common mistake is when conversations with the bot are much more than simple exchanges i.e. the bot responds to a query with a long, descriptive reply which could be inconvenient to customers. If the reply is supposed to elaborate, the bot should separate it into different messages. To make the conversation lively, the bot can also be trained to use UX components, images, buttons etc. so that the users won’t have to reply to a lot of questions before they get the solution they seek from the bot.

Another important factor is the chatbot’s personality. A customer talking to a bot won’t expect a lot of interaction where they can ask about anything and everything. They would expect something robotic. But modern chatbots are overcoming past limitations to resemble humans when it comes to making conversations. To make the engagement memorable, the chatbot can be given a name and a personality (funny, playful or completely polite and humble).

Phase 5 – Maintenance

For the bot to keep succeeding, regular maintenance is key. And maintenance include improvements in training, tweaking the bot based on the feedback from users and creating new use cases. This is where one serious mistake may occur if the developers unbalance the already effective training while adding more user sentences (new expressions for intents). Ignoring user feedback is another common mistake. It’s important to pay attention to even the tiniest detail when leveraging an intelligent chatbot for customer support.

Conclusion

For a ‘smart bot’ to be smart, it has to be trained. With Machine Learning involved, this training should utilize the right data sets so that the bot won’t reach inaccurate conclusions post-training. When used the right way, chatbots can be a powerful asset that can encourage customers, who simply wanted some clarifications, to make a purchase. It can even make recommendations just like a human salesperson would.

Investing in a chatbot is gradually becoming a future-proofing strategy for enterprises. If you like to give a ‘smart bot’ a shot at handling your customers, start learning about the feasibility and benefits. Talk to AOT’s AI experts today.

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Installing apps on a mobile device can be tiresome when the user is concerned about running out of memory or the vast existing app library. This holds true for many users who just want to check out a trending app. Many apps that get installed are often forgotten by users and are eventually uninstalled. Even if the app has the capacity to bring back inactive users, they simply don’t get the chance to get the message through.

Thankfully, technological advancements led to the invention of Progressive Web Apps. Mostly referred to as PWAs, they are technically not mobile apps but websites that look and function like mobile apps.

Built for Users

PWAs are built with users in mind, and primarily offer the convenience to users to not have to install and manage them. The users won’t have to launch the app store, search and find the app, download and install it and then get rid of it later when they have to. They just need to launch their web browser and enter the URL; just like how it’s when opening websites.

Key traits of PWAs include:

  • Excellent responsiveness
  • Fast loading speed (even without an internet connection)
  • Great user experience
  • No App Gap problems

Twitter, Instagram and Forbes are a few examples of websites that successfully launched impressive PWAs. These PWAs helped these businesses attract and impress more visitors with improved usability and experience. For a PWA, providing the best possible user experience is the key. Though the users can’t uninstall PWAs, they can still close the browser tab if they have a not-so-splendid experience with the apps.

That said, here are a few tips to ensure that your PWA provides an incredible user experience.

Never neglect performance and loading time optimizations

A PWA is basically a website but shouldn’t feel like one i.e. the users shouldn’t have to wait with an open browser for the PWA to load. As a matter of fact, a PWA should load reasonably faster even without an internet connection. This means you should consider PWA performance and loading time optimizations a priority.

There are many ways to optimize a PWA including but not limited to the following the PRPL architecture recommended by Google, service worker configurations (if you want the PWA to work offline), server-side rendering etc.

PRPL architecture ensures more effective caching and improves response times considerably. Server-side rendering ensures that the users get the data they seek faster even when JavaScript is disabled. This feature goes a long way in a UX perspective.

Development approach should reflect that of native apps

Remember that PWAs are supposed to look and feel like mobile app; specifically native apps. So to ensure a UX that closely resembles that of a native app, it should be designed like one i.e. there should be a sense of familiarity.

People are used to the layout, functionality and navigation of native apps. If the PWA version of an app simply feels like a website more than an app, that isn’t actually a PWA. Instagram is a great example as its PWA functions more like the app version itself.

For an optimal app-like user experience, make sure that the PWA is devoid of any scrolling issues, responsiveness issues, network transition issues, unfamiliar gestures etc. Basically, the PWA should be responsive to how the users interact. And the users would interact like they would with a native mobile app which means they don’t like waiting for new page content to appear on a new screen.

If you just can’t avoid wait times, try using skeleton screens – empty screens that immediately appear while the content loads in the background. If that doesn’t happen, the PWA won’t meet the expectations of users and will be branded as just another website.

Don’t adopt web design standards

For a website, you can take various types of content and present them in an engaging way for visitors. PWAs are fundamentally different which means sticking to web design standards will do more harm than good. A minimalist approach is more appropriate as you need to provide only the information that matters. Extra content should be removed as much as possible. Unlike a website, a PWA should not have a lot of buttons and links. Instead the user should be able to tap and swipe their way to find the information they seek.

Wise use of system fonts

A PWA should be designed in such a way that it matches the user’s operating system. The key to achieving this is to implement system fonts for individual operating systems; be it iOS, Android, Windows etc. Creative developers still use custom fonts however but mostly for headers and logos.

Avoid content-crowding and optimize interactions

Mobile devices have space limitations which is why designers and developers have to be careful to avoid content-crowding. You don’t want the users to accidentally open an item while scrolling down. This applies to PWAs as well. The users shouldn’t be redirected to undesired results while navigating. To avoid such scenarios and a confusing user experience, it’s best to mark non-content elements by using CSS. Additionally, touch interactions on PWAs should be thoroughly tested to ensure that there won’t be errors on real devices.

Conclusion

To offer the best user experience possible, the designers and developers should have ample expertise. A great design/development strategy goes a long way when it comes to PWAs.

Though Progressive Web Apps didn’t gain a lot of momentum in the beginning, it’s now recommended even by Google and has certain SEO benefits as well. From a user and business perspective, PWAs could be the answer to appeal to users who demand a mobile-like experience on the web.

Investing in a Progressive Web App will most certainly aid your business in its growth. But that investment counts on the expertise of the design and development team. If you are considering investing in a PWA, make sure the development team has a successful track record when it comes to PWAs.

Interested in developing a PWA? Talk to the specialists at AOT today.


While Artificial Intelligence transforms everything from transportation to cloud computing, more organizations are coming forward to use the technology’s potential to grow faster, having realized that it’s a safe bet that will positively influence almost every aspect of their business. But despite AI’s popularity and large scale adoption, there are many businesses that still don’t know many interesting things about the technology.

In this blog, we will take a look at a few facts about AI that might surprise you.

AI covers many different types of computer learning

The term AI is generally used to refer to computer systems with learning capabilities. But AI is so much more. It encompasses several designations like machine learning, deep learning etc. AI isn’t new. As a matter of fact, it has been around for a long while. It started gaining momentum only a few years back when people started seeing intelligent machines and devices becoming available. However, this eventually resulted in a wrong notion that AI is ‘programmed logic’. It isn’t. True AI is where the machine learns itself after parsing the data fed to it.

AI drives the $127 billion autonomous vehicle market

Self-driving cars are not a concept from a sci-fi flick anymore. They are real and they are expected to be worth an estimated $127 billion worldwide by 2027. Without AI, these cars wouldn’t have become a reality. The Drive PX Pegasus – an AI and GPU-powered computer manufactured by NVIDIA specifically for driverless cars had a lot of takers when it was announced last year. The project is considered a success, and the warm welcome it received emphasizes that companies are placing their bets on AI.

AI & the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already a buzzing trend with more people coming forward to invest in a ‘connected home’. In such an environment, various devices would be connected to each other in a private network to serve the home owners more conveniently. The trend was sparked by personal virtual assistants powered by AI namely the Amazon Echo Line and Google Home. AI evidently contributes to the growth of the smart speaker market.

Not all tech leaders approve of AI

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, Inc., has stated on multiple occasions that AI could be dangerous to people and humanity as a whole. He has also made it clear that there should be some regulations around the technology, and has also specifically recommended a ban on AI-powered autonomous weapons – which is also probably halfway to being a reality as some governments are reportedly working on weaponizing AI already.

The value of AI market keeps rising

A few years back, a PwC report estimated that Artificial Intelligence will contribute over $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Judging from the various AI-related advancements that are coming out, the value seems to be going up further. It’s a safe bet to assume that the AI market would, by 2030, would exceed $15 trillion.

End note

Because of the vast potential of AI and its many use cases, it will be quite challenging for investors to determine which aspect of AI can grant them maximum profit when leveraged. Still it seems only big companies are reaping the biggest profits from AI. We have seen a number of small businesses adopt AI this year. Hopefully this trend will keep up enough so AI becomes a standard regardless of a company’s size and scale.

At AOT, our expertise in AI when it comes to application development and machine learning is something that we are proud of. Give us a ring to see what else we can do with AI.

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A prototype is basically a preliminary model with which the development team can build other forms from. It can be a simple sketch of the product interface or an interactive model. Generally, development teams refer to working, interactive models as prototypes.

The prototype enables the development team to visualize how the product will function and give them ideas to come up with an interactive user interface and deliver the best user experience possible. Errors can be tested and identified early on in the development phase subsequently maximizing the development efficiency right from the beginning itself.

In this blog, we will take a look at 5 best practices for mobile app prototyping.

Planning ahead

The prototype is meant to give the team a better understanding of the end users’ problems so they can determine how the mobile app would address and solve those problems. This is why it’s important to define features and ideas that the team want to test out in the form of a prototype. Once that’s done, the team should make a plan that sets some time apart for developing the prototype without delaying the project. Once the prototype’s ready, it can be sent out for feedback with which the team can make adequate improvements on the product.

Reduce design details as much as possible

 As mentioned above, a prototype is basically just an outline to envision the end product, which means it doesn’t need to have a lot of design elements in it like color, fonts, animations and other effects. A good practice is to reduce the use of those design details that aren’t essential to the app’s functionality. The idea isn’t to test out the effectiveness of design elements.

Make a list of priority features

Another good practice before building a prototype is to make a list of the features that you want to test out in the prototype, and then prioritize them. While making this list, the team should take into account various factors like the main problem of the end users that the app will solve and how the app will solve it. Include only the prioritized features on the prototype.

Map the end user’s journey

Every mobile app should be built with the users in mind. This applies to the prototype as well. It’s important to look at a product from the perspective of a user before beginning development. It should begin from when a user launches an app through to the end goal which can be anything from making a purchase to using the app to fulfill a purpose like scanning or uploading documents. Such a prototype will provides insights on designing the app to be convenient to users.

Gather feedback

Feedback for prototypes is how the ideas included in the prototype are validated or invalidated. Based on this feedback, the prototype can be updated with improvements and retested. Each iteration of the prototype reveals errors to fix and opportunities to improve.

Conclusion

Prototyping should be an important part of the mobile app design process to allow the development team to understand user needs better and determine the right set of product functions for the final version before starting production.

If you have any questions regarding prototyping and app development, get in touch with the app development experts at AOT.

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