A recent report revealed that 74 percent of startups don’t succeed because of premature scaling. In other words, the business grows faster than the owners or the product can handle.
Developing an app is no different from building any other type of startup business. If you aren’t thinking about scalability and making plans for the future, you won’t see the kind of success you’re hoping for.
Read on to learn more about the importance of scalability when designing an app. You’ll also find some tips that will help you to build and launch a scalable app.
What Is Scalability?
Before we dive into the reasons why scalability matters, let’s get clear on what scalability means.
The term “scalability” refers to an application’s ability to handle growth, specifically when it comes to growth in the number of people using it. The goal is for an app to provide a consistently high level of performance and functionality, regardless of how many people are using it.
If your app is poorly configured, this won’t be possible for you to accomplish this goal, especially as the app becomes more popular and more people start trying to download and use it. If scalability isn’t a priority, the app may experience an initial boom, but it won’t be sustainable as the user base grows.
Types of App Scaling
There are a few different ways that you can scale your app. The following are the 3 most well-known strategies that you might want to consider:
Vertical Scaling (Scaling Up)
Vertical scaling, also known as scaling up, focuses on increasing an app’s capacity by increasing the productivity of the internal server’s resources. This includes processors, network capacity, memory, etc. In this type of scaling, the actual server does not change.
The primary advantage of vertical scaling is that it is a simple process that’s relatively quick and easy to implement. The downside, though, is that it’s expensive. For startups that are strapped for cash, this option may not be feasible.
Horizontal Scaling (Scaling Out)
Scaling out or horizontal scaling takes a different approach. With this type of scaling, productivity is increased by adding additional serves, all of which perform the same function. Horizontal scaling also involves dividing the system into various components and distributing them across various machines.
Horizontal scaling is more affordable than vertical scaling. The tradeoff, though, is that horizontal scaling typically takes more time and effort.
For many developers and startups, horizontal scaling still ends up being a more feasible approach. In a lot of cases, it seems more reasonable to distribute the load rather than continually increasing a single server’s performance capabilities.
The concept of diagonal scaling is less common than the two types of scaling mentioned above. It is still a viable option, though.
Diagonal scaling was invented by John Allsop, who is the co-founder of Adaptive Capacity Labs.
This method is meant to be a combination of vertical and horizontal scaling. It involves scaling out the server’s infrastructure by adding in extra nodes. Then, the developer scales up each node to increase its productivity.
Why Does Scalability Matter?
There are lots of reasons why app developers need to make scalability a priority. The following are some of the top benefits of having a scalable app:
Deliver Better App Performance
Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars building an app, only to find that it doesn’t work well over time.
If you don’t make scalability a priority right from the beginning, you may find that once people start using your app in droves (which is the goal, isn’t it), it doesn’t perform the way you envisioned. That’s frustrating, to say the least.
App scalability helps you to ensure that your app always works the way it was intended, whether there are 2 people using it or 2 million. If you’re looking for long-term performance, you need to start thinking about scalability early on in the app development process.
Provide a Good User Experience
Without a high-performing app, you’re not going to be able to provide a good user experience, are you?
Remember, there are approximately 1.96 million apps available for download in the Apple app store and around 2.87 million apps available through the Google Play Store.
If people don’t have a good experience using your app, they’re most likely not going to keep trying. Instead, they’re going to abandon it (and possibly delete it from their devices altogether), then switch over to another app that offers similar features and runs more smoothly.
To succeed long-term, your business needs to remain competitive. Prioritizing app scalability provides a better user experience and helps to ensure that happens.
Take Advantage of User Surges
Remember, the number of people using your app will fluctuate fairly often. For example, over holidays, you may notice a significant increase in users, or during certain major events (such as Black Friday).
Some startups find themselves scrambling to deal with these fluctuations right as they begin to occur. By that point, though, it’s often too late (not to mention, it’s very expensive to try and make those adjustments in real-time).
If you don’t have a scalable app that can handle these fluctuations with ease, you may find yourself running into problems. These issues can range from an increase in negative reviews and customer complaints to a decrease in total users and a loss of revenue.
Focusing on app scalability may cost you more money upfront. However, in the long run, you’ll end up saving a lot of money by making sure your app is scalable from the start.
Think about it. How much money will you have to spend working with a developer to fix your app and accommodate more people when you’re already in the middle of a crisis? Wouldn’t it be better to plan ahead and prepare for user surges or other issues early on?
The more you do early in the app development process, the less you’ll have to stress over later. Save yourself some money (and your sanity) and prioritize scalability now. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up paying for it later.
Receive More Positive Feedback
Positive reviews and user feedback are key when it comes to developing a successful, profitable app.
The more positive reviews you receive, the more likely other people are to find, download, and start using your app. The best way to get genuine positive reviews for your app is, of course, to create a highly functional, high-performing app.
By prioritizing scalability, you can ensure that your app always works well and provides a great user experience. This, in turn, will win you more positive reviews and more word-of-mouth recommendations.
Earn More Money
Of course, the more downloads and users your app gets, the more money your business will earn.
The sooner your business starts earning money, and the more money it earns, the easier it will be for you to keep the company afloat as it grows.
This will also give you more opportunities to invest in the app moving forward. You’ll have an easier time paying for upgrades and maintenance, for example, which ensures that users continue to have a good experience using the app over time.
Set Your Company Up for Long-Term Growth
Good user experiences, positive ratings, and high revenue all lead to long-term growth and success for your company.
If you want to avoid being part of the 90 percent of startups that fail, you need to make sure you’re playing the long game. This means investing in scalability and quality app development early on so that you launch a dependable, high-performing product that people actually want to download and use.
Tips for Building a Scalable App
Clearly, scalability matters. Where do you start, though, when it comes to building a scalable app? What kind of steps can you and your development team take to ensure you enjoy all of the benefits mentioned above?
The following tips will help you get on the right track when it comes to building a scalable app:
Ask the Right Questions
One of the best ways to make sure your app is scalable is to ask yourself some important questions before you even begin the development process. Here are some key questions to reflect upon with your development team before you get started:
- How many users do I expect to use my app within the first year?
- What is my data storage plan? Is it flexible?
- How long do I anticipate all of my customers being able to fit on one server?
- What will I do when my customer or data numbers exceed my original expectations?
Remember to be as specific as you can when answering these questions.
Asking and figuring out the answers early will help you avoid running into a lot of scalability-related problems later on. This will also ensure you’re able to optimize the user experience and absorb growth with minimal downtime.
Choose the Right Programming Language
The programming language you use to create your app matters a great deal, especially from a scalability standpoint. Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
Unless you have a vast knowledge of programming languages, it’s best to talk to your development team to see which language they recommend for your specific app. They’ll be able to provide more insight into the best options and help you to choose one that aligns with your goals.
Some factors to consider when choosing a programming language include ease of use and community support. If it’s relatively easy to write code using a particular programming language, you’ll likely have an easier time making updates to your app over time.
As for community support, this increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to get help from other experts if needed. When you use a programming language that isn’t frequently used or community-supported, you may find yourself on your own trying to come up with a solution if something goes wrong.
When it comes to scalability, caching is one of the most important factors to consider.
Caching involves saving ready-made results. That way, you can provide them to a user without data processing. In other words, you can deliver a specific result faster, therefore providing a better user experience.
Caching helps to reduce the load placed on your systems’ resources. If your system is overloaded, people are more likely to experience delays, downtime, and other issues when they’re using your app.
If people have to wait too long to achieve a desired result, whether it’s navigating to a specific page or moving to a new level of a game, they’re going to get frustrated and, in many cases, will stop using your app altogether.
We don’t have to go into much more detail for you to see why this isn’t ideal when you’re trying to launch a successful app and build a sustainable business.
CDN is short for Content Delivery Network. This is another option that will help you to scale up your app.
Content Delivery Networks speed up content delivery to the app’s end-user. This is possible because they use servers that are located all over the world. Access to so many servers helps to reduce response times and ensure everyone has an efficient and positive experience when using your app.
If you’re planning on creating an app that is targeted toward users across several countries, Content Delivery Networks are particularly useful and cost-effective. However, or those whose target audience is localized in one specific place, they’re not the most useful or practical option.
Don’t Forget to Test
Proper and thorough testing is key when it comes to making a scalable app. The following are some of the most important types of testing to use to guarantee scalability:
Load testing is the most effective way to determine what your app can handle.
This is the process of intentionally putting demand (or load) on an app. It involves sending multiple requests at once to measure the app’s response.
Performance testing analyzes and aims to improve an app’s performance. It involves mining and examining data to assess the app’s resource consumption and ensure it’s optimal.
Scalability testing is a type of performance testing centered specifically around an app’s scalability. It’s used to determine the app’s breaking point (the point at which it no longer scales). Once developers have identified this point, they can work backward to figure out the reasoning for why the app stops scaling.
Work with Experts
Finally, don’t be afraid to work with experts. Partnering with professional developers or an established development agency gives you access to the tools and experience you need to create a high-quality, scalable app.
Could you try to figure things out on your own? Sure. Is that the best way to spend your time, energy, and money? Probably not.
Reach out to a professional team so you can get expert advice and get your app launched as quickly as possible (without sacrificing quality or scalability, of course).
Do You Need More App Development Assistance?
As you can see, scalability is key when developing an app. The easier it is for your app to grow and evolve with your business, the more successful you and your startup will be moving forward.
The tips mentioned above are great starting points when it comes to building a scalable app. Do you need more guidance than this, though?
If so, we’re here to help at Alpha Bravo Development. As a top Miami app development company, we know what it takes to make sure your app is scalable and designed to support your business now and in the future.
Contact us today to learn more about our development services or to get a quote for your startup’s next project.