Big Fish drives 'version-by-version approach' to app development

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App development companies around the world struggle to find the right balance between delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) and dedicating time and resources to the app development cycle. But for some of these companies, a version-by-version approach to app development often proves to be ideal.

Consider Big Fish Digital, a Florida-based mobile app development company for hire.

Big Fish defines the MVP as the "version of [a] mobile app that has 'just enough' features needed to go to market or [to] start validating the product [to] customers." As such, the Big Fish team begins its app development cycle with the MVP in mind to minimize its risks and maximize its returns.

"Starting with an MVP allows everyone to stay flexible as you build your product and adapt to changing needs and user feedback," Big Fish President Sara MacQueen told FierceDeveloper. "You'll avoid the risks of long development cycles and get your product to market faster, with less capital invested upfront."

Big Fish and the app development process

Big Fish features a team of eight full-time and contract employees who create custom mobile apps for clients.

Also, Big Fish works closely with a prospective client before embarking on an app development project to ensure it can deliver a client's desired results.  

"I'm very upfront with prospective clients – if you contact us to develop an app that isn't going to bring value to your business, we'll either recommend a more appropriate approach or turn away the business," MacQueen said. "We are choosy about the projects and clients we work with. I'm not looking to just churn out apps for the sake of it."

To deliver the MVP, MacQueen said Big Fish will ask prospective clients to consider the problem or challenge that an app should resolve. In doing so, the Big Fish team is able to prioritize the issue at hand and work to resolve it immediately.

"Being too set on 'features' takes your focus off the main purpose of investing in an app in the first place," MacQueen stated.

In addition, with a version-by-version approach to app development, the Big Fish team puts itself in a strong position to achieve a client's goals consistently.

"We are big advocates for taking a version-by-version approach to app development," MacQueen said. "Rather than trying to predict and plan every possible feature upfront, when you know as little about a product as you ever will, we urge our clients to first focus on a more minimum version."

Of course, Big Fish continues to keep the "big picture" in focus during its app development projects, too.

"You will still have the big picture in mind, and this is important to ensure that what you develop is scalable," MacQueen noted. "But it's not necessary, nor recommended, to try and pack every possible feature into your first version."

Big Fish and the mobile landscape

MacQueen originally founded Big Fish as an app development and digital marketing consultancy in Canada in 2010. She relocated Big Fish to Florida in 2014 and narrowed the company's focus to app development, which enabled the company to "find its niche."

"Moving the company was a year-long process, and during that time, I really thought about the direction I wanted to take as a business," she said. "The idea of narrowing down our focus was very exciting to me. I fully believe in the power of finding your niche and the value you bring to your clients by having expertise that isn't watered down by trying to be 'Jacks and Jills of all trades.'"

To date, Big Fish has helped clients in a broad range of industries, including:

  • Automotive
  • Field Services
  • Manufacturing

Big Fish also boasts "focused expertise" – something that has helped the business stand out from other app development firms.

"We aren't just a team that writes code, we are business professionals and we always have our clients' business case at the forefront of our discussions," MacQueen noted.

Big Fish's app development efforts have been successful as well.

In fact, MacQueen noted one of Big Fish's clients recently said it experienced a 45 percent increase in productivity after it implemented an app developed by the Big Fish team.

"As [this client's] team grows, the ROI will grow with them as the time savings are applied to every team member they hire," MacQueen pointed out.

The future of Big Fish

Big Fish is a business-to-business company (B2B) company and helps clients utilize apps that improve their business processes, MacQueen said.

Going forward, MacQueen stated that Big Fish will continue to explore ways to bring innovative products and services to market and fulfill clients' requests.

"We will see continued demand from companies that need a modern mobile app developed so their users can access their services while on the go," she said. "You will see us developing more apps for field services companies that will automate many of the processes they currently do manually, or consolidate a variety of devices (and handwritten notes) into a single app they can use on their mobile phone."