Leap design easy-to-use, secure and cost effective web and mobile applications.

Steps to help you get your web/mobile application “idea” off the ground!

In this blog post, let’s look at a pragmatic approach to kick-starting your application idea.

So often not knowing where to start or the fear of failure holds us back!

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”

Walt disney

Do Your Market Research

One of the best places to start, is to do some market research. Take a look online to see if your idea already exists out there.

If so, then establish who could be your potential competitors.

You should also try to establish an Unique Selling Point (USP) which differentiates you from others on the market.

Establish a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The definition of a MVP is based around: what is the most useful problem your application could solve with the least amount of work.

Establishing a MVP is a useful way of getting something useful to the market fast with the promise to glean feedback from customers early and build that into the future roadmap for your project.

Rather than waste huge amounts of time and money on features which may not be useful to your customers, focus on implementing the most important features first, then prioritise others based on feedback.

Set realistic goals and stick to them, avoiding analysis paralysis – the best step forward is to take one!

Choose The Right Technology

Before starting your web/mobile application you should always make a well-informed choice around technologies which will help make your project a success.

How will my application be used?
Who will be using it?
What features will it require?
What critical problem am I trying to solve?

These are all good questions to be asking when choosing the right technology.

If you want your application to be used across a broad range of mobile devices e.g. iOS/Android, then this should be considered before choosing a development language / platform.

Does your application need to work offline i.e. without an internet connection? Your application will need to be built on a technology platform that supports this.

If you don’t make the right technology choices upfront, it can make some requirements very difficult at a later stage.

Gather Feedback and Iterate

Once you have your MVP ready, it’s good to use your business network to start gathering feedback.

Can you identify key influencers who might be interested in your application and potentially use it?

It’s often a good idea to get some early testers onboard allowing them to use your application for free or for a reduced rate in return for some open and honest feedback.

Once you have that feedback, consider it constructively and build it into your roadmap for the application.

Market your Application

The internet has created a fantastic opportunity for you to market your application to a wide audience.

Learn how to avail of online marketing techniques such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and targeted ad campaigns to maximise your outreach.

If you have any questions or would like to know more, then get in touch here.

5 ways to improve your operational efficiency using IT software

We are often asked how can IT software help make my business operate more efficiently and ultimately save us money?

A solid IT solution should form the backbone of your business operations, helping to create and support efficient and lean processes.

Here are five ways that operational efficiency can be improved using IT software:

1. Creating a single source of truth

If you are struggling to manage your business between multiple spreadsheets or disconnected databases then you should use IT to bring that information together acting as your single source of truth. This means you can accurately reflect and share the current state of your operations across your business in real time.

2. Automation of repetitive and manual tasks

Are you (or your employees) spending time on repetitive, time consuming tasks which could be automated with the help of software? For example creating rotas or batch updating product or customer data? Software can help automate these tasks reducing errors and saving time.

3. Tracking progress and identifying issues

By tracking the progress of your product or service along a specific set of tasks or stages can help improve your process making it more efficient in the future by helping to identify when and where issues occur.

4. Improving communication

One of the major pitfalls of business operations is communication, whether that is between employees or with customers. An IT solution can ensure that all parties are informed at each stage of your process through various channels such as emails, text messages, and/or push notifications.

5. Reporting

In order to create efficiencies in your business, you need to know how it is performing by measuring your performance against a specific benchmark. Establishing appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the overall company and for each business function is the first step in this process. For example, you may want to track sales figures or the time a product has spent on the production line (actual versus benchmark).

We have worked with both small businesses and global companies to help them successfully adopt IT software to help improve their operational efficiency.

Talk to us today if you are interested in finding out more.

Mobile apps – breaking down the jargon – what you need to know!

One common theme we often encounter, is software development companies and agencies hiding behind technical jargon by confusing their customers and delivering a project not fit for purpose, late and over budget.

We do not hide behind technical jargon and ensure our customers understand our solutions.

Here’s some things you need to be aware of before taking on a mobile app project (in plain English of course):

Android, Apple or both?

In the UK and USA, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS have over 95% of the market share. Both mobile operating systems make “apps” available for download via Play Store on Android or App Store on iOS.

That’s where the similarities end though. Both Android and iOS use different technologies to support their platforms. This means that you need to design, build and release a separate version for each platform – essentially two mobile apps, one for each platform.

Unless you want your target audience to be exclusively on a Android or Apple device then this doubles your costs, as you have to develop your app on both platforms. In addition both versions will need to be supported and maintained going forward which is likely to increase your operating costs.

Fortunately, there are frameworks available like Ionic which allow you to develop and maintain your mobile app once (using popular web development languages) and publish them to both platforms.

There are some trade-offs to using this approach such as performance and reliance on a third-party framework but for most mobile app projects this approach makes sense.

What is an API, and why’s that important?

An API (Application Program Interface) enables your mobile app to interact with other services such as reading data from another source or writing data to a database.

An API becomes the brain of your application and should contain code which supports the business functions of your application.

For example, if the function of your app is to manage contact details then requests should be made from your mobile app to create, read, update and delete contacts. These requests will be made to an API who’s role is to perform these functions then feedback to your mobile app i.e. contact has been added, deleted, updated etc.

A well designed API should be able to scale (support more users/traffic and features) as your application grows. If it isn’t well designed it can incur additional costs in the future if you want to add new features or encounter issues with data security.

We use the latest cloud technologies such as Google’s Firebase and AWS Amplify to ensure that our mobile app APIs are robust, secure and scalable.

Watch out for hidden charges!

There are many ways to build mobile applications and the choices aren’t always straightforward.

We are always upfront in helping our customers adopt the right choice for their project, not what is easier for us to implement.

Our aim is always to build a business relationship based on trust with our customers, but we won’t tie you into proprietary technologies that will prevent you from working with other developers in the future.

Be aware that some companies may not allow you to do this which could cost you in the future. Ownership of the project should always remain with your company.

Be careful of hidden charges such as cost to publish to Apple Store and Play Store. There may also be additional costs incurred for any hosting requirements going forward.

We pride ourselves in being upfront and honest, with no hidden charges or nasty surprises.

Our commitment is to deliver on time and to the agreed budget without excuses. We guarantee customer satisfaction by offering a cooling off period once your product is live to ensure we delivered as promised!

If you have any questions or would like to know more then get in touch here.

Struggling to manage your business through spreadsheets?

If you’re struggling to manage your business through spreadsheets it may be time to look for a new solution. Spreadsheets are now 50-years-old and while they still have their place, your business could be suffering if you haven’t moved on with technology.

Here are some signs that your business has outgrown spreadsheets:

Difficult to collaborate and share information

Are you emailing several versions of your spreadsheet around, finding it difficult to track the latest version between multiple colleagues?

Your business could be at a disadvantage without a single “live” view of your data. Outdated data can be damaging to customer relations and have a negative impact on decision making.

Struggling to create reports

Spreadsheets are flat in structure making it difficult to gain meaningful insights into your business data. Generally, you need to generate reports manually which can become time consuming and very error prone. Your business could be missing out on meaningful insights which could be costly, preventing you from identifying and resolving issues early.

Lack of security around your data

If spreadsheets become your single source of truth for your business, you may be exposing your business to a huge security risk!

All your data is exposed to anyone who can get their hands on your spreadsheet, and there isn’t the ability to restrict who can see what. You are also leaving your business vulnerable as the data could be easily manipulated and/or copied to a compromising source whether intentional or not.

Dependencies on other data sources

If you are tracking something in a spreadsheet but relying on other sources (applications, databases or additional spreadsheets) for additional data then you could be wasting valuable time by constantly switching context between applications.

How could a web application help?

A well-designed web or mobile application enables you and your colleagues to contribute to a single data source avoiding duplication and inaccuracy of data. Your application can be made accessible via a login and available securely 24/7 from any device with an internet connection. Reports can be easily compiled in real time providing valuable insights to improve decision making and help resolve operational issues early.

Many small businesses don’t stay small for long and working from spreadsheets isn’t a viable solution in the long term.

Talk to us today to discuss next steps in migrating your business away from spreadsheets.

Web applications for your business!

What is a web application?

Web applications run through web browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox etc) unlike traditional applications which run on a single PC or server. They require no complex installation process as the browser provides all the functionality required. Web applications can be accessed from any device with a web browser – desktop, laptop, tablet or phone!

How can web applications help improve my business?

Web applications provide a central source for customers/employees to interact with your business. This makes the applications much easier to update, maintain and backup.

A customer or employee can access your web app (much like they do a website) via a secure login and password.

Web applications can be built to serve many different purposes, but here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Process payments online for your products or services
  • Track business operations to help identify issues and help improve processes
  • Automate manual tasks to reduce cost and human error
  • Organise and manage customer/employee data and handle communications
  • Capture and report on business KPI and performance targets
  • Share and collaborate on projects which have outgrown spreadsheets and/or legacy database systems
  • Make your business functions available online 24/7

Are web applications secure?

All incoming and outgoing requests should be secured by using a secure connection known as HTTPS, which digitally encrypts all data flowing back and forth. In addition all saved sensitive data should be encrypted meaning the data is scrambled using a complex algorithm.

If you would like to learn more or discuss how a web application could benefit your business then get in touch here.