To build in-house or not to build, that is the question.
So, you’ve got an app. It’s functional, has a strong user base, and is growing fast. You’ve decided that it’s time to look into A/B testing in order to take your mobile platform to the next level. Many companies struggle with choosing between building versus buying the necessary software, and there are countless arguments for both sides. However, developing in-house carries a lot more risk, and we’ve put together a list of potential pitfalls to look out for.
While reading through this, it is important to recognize that every company is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, keep in mind your strengths and weaknesses during your evaluation. If you begin to think that these concerns might affect your mobile product or team, A/B testing in-house could be a hazardous choice.
1. It’s going to cost you. Like, really cost you.
It should be no surprise that creating a good internal testing system will require a large initial investment. For big companies that are comfortable covering the necessary expenses, building in-house may prove to have a great ROI. Netflix, LinkedIn, and Facebook have sophisticated A/B testing systems of their own, with large budgets to back them up. Weighing the pros and cons of your company from a fiscal standpoint is an important initial step.
This isn’t an expense to take lightly — be financially cautious.
2. Time may not be on your side.
Without a doubt, an in-house solution requires time and effort in terms of upkeep on top of initially building it. If you need results fast and don’t want to spend too much energy on maintenance down the road, outsourcing will save you countless weeks and months of iteration. Booking.com spent 8 years developing their software, and it’s still evolving. How much time are you willing to put in?
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your in-house A/B testing platform won’t be either.
3. Cut your engineers some slack.
Building in-house will take the biggest toll on the engineering team. From the initial ideation to planning and implementation, your developers are going to have a lot on their plate. For smaller teams that are working on a lot of other technical projects, you risk spreading them too thin. Building in-house from scratch requires motivation and time commitment on behalf of the developer team. Be sure to take into consideration their workload and priorities before coming to a decision.
Is this the best use of your developers’ time, and is everyone on board?
4. Make sure you empower your entire mobile team.
A/B testing thrives when it’s immersed in a culture of strong collaboration. What may happen with an in-house system is that the developers become well-versed in performing tests and updating the code through the back-end. As a result, the rest of the mobile team will have less opportunity to actively participate, or even access data. Alternatively, many external solutions offer codeless changes or visual editors that can be used by marketers, product managers, and engineers alike. An inclusive testing environment should be an end-goal, whether you decide to outsource or not.
Work smarter as a team, not harder.
5. You don’t have to do this alone.
Outsourcing opens up access to invaluable external support that can help new A/B testers hit the ground running. Customer Success is there to lend a hand from the get-go, often diving deep into experiments alongside mobile teams. They’re able to assist with preparing, launching, and analyzing tests from beginning to end. If anything goes wrong, emergency Triage can quickly resolve the issue instead of leaving you to struggle on your own.
6. Working well is better than simply working.
You can’t miss something you never had. Unfortunately, if your in-house testing tool lacks certain features or abilities, you’ll never know what you could have accomplished. Internal ad hoc reports and unfiltered data won’t offer an in-depth analysis of your experiment’s effectiveness.
Many established external solutions have strong user segmenting and various analytics integrations that allow for a seamless experience the first time around. Internally, it’s hard to reach that same level of sophistication. Most companies have other projects to focus on, whereas A/B testing platforms are able to delve deep into the product itself and truly optimize functionality.
Better features and steady performance can be the difference between good and great testing.
7. Don’t put your user experience in danger.
With a large number of MAUs, a small glitch could affect a sizeable portion of your user base. Problems could range anywhere from slower load time to visual issues. Or, the ultimate horror story: the app crashes altogether for your targeted customers. It’s difficult to prevent user obstacles when you aren’t able to see them coming. External A/B testing solutions have dealt with technical issues all across the board, and have likely developed the necessary safeguards. Even if bugs pop up, it’s probably not the support team’s first time handling a similar issue.
Never throw your app’s overall performance out the window.
Building in-house isn’t an impossible task. Some companies do it really well, and reap the rewards. However, others find that it isn’t worth the headaches and the time that they lose. It’s no question that A/B testing can do wonders for your mobile app in terms of acquisition and retention among others.
The first step to success is finding a solution that works for you.
Have any questions about building versus buying an A/B testing platform? Comment below or send us an email at email@example.com.
All GIFs courtesy of GIPHY.