We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.


June 30, 2020

Why In-house Development Makes Yellow Different

Typically, software companies seem to have two paths: developing their own apps or doing work outsourced by others. But why can’t we do both? Check out our article and learn how in-house development can support outsource work.

Mitya Smusin

Chief Executive Officer

When Yellow was just starting out, our team wasn’t expecting to create any in-house products. We were happy with outsourcing – helping our clients get their work done.

But this all changed when we took the plunge on our first self-created app. We went through the whole cycle, from the general idea to launching the app itself. The final result satisfied the entire team, and ever since, we have continued creating in-house products.

The best thing about building your own apps is that all the expertise you gain working on them can easily transfer to your outsourcing work! How can knowledge from in-house app development help you? We’ll tell you about that right now.

What we learned from in-house development

Our company was founded in 2015 as a web and mobile development agency. We created tech solutions for ideas that our clients brought to us. Our main task was to program the essential functions they wanted to see in their apps. Our team was focused on the tech side and we didn’t pay a lot of attention to the ideas themselves.

So, when we started creating our first in-house product, StickerBox, we didn’t know much about creating software from scratch. The idea of building this app came to us when we found out that Slack supports custom-made emojis. It was highly supported at a hackathon, so we decided to give it a go. 

StickerBox went through the whole development cycle: idea, prototyping, design, programming, review, testing, launching, and support. After everything was done and the app was released, we understood one truly important thing: 

Programming an app only occupies 20% of the entire product development effort. 

What makes the other 80%? Well, the list is pretty big: 

  • Before the development starts, it’s important to consider why you want to create the app, who your target audience will be, and what’s the best way of implementing each feature. At this stage, an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) can help shape the final version of the app.
  • Then, as you develop, you should think about the app’s content. How will the buttons be labeled? What will your notifications say to the users? How will the app onboard new users?
  • Finally, when the app is ready to launch, it’s time to devise a good marketing and advertising strategy! Good marketing plays a huge role in an app’s success and how well it appeals to your target audience.

Applying your new expertise to outsource development

In-house development literally opens new perspectives for digital agencies. It allows developers to look at the process of app development holistically – seeing it from all sides, not just the technical one. 

First, it helps move the focus from programming to business as a whole. Coding is only a means along the path to success. The most important part is to plan this path, highlight its most important parts, and analyze all possible ways to implement the product.

This analysis consists of many different processes, from experiments with advertisements to customer development. For example, it might be useful to create an empty landing page to find people who would be interested in your product. Then you can talk with them and discover what they would like to see in an app like yours and why they trusted you with their contact information.

Second, in-house development helps you notice the many possible alternatives for implementing a particular function and opt for the best one. Frequently, developers must choose between building a large and complex version of a feature or a smaller one, and the costs for each can vary drastically. But if the function won’t have a significant effect on the app’s functionality as a whole, it’s best to find a compromise for its development.

Finally, it helps you understand that every product needs a business model that will definitely pay off. Sometimes people begin developing software with only a vague notion of how they will make money from it. They think, “Well, yes, there will be some profit – someone will write a review or post a few sentences about my app.” Product promotion helps you understand that first you need to calculate the Unit Economics – the sum of all economic activities belonging to one unit of any product or service, loosely calculated as Lifetime Value (LTV) divided by Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC).

Thanks to our in-house products, we now believe that code is only a tool for completing the global goal, which comes first.

How we started creating our own apps

So, anyway, how did we get started? The very first app that we decided to take a chance on was StickerBox, an AI-based mobile application that lets users make fun stickers out of their photos. The main issue we had to resolve before StickerBox could see the light of day was face segmentation, and we found a successful solution.

Then our team decided to pivot and build… a game. TravelTrivia is an iOS trivia game where you answer fun questions about travel and tourism. It has ten difficulty levels, two types of questions, hints, and additional lives to continue if you fail a level. Because we were testing the idea of this type of game, we developed TravelTrivia as an MVP. The team united to achieve the best possible results, using all their experience from our previous projects, and the final result satisfied everyone.

After TravelTrivia, we decided to pay attention to our favorite industry – chats and chatbots. Dialog House is a chat development suite that makes life easier for those who want to build a chat or a chatbot and add it to their apps. With the help of Dialog House, you can create a true WhatsApp-like application experience.

The next app we built was Fonts Changer, a tool for iPhone personalization that lets you change the fonts in your messenger and text apps. While working on this project, our team needed to ensure that product creation was smooth. This required time, the introduction of techniques that were new to us, as well as involving the expertise of our many specialists.

At Yellow a couple of months ago, we noticed the rising interest in mobile apps that provide tools for meditation, mental health, mindfulness, and relaxation. Experimentation is our second nature, so we decided to jump on the bandwagon and try our skills in that area. So we created and released our latest app, Levitate.

Are we done? No way! We continue to generate ideas and create new apps for our audience.

To sum up

Developing our own products really means a lot to us. The expertise we gain creating our apps improves our skills and broadens our vision on app development. Here at Yellow, it means we don’t just help with programming your app. We can also help make your app a successful business.


Subscribe to new posts.

Get weekly updates on the newest design stories, case studies and tips right in your mailbox.