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Adding a new feature to an existing app or create a different app?

Let's say you have already built an app, and, as things progress, you have new functionality in mind. That new functionality could become a new feature of the existing app, or, you could create an entirely new app containing that functionality.
How do you decide between these two options?

23 Replies

Jarred Hardman
2
0
Jarred Hardman Entrepreneur
Founder - Crowd & Co
If the new functionality provides value add to the current App, is something which will enhance your App, is something your Apps target market wants and you see it has generating additional revenue (from a captured market - its an easier sell to an existing client than acquiring a new one). But, if possible develop it as a module, which gives you the flexibility to convert it into a separate App once you have uptake from the users of your existing App.
Gil Allouche
1
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Gil Allouche Entrepreneur
Founder @ Metadata
from a marketing standpoint, creating a different app can get amazing results for marketing -- you can also seed the market/create buzz (see how-old.net, or hubspot site analysis tool or sidekick, or kissmetrics' tools etc) However, if it's tightly embedded in the product or an obvious feature that complements and offering but doesn't offer a whole lot of value independently -- it makes more sense to use it internally. Gil | metadata.io
Perri Blake Gorman
1
0
Founder of Archively & UnrollMe
I think it totally depends on your addressable market and the customer. Are you building functionality because it is an evolution of what the user needs or are you building functionality because you have some new idea? I think you need to make decisions based on dialed in understanding of behavior.
Paolo Mentonelli
1
0
Paolo Mentonelli Entrepreneur
Founder at BioRepublic Skincare
I guess a few things come to mind: 1) What customer problem does this feature solve? Does it make sense for it to stand alone? Is it tightly bound or related to the problem you're solving with the existing app? 2) Who are you solving the problem for? Is it the same set of users/personas the existing app is for? If yes, I would be inclined to keep it in app, if no possibly break it out. Have you verified with real, existing customers that the problem is a significant pain point for them? Do they want the new feature? 3) Following on two, let's say it is a different set of users or, more likely, a subset of existing users plus a new user community... How much is it going to cost you in terms of time and money to build a significant audience/user base for a new app? By how much do you expect to grow your market with this new feature/app? Do the numbers add up? 4) What are the UX trade-offs you have to make to incorporate the new feature into the existing app? Can you do it without degrading the experience with the existing app? HINT: if the problem you're solving doesn't apply to a significant portion of your existing user base the answer is probably not.
Patrick Hidalgo
1
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Patrick Hidalgo Entrepreneur • Advisor
Financial industry executive who is now writing software.
If it is really just a feature, I wouldn't confuse current users with a new product download rather than an automaticupgrade. It could lead to brand mush.
Jacob Duane Johnson
1
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Jacob Duane Johnson Entrepreneur
Artist and Creative Product Designer
Depends on what the feature is and if it elevates your app or clogs it. The biggest problem I see with creating a new app from a feature of an existing one is the migration of the current users. If the feature fits well within the current application, then why not just add it as an additional awesomeness? You get the luxury of converting existing users, as well as none of the hassle of marketing an entirely new application; which in turn has it's own barriers like market fit and visibility...and it's not as simple as "just promo the new app inside the existing one". That being said, if your current users are low, and you feel that this feature is a beneficial pivot, then moving on from the old application to the new one could have the benefits of a fresh start without all the bloat of the old app. If it were me, of course depending on my current user base, I would add it as an additional feature. I come from gaming tho, so I'm not much help. heh ;)
Jared Hardy
1
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Jared Hardy Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founding Director at Data Roads Foundation
Think of it as a UX problem, where you're integrating the OS app installer and launchers as UX elements. Remember that full UX constitutes environmental elements that are completely outside your control within any one app UI.

Is it always going to be the same set of customers going back and forth between both apps? Then it's probably best to add it as a feature to one app, so you can simplify the UX to minimize switching costs without depending on the OS.

Is it wholly different customers, or customers performing in unrelated contexts, where it makes more sense to have each feature set come with a different installer and app launch process? Then keep it separate apps, because in that case the OS switching costs don't exceed the screen real estate costs of adding more UI options.

In all these decisions, holistic user experience should come before marketing considerations.
Rajiv Unnikrishnan
1
0
Rajiv Unnikrishnan Entrepreneur
Global Product Manager, Entrepreneur, Startups, Web, Mobile, Cloud, E-Commerce, Podcaster, Marathons
I agree with Patrick stick to the original app and add the feature to add.
It's easier to build and concentrate on one product .
Mike Rozlog
1
0
Mike Rozlog Advisor
Advisor at TechColumbus
The starting questions are...
  1. Does this totally new functionality have anything to do with the original app?
  2. Is your first app priced to low?
  3. Does it open new markets beyond the original app?
  4. many other questions to help figure out the best approach
For #1, if it is totally new functionality that does not really relate to the existing app then a new app is the way to go. However, if the functionality is / would be expected as a feature in the existing app then you have to stay with that app and embrace and extend.

For #2, a lot of times when taking a product to market, people don't really do pricing models and when they do, they are overly optimistic about how sales will go and usually X% higher than what they actually turn out to be. This means that since sales are not strong enough to support the company additional money has to be raised, one way is to split functionality out and charge for each part and use the tag line that you pay only for the functionality you need not some full overpriced suite. However, most vendors after they get x number of functionality the combine and make a full product with a full price, it is just a stepping stone. If the price for the first app is too low, will adding the new functionality increase market adoption enough because you must have already figured out that people will not pay more for you app. Or, would it be better to release a new app to attract more people and have more exposure, thus a bigger market and hopefully increased sales for both apps.

For #3, this goes with #1 and #2... can you open new markets, if yes then build the new app. If it will extend your current market, the add to the current app and work on increasing market penetration.
Ted Neward
1
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Ted Neward Entrepreneur
Technologist, Leader, Coder, Author, Speaker
You dont differentiate between a mobile app or a web app, and that distinction can sometimes make a difference in the answers. In the case of a web app, cross-linking between web applications is pretty trivial, so its probably easier/better to build them as separate entities unless you have specific reasons to keep them unified--shared session state, unified login management, that sort of thing. Even then, its often possible to refactor the two back into one if the situation calls for it. (Or to do the reverse, quite honestly, though the URL management becomes trickier in those cases.) In the case of a mobile app, its a little bit harder to cross-link between the two. On Android, its much easier than on iOS, but either platform can make it work. This is where the discussion of how complementary/unified the two things (the existing app and the new feature) really are, and how unified you want the user experience to be, becomes more critical to the discussion. Id probably lean towards doing them separately (for versioning and reliability reasons if no other), but Id need to talk to you more deeply before I could make a solid recommendation. If its neither a web app nor a mobile app (in which case I can only assume its a desktop app), its almost certainly easier/better to keep them separate, since desktop applications have lots of ways to cross-pollinate/communicate between one another. Hope this helps.... Ted Neward Author, Speaker, Mentor http://www.newardassociates.com t: @tedneward | m: (425) 647-4526
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