App Design Cost: What to Expect From UI/UX Design Vendors
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When developing a new product, you have two main questions to answer: how much does it cost to hire an app developer and how much does it cost to design an app? The short but unsatisfying answer is: it depends. The average cost can span from $3000 to $30,000 and higher. But it’s probably not the answer you came for.
Eleken is a team of SaaS product designers, so it’s our main duty to develop outstanding UI/UX design for projects of different sizes and shapes for companies from different domains. It is impossible to give a specific answer how much does app design cost without taking into account the key factors that influence the numbers. So, in this article we will shed light on the intricacies behind this wide-ranging price spectrum.
Factors affecting SaaS app design cost
When we want to buy a car, we can easily learn its exact price just by looking at a price tag. But we rarely think about how much it costs to design and produce that car. The situation with app development costs is quite similar: clients have some budget allocation and expect to receive an app prototype within this amount, but they don’t know how many design iterations and tests the project would go through before designers come up with a suitable solution.
Complexity of the app and design process
Not all projects are the same, and there is no one-size-fits-all design process. Still, design is definitely much more than “drawing” in Figma. It consists of many steps and depends on many variables that are difficult to foresee.
When determining the cost to design an app, complexity plays a significant role, as it directly translates into the working hours and number of iterations. App complexity refers to the level of intricacy involved in developing the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) elements of the application.
Generally, there are three complexity levels when it comes to designing an app
- Simple apps are characterized by their limited scope, typically consisting of three screens or fewer, and lacking animations and interactive design elements. Examples of simple apps include calculators and alarms, which serve basic functions without requiring extensive UI/UX features.
- Average complexity apps encompass a broader range of features and interactivity. These apps employ multiple interactive elements, animations, and consist of several screens. They are typically designed separately for Android and iOS platforms, adhering to platform-specific guidelines such as human interface design and Google Material design principles.
- High complexity apps heavily rely on mobile app design to fulfill their purpose. These apps are usually cross-platform and often incorporate numerous animations and transitions to guide users seamlessly across multiple screens, with the ultimate goal of converting them into regular users.
Depending on the project, the number of steps needed to complete the scope of work may differ, so the number of hours that the designer will spend doing your project differs as well. And that’s one more thing that makes the cost to design an application vary.
Below is the list of the most common steps of the product design process that may influence the project’s price:
In some cases your design team will have to undergo all the above-mentioned stages, in others they can omit some. But in summary, the complexity of an app and the process that your team has to undergo to come up with a user-friendly design solution affects the general product design cost.
Cost depending on the location of a team
In addition to app complexity, the location of the design team is another crucial factor that affects app design costs. Different regions and countries have distinct market rates and cost of living, resulting in variations in hourly rates and overall project costs. To hire a UI/UX designer from the US or Western Europe, for example, you will generally have to pay more than for teams located in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America due to taxes and higher cost of living. By considering the location of the development team, businesses can assess their budget constraints and explore opportunities to collaborate with skilled professionals in locations that provide competitive pricing while maintaining a high level of expertise.
Take a look at how UI/UX designer salary varies from country to country.
Custom design vs UI kits
When it comes to app UI design cost, the approach taken in creating the visual elements can significantly impact the overall cost. Two common approaches to discuss here are custom design and utilizing UI libraries and kits.
Custom design involves creating high-quality unique visual elements specific to the app's branding and requirements. This approach offers a high level of flexibility and allows for a personalized user experience. However, it often requires more time, effort, and expertise from the design team, which can increase the mobile app design cost. Custom design is commonly employed when businesses aim to differentiate their app and create a distinctive visual identity.
UI libraries and kits, on the other hand, provide pre-made UI components, templates, and design elements that can be easily integrated into an app. These libraries and kits offer a wide range of options and styles, saving time and effort in designing from scratch. They can lower mobile app UI design cost, especially for simpler apps with standard UI requirements. However, they may not provide the same level of uniqueness and customization as custom design.
The choice between custom design and UI libraries/kits depends on factors like budget, timeline, app complexity, and desired level of uniqueness. Custom design is preferable for apps that require a distinctive look and feel, while UI libraries and kits can be suitable for projects with tighter budgets or shorter development cycles. Understanding the trade-offs and discussing the options with the design team can help businesses make an informed decision that aligns with their goals and resources.
The type of design team
The form of collaboration and how much the team charges for UI/UX design services will also affect the overall app designers cost. There are several popular forms of collaboration, including hiring in-house designers, partnering with freelancers, or working with design agencies.
Hiring in-house designers is a common option, especially for businesses with ongoing projects or the need for regular product design updates. With this approach, you pay a flat rate and onboard a new team member who can contribute to your projects for an extended period. But hiring in-house designers comes with additional costs. One-time expenses include providing necessary equipment such as computers and tablets. Additionally, you would need to cover costs like insurance and sick leaves for the designer. There may also be unexpected expenses if overtime or outsourcing becomes necessary due to a larger workload. And of course don't forget about taxes and benefits. Mandatory payments will vary depending on the country, but in general, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits account for 29.6% of the average cost per private industry employee.
Working with freelancers involves paying an hourly rate, which varies depending on their qualifications and experience. While freelancers may not charge less than their full-time counterparts, you can save money on benefits and equipment costs. But it is important to be cautious when hiring freelance designers, particularly if you lack experience in managing them. Inexperienced freelancers can pose risks to your project, potentially leading to the need for redesigning and rebuilding your product if something goes wrong.
Design agencies typically charge based on the scope of the project, making it difficult to estimate cost of mobile app design without requesting a personalized quota. While the cost may be higher compared to other options, working with an agency can save time on searching, hiring, onboarding, and project management when compared to hiring in-house designers. It provides access to a skilled team of designers with diverse expertise.
Keep in mind that location may play a vital role here, and a local US agency will undoubtedly cost you far more than outsourcing to an overseas partner.
Project-based fee is not the only way to cooperate with a design agency. At Eleken we tailored a pricing model that works the best for the industry.
How we charge at Eleken
Eleken specializes in designing SaaS products solely and works on a time-based retainer pricing model. This means you pay a fixed fee for a set amount of time and receive UI/UX designers working on your project remotely and on full-time basis. That’s why the application design cost depends on the amount of time needed to perform a scope of work.
To better understand our principle of work, think of Eleken as a software-as-a-service product.
- We are a subscription-based service. You can buy a monthly subscription and have access to product designer/s working exclusively on your project from Monday to Friday, 8 hours per day during the whole month.
- We have a free-trial period. You can use our “product” for three days free of charge to feel all the advantages of this collaboration and decide if Eleken satisfies their needs.
- You clients can prolong, cancel, upgrade or downgrade your subscription. Similar to SaaS services, the trial period can help you decide whether to buy a full monthly subscription or not. As well, if needed, you can add more designers or ramp the team down.
- It’s up to you how to manage our designers. Here we can again compare Eleken with a SaaS product. For example, when two different people subscribe to Netflix, one of them watches just one movie during the whole month, and another watches TV series every day. But they both pay the same price for a subscription. Similarly, when you hire a UI/UX designer at Eleken, it’s up to you what they will do during the subscription term.
Now, let’s see what influences the project duration by analyzing what design processes are included in app design at different stages of product development (based on our experience).
How long it takes Eleken to design an app
And again, we start with a statement that was already mentioned (not once): All projects are different, all products are different, and a time spent working on them influences app UX/UI design cost. The steps to design an MVP, and the steps needed to redesign app are not the same, therefore they can’t be done in the same time period.
The second point is that we don’t estimate a specific deliverable (wireframe, moodboard, user flow, and so on) but the process you need to undergo to create a suitable design solution.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at two projects we’ve worked on and see how long it took us to design them.
Ricochet360 came to us for a product redesign. It’s a cloud phone system and CRM platform. Since CRM platforms are usually bulky, complex, have a lot of functions, and integrations, our task was to simplify the product design-wise, making it intuitive and easy to use for sales teams. Not a one-week task, right?
It took our designer two months to complete the scope of work. Here are the steps of Ricochet’s design process:
- Visual concept validation. We created several variants of one screen with different typography, colors, and buttons, and our client chose the one that served us as a direction for further designs.
- Design audit. We analyzed the existing product to identify the flaws of the current design and develop a plan on how to fix them.
- Screen restructuring. During the third phase, common for redesign projects, we disassembled old screens on basic elements to understand what steps users take to complete tasks, and what elements we can add to make it easier for them to achieve the desired results.
- Designing new screens. Based on visual concepts approved with our client at the beginning of the redesign process, our designer created final mock-ups.
Key points that influenced our work speed were effective communication and the fact that Ricochet360’s team came to us prepared: they defined objectives, had a clear product vision, knew what they wanted to refine in their product.
Ricochet360 “Add a new lead” page redesign
This way, the cost of Ricochet360 app redesign was equal to the sum of two monthly subscriptions.
Now Gamaya, a data analysis platform, is our regular customer that keeps returning for additional design services. But when they came to us for the first time for a product redesign, Gamaya didn’t have a clear understanding of what exactly they needed: a complete UI/UX overhaul or just refreshing the visual part. For that reason, we turned to the design thinking method:
- Empathize. We conducted research to better understand the product, the user, and the market.
- Define. Based on the research, we analyzed the current Gamaya’s product to understand what needs to be refreshed and refined.
- Ideate. We brainstormed various solutions to highlight opportunities for innovation and understand what Gamaya’s team expects to get as the result.
- Prototype, test, and implement. We used the UI component library to reduce the software development time and adapted our design to this library. As well, we thought out a convenient UI for a mobile app.
It took us almost a month to ideate and create a concept to find the right direction for further design solutions. That’s why our first collaboration with Gamaya was equal to the sum of the monthly subscription.
Now you see, that two projects with the same task (to redesign) can have two completely different design processes and can’t last the same amount of time. Thus, the time needed to perform the scope of work depends on:
- Type of project
- The level of preparation of our client
Finally, it’s important to mention that the way our agency works doesn’t suit every design project, but it perfectly fits the clients we serve.
5 ways to reduce your budget
Dealing with UI/UX design for more than six years already helped us understand how business owners can reduce the cost to design a mobile app. Here is some advice.
- Define the scope of work before hiring designers. Don’t neglect the discovery phase. When you understand what you want to achieve with the design, have a rough plan of actions, and a vision of a future product you will save time (and consequently, money) needed to design an app. Otherwise, a design team will have to spend time developing and offering you a variety of concepts to choose the right direction, before they can start actual work.
- Prepare all the content and visuals beforehand. Designers are not content creators, you have to take care of copy, texts for inputs, images, videos, and the like.
- Be involved in the design process. Communicating and providing feedback on time helps designers work faster and more effectively. If your team has to wait several days for each approval, the whole process will take twice as long as it could be. Share your opinion about each aspect of the project as soon as possible.
- Hire professional product designers. The more experienced and involved a designer is, the less you're going to pay, as it takes less time for experienced designers to cope with design challenges.
- Hire Eleken. Eleken is a team of experienced SaaS product designers. We don’t charge for PMs, QAs, or account managers. As we are a remote team, you don’t have to pay for office rent, work equipment, additional compensation – we care about all these overhead costs. You only pay for the actual design.
To sum up
The cost of app design is influenced by a multitude of factors that are often difficult to determine upfront. Variables such as app complexity, the location of the development team, the type of design approach, and the chosen form of collaboration all contribute to the final cost. Additionally, factors such as project scope, timeline, and specific requirements can further impact pricing.
Due to the inherent complexity and unique nature of each app project, it is challenging to accurately predict the cost from the beginning. However, by understanding these key factors and working closely with experienced professionals, you can navigate the app design process while making informed decisions that align with their goals and budgetary constraints.
Need help with designing your SaaS application? Contact us.
How to Differentiate Your SaaS Value Proposition on a Market Full of Similar Offerings
Gartner's research on the New B2B Buying Journey shows that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of their time meeting with sales representatives. Most of the time buyers run their own independent research on the web.
People are looking for an offer that suits their needs in the best possible way. A clear and distinctive value proposition is something that can catch the prospect's eye just like good packaging stands out even at the loaded supermarket shelf.
But you can rarely find a clear and distinctive value proposition on the SaaS market because the statements companies use to self-identify are usually…
- lack points of difference.
In this article, Eleken UI/UX agency will help you to figure out how to build your SaaS value proposition in a way that you'll avoid the three pitfalls from above.
If you want more information on the idea of the enterprise value proposition and frameworks that help to coin one, take a look at our article on defining a product value proposition.
Find the core value your customer gets
The value proposition is your SaaS business and its competitive advantage in a short, memorable promise of value to be delivered, that you can communicate through marketing, sales, and customer success messaging.
The idea seems easy and straightforward if you sell something you could actually grasp, like coffee, furniture, or cat food. But for SaaS companies that sell non-physical products, it's hard to find the right words. Thus, the SaaS market is full of senseless landing pages with pompous titles.
Words like “world-class” or “cutting-age” are just white noise, they don’t give any information to the user. The rest of the titles name the product category at best but communicate no value to draw the attention as the viewer's eyes skim through the page.
To make your value proposition meaningful, start by boiling it down to the key benefit your customers get. According to Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint, all value propositions of SaaS startups can be broken down into three fundamental categories.
1. Apps that increase revenue
“Buy our software and you’ll double your leads.” Who wouldn't want that?
Software that increases revenue is the easiest to sell since for most companies, growth is the top priority. Most lead generation, marketing automation, and sales acceleration apps fall under this category.
Look at what Salesforce claims on its main page. The company literally sells users their future profits. The company backs its promises with a specific figure and makes it trustworthy by quoting a real company and a real person behind it.
2. Apps that reduce costs
“With our software, you’ll save millions of dollars.” Not so impressive as the promise to earn millions of dollars, but still works. Software that cuts down the costs offers efficiency as their value proposition. Such solutions optimize workflows, automate operations and remove silos out of your work.
Take PandaDoc, a business document processing app, as an example. Making your processes more efficient, the app can reduce the amount of work to be done, and, as a result, operational costs. Thus, PandaDoc promises to “take the work out of your document workflow”.
3. Apps that improve productivity
“We’ll help you collaborate better, therefore you’ll be able to increase your revenue/reduce your costs.” To this category belong collaboration tools like Figma, Zoom, or Slack.
Productivity apps’ value proposition is one step away from revenue increases or cost reductions, therefore it may sound somewhat blurry. But since the word went remote, the correlation between team productivity and business success became obvious. So productivity as a value proposition requires no further explanations.
Here’s a value proposition example from Figma. The company allows the work to be done remotely, and therefore, the revenue to come.
Narrow the target market
The product or service you are selling matters, but the people you are selling to are equally important. The better you know your target audience, the easier it will be to offer them true value. And the best way to know your target audience for a startup is to narrow it down to a specific group of people.
Let’s see how it works on the example of Gridle, one of Eleken’s clients.
Gridle (later changed its name into Clientjoy) is a growth operating system, it belongs to the same product category as Salesforce and sells its users the ability to increase their revenue.
Salesforce, as well as most large CRM (customer relationship management) companies, focus on large or medium-sized enterprises. To stand out from their competitors, Gridle decided to focus on a narrow niche of small creative agencies and freelancers.
What Gridle offers on their website
Small businesses and freelancers, who used to run their businesses in a fast and flexible way, feel especially keenly that CRM systems are too damn complicated. Using the CRM doesn’t help with customer management, it rather slows the workflow down. Looks like an opportunity window for a niche lightweight CRM.
Make your value proposition distinctive
Have you managed to determine your audience and the core value that the audience gets? You're halfway there, but it’s time to think about your points of differentiation.
Each software category has a multitude of providers with similar offerings. Although each provider tries to differentiate their offering, most of them appear to be equal to a potential user doing a cursory review.
To make your software value proposition more specific, figure out how you can do your job differently.
Everyone in the business of CRM shouts with a megaphone that “CRM is easy,” but if you ask a crowded room how many find their CRMs easy, there would hardly be a hand showing.
Customer relationship management apps are elephants in the world of SaaS products. They are huge and sluggish, they have a hard time trying to mediate conflicting needs of sales and marketing staff. The former need to enter minimal client information quickly. The latter need to be able to profile and segment customers, which requires more detailed information. Trying to satisfy both parties, CRMs often end up satisfying none.
With the CRM niche’s bad rap in mind, the Gridle team decided to make simplicity of use and a smooth user experience their distinctive feature. To turn the ambition into reality, Gridle used Eleken’s product redesign services.
It took us about three months to redesign Gridle. We conducted a UX audit and numerous user interviews to detect the product’s bottlenecks. Next, we recreated the entire platform to make it more intuitive and usable. When Gridle's CTO showed the updated design to some of their users, they were excited and said that they couldn't wait to start using the revamped app.
The key takeaway
So here are three questions Gridle answered to build a quality value proposition:
- What do they do? CRM software that helps users to increase revenue.
- Who is their target audience? Small agencies and freelancers.
- How do they do it differently? Stellar user experience is what sets Gridle apart from competitors.
Looks like Gridle’s value proposition worked out pretty well. Six months after our cooperation successfully ended, the company raised $800,000 in a Series A funding round.
If you want to build an effective value proposition for your SaaS application, be like Gridle.
- Don’t use an Oxford dictionary to find extravagant, yet meaningless words for your headings. Better think of the core benefit you offer.
- Remember that you can’t please everyone. So you better decide on your target niche.
- Think of audiences’ pain points that your competitors are missing and find a way to solve them. That would help you to excel in a crowded market.
And if you decide that exceptional user experience is going to be your distinctive feature, hire Eleken UI/UX designers.
Product Life Cycle Strategies to Level Up Your SaaS Marketing
The “product life cycle” concept was first introduced by the marketing rock star Theodore Levitt in 1965 in his classic Harvard Business Review article. 55 years afterward, we can safely incorporate it into the phrase 'nothing is certain except for death, taxes and the product life cycle'.
It's amazing how an old-school idea remains as relevant as ever for an edgy SaaS market. It offers startups the ability to predict what will contribute to positive growth in the future, instead of learning from the mistakes of the past.
Product Life Cycle: Concept and Strategies
The classic graph for the product life cycle is a sales curve that progresses through four stages:
- Introduction – a sharp rise as a product getting off the ground;
- Growth – a period of the sharpest rise;
- Maturity – a sustained, rounded peak in sales;
- Decline – a gradual decrease in sales that leads to withdrawal from the market.
How do marketing strategies change during the product life cycle? They must develop along with the changes in product, market, and competitors over the product life cycle. Let's consider how product life cycle strategies work with examples of top-notch SaaS companies.
Marketing Strategies for the Introduction Stage
The Introduction stage of the product life cycle starts from the moment when the product or service first comes to market. During this stage, the marketing goal is to create awareness and make the audience try a new offer.
The Introduction is no way the time you want to prolong — it’s the painful moment of big spending, big losses, struggle to break even, and unknowable risks. 92% of SaaS startups fail smashed by the Introduction. If you’re going to spend effort, time and money getting your business off the ground, you better have a go-to-market strategy.
Go-to-market strategy (GTM) is basically a plan of how a company acquires, retains, and grows customers. So what is product life cycle marketing strategies for the first stage?
The theory offers three main GTM strategies: sales-led, marketing-led and product-led. The marketers argue about which one is better. The practice shows you’ll probably need a proper mix of them.
Do you remember how your company adopted Slack? I don’t know your story but let me tell mine. Once Max heard about Slack from his friend, started using it with his team and after a while, the whole company was on Slack, and no one had an idea of how it worked before. Sounds familiar, right?
Business software sale algorithms require us to reach the C-suite, hold several rounds (and many months) of negotiations that would be worth a ton of money and give uncertain results. Slack just showed up in the workplace unannounced, with no salespeople, prezzies or calls. End users found the product and asked the boss to buy it.
That’s what we call a successful product-led strategy. The strategy assumes using your product as the main vehicle to acquire, activate, and retain customers. Simply put, you make every effort to create a product that people consistently recommend to friends and colleagues.
In the case of SaaS, the right pricing strategies at different stages of product life cycle can support bottom-up distribution with minimal effort and cash infusions.
Product-led go-to-market strategy fueling the fastest growing software companies, like Slack, Notion and Dropbox. No wonder that “product-led” became a buzzword, often contrasted to old-school “ineffective” sales- and marketing-led strategies. However, marketing is not about abandoning the old and welcoming the new. We know that Max first learned about Slack from his friend. But how, pray tell, his friend knew about the app?
To support their product development efforts and get maximal exposure Slack worked with multiple PR agencies that promoted Slack’s unique hook: “The Email Killer” in the top tech media. In a short time, the company got published in TechCrunch, The Verge, Fast Company, VentureBeat, Inc.com, etc.
Using traditional marketing channels helps to gain momentum and trigger product-led growth, but it usually costs tons of money. Google Ads PPC prices can exceed $50 per click from the most expensive keywords in competitive industries like law, insurance, loans, etc. $50 per click is not what startups can usually afford, so they go into content marketing.
A smart content marketing strategy can deliver three times more leads than paid advertising and, what is more important, unlike PPC, it creates a compounding effect, where traffic from previously published articles adds to traffic from newer articles.
TaxJar, a SaaS focused on solving a sales tax problem, made helpful content a cornerstone of their go-to-market strategy. The idea of becoming the number one educator in the industry is not something new when we speak about subjects like marketing, where people like Neil Patel and brands like Hubspot ceding the entire space for a long long time. However, entering an industry like tax, you may see a lot of low hanging competitive differentiator fruits on your radar.
Sales led strategy
Slack was designed to sell itself, with its simple intuitive product and a generous free plan. Even though the company has a sales department and adds elements of sales-led strategy as they expand into the enterprise market.
The sales-led strategy works perfectly for B2Bs that sell services, and it’s partially how we find clients for our design services at Eleken. On our very first screen, in the upper right corner, you see the big bright shiny button inviting you to talk about your UI/UX dsign goals and find out how we can help.
Marketing Strategies for the Growth Stage
When the awareness is there, comes the Growth stage of product life cycle, characterized by the sharpest rise in sales. Early adopters continue using the product, and the later buyers start following their lead, especially if they hear favorable word-of-mouth. The first profits are now beginning to come in, the growth curve spikes up.
The sharp rise never lasts long, so at this stage our aim is to climb up the curve as high as possible to maximize a market share.
How the company can maximize a market share during the Growth stage:
- Spend on improving the product and developing new features.
- Enter new market segments and grow sales further by selling through new distribution channels.
- Shifts marketing efforts from making consumers try the product to making them prefer the product.
Though, running uphill, the firm faces a new pitfall — a trade-off between high market share in the future and high profit now. By investing money to gain a strong position in the industry, improving the product and developing new features, it gives up maximum current profit. It’s a necessary sacrifice which the company hopes to make up in the next stage
The second pitfall comes along with the competition. Fighting for a market share is a zero-sum game when the gain for us is exactly offset by the loss of the other players. So you need to knock out the companies that already hold a market share. At the same time, you need to resist the pressure from new competitors that enter the market attracted by the opportunities for profit.
When thinking about product life cycle extension strategies examples, the story of Notion comes to mind first. Now Notion is booming on the market of productivity apps, but long before it appeared, the market already had a visible leader — Evernote. Over the past two years, Notion became viral and managed to shatter Evernote’s position.
Notion also creatively poaches customers from its competitors by boldly calling out unsatisfied users of Evernote to leave their old elephant. They have built a dedicated resource to help such users migrate to Notion in just a few clicks.
Competition is there even for innovative products. If you’re offering a new way of solving a problem, you still need to poach users of an old solution. In the case of Slack-the-email-killer, such an indirect competitor was a habit to use emails for internal communication.
Marketing Strategies for the Maturity Stage
The Maturity phase represents the height of a product’s adoption and profitability. The highest point of the curve here depends on how well the job was done on the Growth stage.
The first sign of maturity is market saturation — when most of the target consumers are already using the product. The aim here is to extend the maturity phase and maximize profit while defending market share.
The maturity stage normally lasts longer than the previous ones, and it poses strong challenges to marketing management. Competitors begin to cut prices, increase their advertising and sales promotions, and raise their budgets to improve the product. These steps lead to a drop in profit. Some of the weaker competitors start dropping out of the industry, and the industry eventually contains only well-established brands.
Let’s consider the example of Evernote. In its heyday, the company consistently ranked as a top-ranking productivity app. But its maturity stage turned out to be pretty dramatic — the company cycled through four chief executives, several rounds of layoffs, three office closings and the shuttering of numerous side projects.
When Evernote’s growth began to slow in 2015, the company tried to identify new demographics for the product and chose to concentrate on enterprise software. However, the product lacked essential features and was complicated to use, so sales of Evernote’s business product never exceeded 15 percent of revenue.
Evernote tried to increase the revenue by inspiring more usage among present customers — but in the wrong way. Unlike Notion, which developed a new feature and asked users to pay for it, Evernote took away some features from the freemium plan and moved them to more expencive editions forcing users to pay more. Needless to say that they were unhappy.
In the meanwhile, the product has developed a “unique collection of bugs” pushing old fans to leave Evernote for more convenient and often free note-taking apps, like Google Keep or Apple Notes. Two years ago, tech blogs declared the company was in a “death spiral” due to flat user growth and a lack of enterprise adoption.
Since then, Evernote has made considerable progress in its new apps, rebuilding them from the ground up and shipping software faster than they have in years.
Evernote’s story represents the full spectrum of marketing ups and downs the company can make struggling to keep the balance on the maturity life cycle stage. In the project’s blog Ian Small, Evernote's CEO, explain product life cycle strategies in his unusually frank blog posts on the company's progress.
Marketing Strategies for the Decline Stage
Sales decline for many reasons, including technological advances, shifts in consumer tastes, and increased competition. The Decline stage of product life cycle may be prolonged, as in the case of malls that quietly ceding ground to online shopping, or rapid, as in the case of foldable paper maps killed by smartphone navigation.
At some point, because of the decline in sales, the cost of running the project exceeds the profit it makes. The management should identify declining products timely to make a decision whether to maintain, harvest for cash or drop the project.
Some companies choose to withdraw the product from the market. The list of projects killed by Google, for instance, numbers into the hundreds.
Those companies remaining may optimize their expenses to the minimum. They may concentrate on the most profitable market segments, drop the prices, and cut down the marketing budget.
There's also an option to modify and resurrect the product, as Steve Jobs did to Apple that almost failed in the 90s. His efforts resulted in one of the brightest business comebacks ever.
To sum up
You never know how long each stage will take or how high the graph will rise. You don't even know whether the project go behind the first stage – as we remember, 92% of SaaS startups fail smashed by the Introduction.
But, knowing your product life cycle and marketing strategies at each stage, you design a proactive marketing approach. You know generally what’s coming next, what challenges you may face, what decisions you should make, and what questions you need to answer to execute timely and successful marketing campaigns.