Dan Laughlin is VP of Business Development at HyprMX, which brings Fortune 500 brands and Madison Avenue excellence to the world's top developers.
The right Software Development Kits (SDKs) are critical to a healthy mobile application.
Just like the right nutrients are in your diet, they're essential.
Thirdparty SDKs can deliver data, revenue, and engagement at a level not possible with server-based solutions - and yet you still should be wary of over-indulgence.
While features like analytics, marketing automation, and ad network mediation are all important parts of a mobile app strategy, you shouldn't throw in every SDK that comes your way.
'SDK bloat' can cause performance issues, such as slowing apps down or causing frequent crashes.
SDKs are an alternative to reinventing the wheel.
Investing time in choosing and integrating an analytics SDK, for example, can be faster and less expensive than building a tracking tool from scratch.
No SDK is a universal solution so you need to curate the right suite for your application.
And leveraging another company's efforts gives you more time to spend on what matters the most: creating and improving your application.
No SDK is a universal solution, though, so you need to curate the right suite for your application.
Consider these guidelines when developing an SDK portfolio:
- Use ROI-based decision making
What progress can you make with the help of a thirdparty? Where are the efficiencies? If you can't identify clear benefits, it's not worth your attention. Integrate only what's necessary.
- Avoid SDK creep from decentralized decision-making
To ensure the SDK portfolio efficiently addresses everyone's needs, your product, business, or engineering lead should set evaluation processes for the inclusion and retention of SDKs over time. Taking time upfront to understand the different priorities for each group will lead to a stronger, streamlined portfolio.
- Set periodical reviews for your SDK portfolio
SDKs may go out of date from time to time. Regularly assess your portfolio to ensure every SDK is working smoothly, delivering ROI, and not creating conflicts. Is an ad network crashing your app or delivering ads from competitors that you've blacklisted? Remove it.
- Evaluate the SDK market throughout the year
Checking the market for new competitors every now and then may be a good way to keep your partners on their toes, while also keeping in touch with the latest advancements.
- Consider the technology
It's important to pick an SDK that aligns with your business goals, and you should also look under the hood. Check for size, stability, memory usage, and the SDK's effect on battery life. How SDKs play with your app varies by situation, and you should test to see that the SDK doesn't weigh your app down.
- Check references
Letting an SDK into your app is like letting a contractor work on your house. You need to vet the vendor. Are they a new or an established player? Can they produce references from a credible set of your peers?
The right SDK can give your business a significant lift, and the wrong one can hurt.
Choose wisely and make sure your partner technology is built well and that it's battle-tested.
SDKs help you leverage existing technology to stay lean and accelerate deployments.
Outsourcing non-core functions can free up your best engineers to work on what differentiates your app in the marketplace. By determining up front where partnerships fit your business, and by consistently evaluating the performance of those partners, you can use SDKs to improve the performance and health of your app.
You can follow Dan on Twitter @hyprMX or email via firstname.lastname@example.org