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What Hosting Provider Suits You: AWS vs DigitalOcean vs Hetzner [2022]

CPS logos connected to a server icon with plain lines

Out of dozens cloud hosting providers in Fora Soft we usually consider and build our projects on three: AWS, Digital Ocean, and Hetzner. None of them is universal so in this article we’ll dive deeper into what specific needs and requirements each can cover.

To know the cost of any of the servers listed for your project, use our Server cost calculator. It considers how many streamers and viewers you anticipate, and what quality your streaming service requires.

But first…

What is a cloud service and a cloud service provider (CSP)?

We describe cloud service as any kind of infrastructure that a third-party provider hosts and makes available to users through the internet. Basically cloud services make the process of data delivery from a user’s device to the processing systems easier. 

All it takes for a cloud service to work is software and hardware. Literally like any other IT thing. What makes it different is that a device, connection to the network, and an OS is enough to access cloud services. 

Cloud service providers use their own data centers, physically located processing systems we already mentioned, and host platform services for customer organizations. Now in detail about 3 of them we use.

AWS (Amazon Web Services)

AWS is the world’s most broadly adopted cloud platform with over 200 fully featured services from data centers globally. Basically a market leader. It serves 245 countries, has 27 already existing and 7 servers coming soon, all around the globe, on all continents.

It’s safe to say they offer the broadest set of technical opportunities. Among their clients are fast-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies. 

Why does AWS make a great solution

AWS is highly autonomous in its scalability. That means, the system ongoingly monitors changes in the system it hosts, detects the exact moment when it requires scalability and ensures that automatically. 

That results in a smaller chance of system crashing, better performance, and smoother user experience. 

Also what they have to show off is a plethora of IaaS’s (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS’s (Platform-as-a-Service). These are ready-made solutions on a pay-as-you go basis. 

Colorful icons in a cloud shape with AWS logo on top
AWS tools

But obviously, such a smart and complex solution costs money. The AWS cost is the highest out of 3 providers we cover in this article. To not waste a pretty penny, it’s better to think twice if your product really needs that kind of scalability opportunities. One of the ways to figure it out is to ask yourself how many users you expect in the first few months. 

In a nutshell, AWS is a great solution if your company is large and you anticipate a lot of users at once, or if you need more complex, yet ready-made solutions. 

DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean is another American solution with 14 data centers in total in Asia, Europe, and North America. Their positioning states 3 main principles: keeping it simple, at affordable price, yet high-quality. And they live by that, mostly focusing on developers’ needs. 

Why does DigitalOcean make great solution

Their pricing is one of the most affordable among other providers in general. Still, they show brilliant results in terms of performance. Their network speed is 1Gbps and the start-up time is only 55 seconds. 

As for keeping it simple, DigitalOcean products have neat user-friendly interfaces with one-click deployments. 

DigitalOcean interface and functionality

The downside of DigitalOcean is a not-so-big choice of functionalities and instruments. At least, compared to AWS. That means, in case there’s no suitable tool for your project’s specific requirements, you’ll have to develop your own. 

But after all, the DigitalOcean server cost is almost 7 times less. 

Long story short, DigitalOcean is a great pick if it’s your first release or an MVP and you’re looking for a cheap yet reliable cloud.

Hetzner Cloud

Hetzner Cloud is a German provider with data centers in 4 locations: in Bavaria and Saxony lands in German, in Helsinki, and in the state of Virginia, USA. 

Why does Hetzner Cloud make a great solution

Hetzner Cloud has all the essentials required to start an app, yet they keep prices low and affordable.  

So basically Hetzner, in terms of pricing and effectiveness, is a European alternative to DigitalOcean. As a bonus, it’s not that well known yet, so it’s even cheaper. Perfect for first releases and small startups. 

Since Hetzner locates its data centers mostly in Europe, you might want to consider building on it if you know for sure 90% of your users will be browsing from Europe. Otherwise you can end up losing in speed and overall user experience.

Another con is lack of agileness in choosing servers and tools, same as it is with Digital Ocean. 

Final thoughts

To sum it all up, here’re the essentials to consider when picking a CSP out of 3 listed:

  1. How many users do you expect to use your product at once?
  2. How fast do you plan to grow?
  3. Where are your users browsing from?

And now a quick summary on what each CSP:

You might want to build your product on AWS if you have to serve hundreds of thousands of people at once, have a big enterprise, or plan to grow fast.

DigitalOcean is a great pick for you if you’re looking for a low cost, yet reliable media server provider.

Hetzner Cloud will make it even cheaper, yet more suitable for Europe (but not limited by it). 

These are the main providers we work with, but if you have your own favorites or non of them seems to be a match, we can turn to any other CSP.

To calculate your monthly server costs, use our Server cost calculator. And to know the overall price of a project, contact us at info@fora-soft.com or our Head of Sales Vadim on Skype: vadim_prushchik

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What Should Come After The 1st MVP Release For It to Be a Success?

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In Fora Soft, when we release a product for the first time, it’s already an MLP (Minimum lovable product). But usually the first milestone in product development is MVP (Minimum viable product) launch. However, it’s not a point to stop. But what to do next? What comes after the MVP release and how do you know the product is ready? The answers are in this article. 

Gather feedback from your users

If you want your MVP to be a perfect product-market fit, it’s a good idea to make sure your clients understand what the product is about and how they should interact with it before promoting the platform. Otherwise there’s a chance you spend a pretty penny on marketing and get no result. 

Sign up for startup websites

Like these:

  1. Product Hunt 
  2. Indiehackers
  3. Betalist 

The scheme here is quite easy yet effective:

Your profit: 

  • feedback from real users = the “Do they need the product?” hypothesis testing 
  • badge on your website = trust level increase
Badge on a website

Test the platform on users

Determine your target audience 

TA is a group of people that are most likely interested in your product. They share some needs and wants or have similar ones. 

For instance, TA for an LMS-system is students and teachers that take and give lessons online. 

Test your product with focus groups

  1. Gather up a group of 10 people
    They shall be as close to how you describe your TA as possible. It’s better if they’re strangers to you — friends and family might not be objective.
  2. Decide what exactly you want to test
    For instance, your goal is to test how intuitively students interact with the platform.
    Describe the scheme: “Download the app, sign up, make basic actions (sign up for a class, attach a file with a completed assignment)”.
    Plan the result: “9 users will register, 5 will sign up for a class, 3 will attach their files”.
  3. Test the platform
    We recommend watching the users as they interact with the product: face-to-face or on a video call. You’ll notice some minor yet important details the user might’ve missed in a written report.
  4. Gather feedback
    Note what users could and couldn’t do or accomplish. What questions and issues have they faced? Were there lags or bugs they encountered? Did they like using the product, why? Would they recommend it to a friend? Would they use it themselves?

Carry out a customer development interview

Customer development interview (Custdev) — a means to get data while in-depth interviewing TA. While carrying out a custdev you discover current top-of-mind needs, preferred means of communication and content types. You’ll need these for the promoting campaign later. 

Tip: If you’re on a low budget and can’t afford a custdev, prepare the questions in advance and ask them while testing the product with the users. And if you’ve already made past-testing amendments, now it’s a good idea to see if the amendments are good and efficient.

Custdev aims at discovering how and where your TA gets information and what particular points for ads placement will be the most effective. 

There’re some Rules:

  1. Gather up a group of 10 people. They shall be as close to how you describe your TA as possible. Again, it’s better if they’re strangers to you — friends and family might be not objective. 
  2. Make a questionnaire. With the same questions for each of the respondents to prove the hypothesis.
  3. Ask open questions: how, what, why. Let the respondents share their experience in detail. Don’t ask them for a particular solution. Just find out what the problem is and why solving it is important for the respondent. 
  4. Ask follow up questions.
  5. Remain in the present. Ask them how they act right now (no woulda-shoulda-coulda and Past tenses). Focus on how they tend to act. And better not ask about the future or wishes. The respondent may subconsciously want to appear better than they are and respond accordingly, but it won’t correlate with how they act in a real setting. 
  6. Record the interview. You’ll get a bigger load of data and will be able to come back to it anytime you need, the data mining will be more effective.

Questions you might want to ask

Process the feedback

Effective feedback processing and eliminating product flaws are two Atlases of successful products. If a user can’t fulfill their needs and wants with a product, or the first-use experience is unpleasant, they won’t waste their time on it anymore. 

How to process feedback correctly:

  1. Discuss the feedback with the team
  2. Brainstorm on possible solutions and improvements together
  3. Make up a to-do list for the next release. Use MoSCoW prioritization method (Must have, Should have, Could Have, Won’t have (this time)) to prioritize: 

1st Priority: features that the product Must have. These are the essentials for the current development stage. If a product doesn’t have them, it won’t be successful. Basically, an MVP already has it. You can only improve them or add new ones if the custdev shows it’s necessary. 

2nd Priority: features that are important for the current stage but aren’t that critical. A product Should have them in the next development sprint. 

3rd Priority: features that could make a product better if there was additional development budget. It’s what the product Could have at its best. 

4th Priority: features that will definitely not be in the product, at least for the next 2 timeboxes. It’s what it Won’t have. 

We recommend focusing on the 1st and 2nd priorities as they suggest most needed improvements for the current period of time. The 3rd and 4th ones are just possible enhancements. When improving the product, you may see it change dramatically so there won’t be any need for the features of the 3rd and 4th priorities. So it’s better not to waste your funds and your analysts team’s time on that. 

Make changes to the product 

Adapt your MVP to be better product-market fit with your clients. Develop and test 1st and 2nd priorities improvements. Besides custom solutions, some common ones are have the same intentions: explain how to use the platform for newbies and keep them engaged. 

Onboarding

Automated platform introduction to a user. The goal is to demonstrate what it is for, how to use it properly, and what the benefit is. It makes the user experience much smoother and leaves a good first impression.

Minor interface adjustments 

Product adaptation is a nice product enhancement strategy. It’s a pretty common thing when a user can’t find the target action button or doesn’t get how to interact with certain functionalities. It’s crucial to keep abreast, keep track of the feedback. 

This is why sometimes it’s a good idea to test how comprehensible and intuitive the interface is to the user if there’s no additional navigation. It’s easy to assess. Let’s say the user scenario suggests that the “Sign up for a class” action takes 3 steps. When testing the product you see that the user takes some workarounds and accomplishes it in 10 steps. Meaning something in the interface wasn’t clear for them. This will help add new useful features and enhance existing UX and UI in the next product version. 

Referral system

It’s a way for the platform to “collaborate” with the user by rewarding the referrer for attracting new users. Nothing motivates better than personal gain. Think of what would be enough of a motivation for one to stick to their friend asking for a favor. 

Notifications

One of the significant metrics of the app effectiveness is user engagement. How frequently they open the app, how much time they spend in it. Notifications will help with the first. Pique their interest with words and emojis only. 

Custom email newsletters will work for web apps.

Text update applying Tone of Voice

If you use texts at the MVP stage (in pop-ups, welcome-screens, etc.) make them consistent in Tone of Voice. These are the rules by which the brand communicates with the users. 

Does your product target teens? Use more slang to be on the same wavelength. Is your TA mostly businessmen and entrepreneurs? Address the users more respectfully and make the communication concise, maybe even formal. 

Relevant ToV guarantees that users will perceive the information better, since they better understand how the product works. 

Moreover, if your brand speaks the same language as its TA, some sort of emotional connection and bond establishes between them, as if they were friends. That’s a significant advantage over competition products. 

Promote the platform

Pick the promotion channels and plan the works

  1. Think of the concept
  • Pick the promotion channels 

Based on the custdev data make a list of the most potentially effective sites for placing advertising messages.
For example, your clients are movie geeks that want to save money on online cinema subscriptions. From the interview we learnt that they visit platforms with vouchers and promo codes often. This is where we will place our ads.

Set up the channels in the single brand identity. Use the same logo and an informative profile background. Let your designer make an entire design system, select color solutions for visual content. 

  • Make your advertisement hypotheses (objectives) to test. Make them SMART 

For example, Facebook users will download the app 100 times within 2 weeks. 

  • Calculate the overall costs

Use forecasting services for digital advertisements. When planning a campaign in Google ads, Facebook ads, Snapchat ads, TikTok ads, Twitter ads you’ll see how many impressions (how many unique users will see the ad) and clicks you’ll get for your budget.

Agree on promotional posts with authors/admins personally. Consider the fees and taxes. 

2. Plan content creation works: make briefs for copywriters, designers, photographers, etc. 

Create the content

Use the information you gained from custdev to determine the best content type for your TA. Write copies, record and edit the video, make pictures, and adjust them to your specific placement sites.

If the campaign includes any social media marketing activity, make up a content-plan, a list of posts topics.

Launch a test campaign

Commence promoting the product and testing hypotheses. We recommend launching a test campaign for 2 weeks — this must be enough. Keep track of the changes. If you see that one of the hypotheses doesn’t prove itself and you don’t get the anticipated result, amend the budget allocation, channels selection, etc. 

Launch the campaign in the most effective channels

Draw the conclusions to the test campaign. Select the most effective ads placement sites. Plan the budget and the results based on the test campaign data. “With the $ X budget I’ll get Y new users, N demo requests”. Use this to better plan and calculate ROI of the project in the long-term perspective. 

Final words

Answering the question from this article intro — you know better when your product is ready. What we can say for sure is that there’s always room for improvement in the post MVP phase. And once you have your MVP and have done all the necessary adjustments, you’ll know the direction. To give you an idea, check out what we do next with our clients in CommunityHill, Janson Media, and AppyBee cases.