During the 1990s every business was told that it must have a website. When the concept of Web 2.0 was developed every business was told that it must have a blog. Today the most popular tech advice is to build a company app. The use of smartphones and tablets has exploded in the last five years with Android and iPhone devices competing for sales. Improvements in hardware, software and mobile Internet connectivity has resulted in a new wave of software that can help support business; mobile applications, more commonly called simply â€˜apps'.
What is an app?
An app is simply a piece of software that is installed onto a smartphone or tablet to provide a customer with an alternative way to engage with a business. Apps can be useful or just entertaining; they can work alongside a mobile website, providing additional functionality or can replace a mobile website completely.
Is a computer programmer necessary?
Traditionally, bespoke software development required a programmer to be employed throughout the entire process. It is almost impossible for a non-tech savvy organization to create an app in-house. However, the combination of the Internet and advanced software has made it possible for even small businesses to develop apps without having to hire expensive programmers.
It may seem daunting to consider creating an app but it really has never been easier. All that is required is a good idea, write up the specification and invite software developers to propose a solution.
Developing an idea
The hardest part of developing a good app for a business is to come up with a great idea. Any app obviously needs to be related to the business, be useful to customers and also provide a method of marketing new products and deals to users.
Hiring a developer
There are essentially two ways to go about hiring an app developer. Check out websites such as eLance and invite developers to make a proposal based on the specification, or use an app development company.
Because of the explosion of the app market there are now some very good software developers who specialize in apps. One of the best is Worry Free Labs, which has been named the top mobile app company. Worry Free Labs is committed to producing quality products, ensuring client satisfaction and offering excellent services.
Using an external app development company saves time, money and helps ensure a user friendly and professional looking app is produced. A general builder will get the job done, but it may not be exactly the product envisaged and the code may be far from perfect.
Software development follows a clear and logical process designed to ensure that applications and programs are developed to meet customer requirements with minimal need for modifications and rewrites.
The chosen developer will explain about multi-platform frameworks that enable the same app to be used on Android and iPhone. The additional cost of creating a mutli-platform app may be offset by the savings of only having to create one product.
The first step is to choose a programming language or framework. The app developer will choose this based on initial discussions and will probably work with the technology they are most proficient with and which will allow them to complete the task as requested.
The next step is the planning stage. For a developer this will involve taking the original idea specification and drawing up a plan on how it can be developed into a functional app. A good developer will be able to give feedback on the design specification and make suggestions that should result in a better app. This is one of the biggest advantages of hiring an app specialist; they understand user preferences and know what works and what does not.
The developer will then create a minimum viable product. This is a basic app that covers all the required specifications. Its purpose is for initial testing and approval before the final app is developed. It is at this point that the client has to make any change requests and be given the opportunity to test it thoroughly in order to ensure that all expectations have been met. Once approved the developer creates the finished product ready for distribution.
Making an app is a complex task, but with the help of an experienced developer it really is no different than building website.
Good apps can help increase brand awareness and are an effective way to connect with customers. Some of the best apps are simple, very useful and provide a service that people will use repeatedly.