The first question flying out of most prospective clients' mouths is - â€˜'If I already have a mobile-friendly website, does my business need a mobile app?" And our response to that one is always constant - "What is the real purpose of your website?"
The irony is, many business owners and entrepreneurs, so full of confidence when it comes to most other aspects of their business, usually tend to struggle with this question. However, understanding what qualifies as success for your client is the most decisive factor in allowing you as an app development company to fulfill their specific needs and desires through said app. If we fail to understand and address their needs, then obviously they will not be satisfied with the end result. And that is why I always like to provide them with a reality check before we the App development discussion goes any further.
So whether you're on our side or the opposite side of this â€˜why do I need an app if I already have a mobile-friendly website' debate, then this is the line of questioning that you need to address to find an appropriate solution.
Does your target demographic use smartphones?
A mobile app should bring businesses closer to their target audience. You must get into the mind of your market before thinking of developing an app, just so that you can understand device usage among this target audience and build your app around this information.
Could your business benefit from having an app?
Businesses need to think of the primary goal of their business. What do they want most from an app? Whether be it quote requests, sales, bookings, memberships, subscriptions or even engagement perhaps. Then move on to the next level - how do they go about getting what they want out of the App?
Do your competitors have a mobile app?
A competitive analysis is a critical part of making a decision for, or against app development. Analyzing the competition allows you to see if your rivals have already explored the App space, and the outcome of this effort. You could then identify the gaps they have left, or on the flipside you could end up finding out that your business is in the unique position of pioneering the mobile App for that particular product or service.
Would the benefits be worth the investment cost?
If your website is already receiving a substantial amount of mobile traffic, what is the return on investment (ROI)? Do you believe creating apps for smartphone (Android and iPhone) would justify the investment when you consider your business objectives?
Even if the answer to the former is satisfactory, you, the business owner needs to be able to sustain this level of traffic in the face of competition that may already be App-driven, or could adopt an App-based approach in the future. If the answer to the latter is yes, then it seems like you have found a definitive answer.
If you are still torn between continuing with your mobile website or investing in an App, here's what an App can bring to the table over and above a mobile website
While mobile websites are very useful, and are, in fact important to have in place before taking that step into the App world, they do suffer from limitations. While they are easily accessible from across the globe, can be updated and shared easily, and do not suffer from compatibility issues like an App, they are limited in their functionality.
- Apps can be used without an internet connection
- Apps are interactive and allow for exchange of information between the business owner and the App user
- The App experience can be personalized for each user and encourages prolonged use
- Data, calculation tools, and more can be incorporated easily into an App
- A smartphone's true potential can be harnessed by integrating native functionalities such as a camera or GPS to help enhance the App's usability
- An internet connection isn't always necessary to use all Apps, although that depends on their design and purpose
- Navigating through information is generally easier thanks to interface design cues
You have reached the point where you want to commit to a dedicated App, one that will contain certain functionalities that will take your business to the next level. So what's next?
App development - The obvious next step is collaborating with an App developer to build an App that matches your needs and provides your consumers with everything they could possibly want from an App (within reason). Everything from the data provided to the design and visual element, the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI), and the mobile OS platform or platforms you want the App developed for need to be planned and executed. Here's an interesting resource on the App building process via Forbes.
App Marketing - Once your App is ready for mass consumption, you need to make sure it reaches those masses. For that, you need an App marketing strategy. This may include advertising, posts on social media and your website, texts or e-mails sent out to your customer database, and App Store Optimization (ASO). For those unfamiliar with the concept, ASO similar to search engine optimization on the website, is a concentrated effort made to improve visibility of the App on the OS' App vending space such as App Store for Apple, Google Play for Android, or Blackberry's Blackberry World. This includes a variety of processes and efforts made to get the App to rank as high as possible on both the App rankings and search result pages. Here are some insights into the world of app marketing, again, via Forbes.
If you want your mobile App venture to be successful, and one that elevates your business to new heights, then follow the suggestions above. With a little luck, your new App might just propel your business into the stratosphere.