We all know trends can be dangerous and potentially costly, if you blindly follow them. The same can be said for keeping pace with the latest tech or digital innovations. There must always be a rationale. Mobile apps, while now mainstream, can provide invaluable solutions to a business. Assessing the ‘true mobile need’ of your business is crucial though, as in some cases a web application may be all that’s required. Or, in some cases, a hybrid combining the best elements a mobile or web application can deliver is the optimum solution.
So how do you decide if you’re actually in the market for a mobile app? It’s important to understand the value proposition of apps. Essentially they are consumption tools not creation tools. One simple question you should consider before you begin any app journey is if the app is a money making or marketing tool? If the project or objective you have in mind is a brand building exercise, then a mobile app could be the perfect solution as they are phenomenal online and offline marketing tools. Unlike a web browser, a mobile app will provide instant access to your product or service. The speed of accessing a mobile app is also a significant draw, as is the fact that if your user is offline they can still access an app.
When we work with clients that are looking to create a mobile app we focus on identifying the target market, where they are and what the client wants them to do. If you’re targeting a younger audience then mobiles are key, as this demographic is less likely to access a desktop computer but regularly uses a mobile handset. If your audience is broader, then you need to think about location. Where are your customers? If they are largely based indoors then a website may be the most effective option, but if they are regularly on the move then a mobile app would be a more viable tool. You then need to consider what you want the user to achieve in any given session. Is there a need to send them notifications and do you need to incorporate messaging capability? If the answer is yes, then the need for a mobile app becomes even stronger.
Once a real commercial need for mobile app development has been established we then begin to rationalise the wider implications of the project. What does this mean? Well, we determine if Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS operating system is best placed to host your app. If you're targeting a public audience and want to reach as many users as possible, then we'll look to develop for both iOS and Android, and potentially other native platforms such as Tizen, MacOS and Samsung TV depending on what you want your users to achieve. If you’re a large business that supplies its employees with a certain make or model of handset such as a mid-range Android device, it may be more cost effective to target that specifically. We also consider if the project will require specialist capability or the ability to link to proprietary hardware such as a device the app needs to talk to, namely bluetooth or Wifi. Similarly, we consider if there’s existing infrastructure the app can access. Where and how will the app be launched is relevant too; will it be distributed via the App Store and Google or internally as a non public entity? All of these questions determine the best possible solution.
If you’re still evaluating the need to choose mobile over web then consider what else a mobile app can offer your business that you won’t find on a website. If you have a need to harness GPS technology, cameras or fingerprint scanners, then these are features you won’t find on a standard web application. Mobile apps can also use augmented and virtual reality and 3D rendering to build highly interactive and enhanced experiences for the user, but should be carefully considered at the early stages of any specification as it can have an impact upon budget.
It’s also crucial to question whether a mobile or tablet based app is best, as they can deliver massively different outputs as a result of screen size. If it’s an educational tool for younger children who prefer tablets to view content more easily, or designed for sales representatives working in the field using a tablet to display products to customers, then a tablet would be preferable. Finally, before investing in a mobile app or any new software or application for your business you should always take into account future proofing and the implications of supporting, updating and maintaining the technology.
We’re very focused on furnishing our clients with honest and straight talking advice, which sometimes means that we advise against making investments in applications that aren’t going to add value or deliver. Mobile apps offer vast benefits to many businesses, but it’s essential to work with an expert provider to challenge the actual tangible results an app would add to your business before enhancing your digital assets.
27th March 2019