If you wanted to run a business a few decades ago, you needed a brick-and-mortar office.
Post-millennium, it became imperative for businesses to have a website. Fast-forward to the present, and you’ll find an increasing number of companies launching mobile apps. In fact, some companies work mainly from their mobile app!
The App Advantage
According to a report on Gallup, 52 percent of smartphone users in the U.S. check their device more than once in an hour. Of the remaining 48 percent, 20 percent check their phone about once in an hour. Unlike a laptop or PC, a mobile device is easily accessible. As well as being large and often impractical, the former requires a few steps before you can access your files: switching on the monitor, logging on, waiting for the system to load, etc.
Furthermore, a mobile device’s click-of-a-button accessibility is like a “come get me” plea to your marketing department. Since mobile devices are used so often and are usually with the owner throughout the day, your mobile app, and in turn, your brand, will constantly be within touching distance.
Another advantage of having a mobile app is that you can stay ahead of the game if your competitors are yet to utilize the platform. This is especially true when you’re competing with established companies. For example, Mailbox was an app aimed to simplify email for mobile devices. Although the app has come to an end, it was able to monopolize web-based email companies such as Hotmail and Gmail through a mobile app alone.
If you want to stay ahead of your competitors and remain at the forefront of new technologies, then you’ll want to consider developing a mobile app for your business. However, before you do that, there are a few things to consider.
Know Your Audience
Thoroughly research your market and see which platform your audience prefers: web or mobile? You can conduct quick, web-based research on platforms like Quora or Reddit or even send out a survey to your list asking them about their app usage and preferences.
If your target audience is mainly young people, especially Gen Y and the upcoming Gen Z, developing a mobile app may be the way forward. However, if your products and services target 50-70-year-olds, it’s best to stick with the web, as they’re probably more comfortable and familiar with that platform.
If your market research shows that your target audience is active on both mobile and web platforms, then you should definitely begin with a website. Launch a responsive, mobile-friendly website first; if you go straight into an iOS or Android app, you could end up losing a lot of customers and sales.
iOS or Android?
If your market research shows that your audience prefers using mobile apps, you have to then decide which platform to develop: iOS or Android. Bear in mind that there are more Android users in Asia compared to iOS, more iOS users in North America compared to Android, and a near-tie in Europe, according to a report by Developer Economics.
Although the Android market is generally larger, iOS manages to get 85 percent more revenue for app creators. Yet, while the income potential is much more from iOS users, you’ll get a lot more exposure through an Android app. Therefore, your decision should come as a result of research on your own market. You should also check out the specs on both Android and iOS platforms to see which one will save you the most money and time.
Is Location Important?
The taxi service Uber uses a mobile app only because it’s absolutely necessary to its customers. For instance, the exact location of a customer is important to direct drivers to passengers. Crew states, “Because people are most likely to carry a phone rather than a desktop computer when traveling, it made sense for Uber to build their initial product as a mobile app rather than as a website.”
If your service is solely dependent on location and requires instant information on-the-go, it’s best to develop a mobile app.
What’s Your Budget?
According to an article on Alty, the average cost of developing a fairly simple mobile app ranges from $3,000-$8,000. The more sophisticated apps can cost between $35,000-$100,000. On the other hand, web development costs are slightly higher at around $7,000-$150,000.
When you decide to develop a mobile app, have a look at various app builders on the market and choose the most viable one for your budget. You could even create a prototype app without writing any code, so you can have an idea of what your mobile app would look like. Here are two products to help you create a prototype app:
1. POP: You can sketch your app on paper then take pictures of it using this free app. The sketches can include tiny, clickable spots for developers to use.
2. Marvel: Create clickable prototypes from your already-created designs from image editing tools such as Adobe Photoshop. You can share your Marvel app link with your staff and customers to get feedback and make adjustments accordingly.
It’s All about Analysis
Future-proofing your company is something you have to consider when you launch. Don’t hesitate. On the flip side, you have to be smart with your numbers and time and not leap into building a mobile app without researching your target market. That should apply to every business decision you make.
For instance, if you already have a website, then you should monitor your Google Analytics. Should you see 20-30 percent traffic coming from people using mobile devices, then your decision’s made—build your mobile app! Always make a decision around your target market’s needs and habits. If your market is crying out for a mobile app, give it to them.
Keep monitoring your audience’s habits and you’ll soon find out what works and what doesn’t. Research, analyze, adjust and apply!