Does your business need a mobile app?
Mobile is growing, and everybody knows it. As creatives, we get excited about exploring newer realms. As businesses, we get excited about seeing our website on our latest smart phones and tablets. Sometimes this excitement can steer you in the wrong direction, causing us to overshoot our goals.
From a business standpoint, the most important thing to consider is ROI. While it is important for a business to stay current, consideration should be given to WHY we think we need a mobile app. While mobile web traffic has been on a steady rise, most people don’t realize that it still only accounts for approximately 7% of total web traffic. The cost of a “native” app (the kind you download and install on your device) can be much higher than you may realize. The development process is very different than a typical website. An app is, after all, software, and requires many more iterations of coding, user testing, etc… to complete. Once complete, a new operating system or a new device will hit the market creating an almost endless need for maintenance and updates to the app.
So why choose to develop a mobile app? For one thing, they can be extremely user friendly. Mobile apps typically display the bread and butter of your website. Think about it this way. A website tends to be more of a “before the event” marketing piece, where all kinds of information is displayed. Everything from last year’s photos, who is involved, who the event will be profiting, etc… is at the user’s fingertips so they can get the big picture. On the other hand, a mobile app can be thought of as an “at the event” tool, where the user will probably have very specific information they are looking for. They contain simplified navigation that allows the user to see the event’s schedule, times and locations of specific happenings, where to get food and merch, or perhaps a map of the event’s venue so people can find there way around all while looking at their mobile device. Obviously, not every app falls into the “event” category, however the desires of a user will usually follow this same kind of simplification.
For those businesses looking to go mobile, a great first step seems to be a “responsive” site. Responsive refers to the website’s ability to have multiple layouts for different devices, making it easier to navigate and see the information you want whether you’re on a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Responsive design will also allow you to scale text appropriately, and leave out, or hide, information that may not be desired by your mobile demographic. A responsive site will also be considerably cheaper than a native app, allowing your business to test the waters of the mobile world, before making the investment in a native app.
One thing is definitely clear, mobile is here to stay. Taking the time to consider your options, your needs, and your budget should help you strategize the best way to enter the mobile world with minimal risk, and ultimately, a more successful product.