Technology is moving faster than ever. It seems like just yesterday Apple launched their “There’s an App for that” ad campaign (2009) and it had every business looking for ways to hop on the new wave. Though, mobile apps can be useful to some businesses, others may discover that it’s a money pit which doesn’t help them reach their business objectives.
Over the years, we have fine tuned a way to help businesses decide whether or not they should invest in a mobile app or if a web app is better fit. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before setting up an initial meeting with your developers of choice.
Is this something that people will use everyday?
You may be tempted to say yes to this, but stay with us for a second. Think about all the apps you currently have on your phone. How many of these do you use on a daily basis. Chances are, app like email and social media top the list for daily usage, maybe a meditation app or even a podcast player. What these all have in common is that their utility is built into the tasks that have become ingrained in our daily routines.
Still on the fence? Here are some stats that will help to put things into perspective.
- 23% of people who download an app use it once and never go back.
- More than 50% of apps are deleted within a month.
- 96% are deleted in less than a year.
- 50% of people don’t ever download additional apps on their phone in the first place.
Do you have the budget to sustain continual updates?
After the initial deployment of your mobile app, you can expect to invest in updates for the weeks to months to come. For example, bugs that may have passed under the radar in the testing phase, may present a problem when your app is interacting with new users. Even if you’ve managed to get rid of all your bugs – the process continues as updates, to mobile operating systems often create new bugs that need to be fixed for your app to be remain functional.
Do you need access to the device’s functions such as GPS, Camara, Microphone, Contacts, File Upload, Calendars, etc?
The beauty of mobile apps is that they can tap into your devices functions to further enhance the user experience. For example, you grant access to your camera and microphone so you can take photos and record videos on Instagram. If the functionality of your mobile app will be require access to a user’s device to help them accomplish specific tasks, then it may be a good time to explore what a mobile application.
Does it need to work offline?
Depending on the purpose of your app, it may be critical for your users to be able to access information from the app when they don’t have internet access. For example, booking apps like AirBnb allows users to access their messages from their hosts while offline. This is important for travellers may need to check booking details while enroute to their final destination. Some mobile apps can work without an internet connection, then can sync data once the connection is reestablished
If not a mobile app then what?
You may get better value for your money skipping the mobile app and going with a mobile friendly website, or web application instead. Here are some benefits of using a web app or a mobile friendly website.
Investing in a mobile friendly website will save you money because your financial resources will be spent on developing one platform versus two. Mobile friendly websites or web applications also require less maintenance after deployment.
The content is more shareable
A mobile app makes it difficult to share content outside of the app with users who don’t already have the app installed.
You don’t need users to install it.
The stats show that 50% of people don’t download additional apps to their phones. Which means requiring users to download an app presents an additional barrier to entry for them to do business with you.
While a mobile app may seem like the next step for your business, remember to ask yourself if it’s really what’s BEST for your business. Save yourself the disappointment of investing your money, effort and time into a mobile application your customers don’t want. So the next time you say to yourself, “I need an app”, carefully reflect on your needs and make an informed decision. Will it be used everyday? Do you have the budget? What kind of access will you need? Will it need to work offline? You might find that taking the time to answer these questions will not only be best for your business – but for your pocket.