In early 2016, mobile Internet traffic started beating desktop traffic. At the end of last year, experts were forecasting that 75% of Internet traffic in 2017 would be mobile. As a business, there are two strategies to address the growth of mobile traffic.
One: ensure that your website is mobile-friendly.
Two: develop a mobile app.
Of course, some businesses choose to do both. But developing a mobile app for your business is a major undertaking, not to mention an expensive one. Here are four things to consider to help answer the question: does your business need a mobile app?
Would your app do something your website can’t?
How many times have you downloaded a businesses app only to realise it’s the same experience of said businesses website? If your business develops an app, it should offer some kind of unique functionality that your website doesn’t. Phones have all kinds of neat things like cameras, accelerometers, GPS, and more, that apps can utilize. And keep in mind that phones are linked to e-payment methods, email addresses, and of course, phone numbers. If the experience you’re thinking of requires stuff like that, start looking into developing an app. Otherwise, it might be best to stick with a mobile-friendly site.
Are you prepared for cross-platform development?
Let’s say that you’ve spoken to an app developer and received a quote: $10,000 for a basic app. Now, are you prepared to see that figure multiplied so that your app is available on both iOS and Android? And other possible platforms like Windows Phone or Blackberry OS? Unless your customers are very concentrated on one platform, you’ll have to figure out cross-platform functionality or a plan to roll-out your app across multiple platforms over time.
Are you prepared for updates?
Building an app isn’t a one-time expense. As platforms get updated and security evolves, your app will need to be updated too. Your app will need to be built to accommodate code adjustments for updates. Code that isn’t built to accommodate adjustments is called one-time code and is doomed to failure. As you can imagine, rebuilding code is even more expensive than building code that can be updated. And those are just updates inherent to having an app. If you want to add functionality or fix bugs, you will, of course, need to update. And all this costs time and money.
Is your app idea unique?
It’s worth searching the app store for apps that sound like they might be similar to your idea. For one thing, this will give you an idea of what’s out there and what hasn’t been done yet. Alternatively, you may realise that another company has an app or service that you can join. For example, a small pizza shop may sign up with Foodora or DoorDash instead of doing the expensive job of developing their own app. A larger chain may seek to duplicate or improve on what’s great about those apps.
The Bottom Line
Having an app for your business can be a great thing and, especially in the case of a small business, can really have that ‘wow’ factor. But an app is an expensive thing to develop and maintain. When you’re asking if your business needs a mobile app, you should first ask: “What will my mobile app do that my mobile-optimised website can’t?” If you find yourself struggling to answer, maybe just stick with your mobile-optimised website.