Want to Build a Mobile App? Ask These 5 Essential Questions First
Curt Raffi, VP Mobile Engagement and Apps at Endurance Shares
If you have a great idea for an innovative mobile app, or you're set on building one to integrate into your business, take a pause and ask yourself these 5 questions that'll make sure you're building an app for the right reasons, and help you determine it'll stand a chance of succeeding.
It’s clear that mobile has become an extremely valuable tool for influencing purchase decisions, which means now, more than ever, it’s important that small businesses have skin in the game to compete with big businesses for customer attention.
The 2015 US Mobile App Report found that over the past two years, digital media usage has grown 49%, with mobile apps experiencing impressive growth at 90%. Yet, over 78% of US small businesses still do not have a mobile solution or app, according to a recent survey by Endurance International Group, Inc.
Google’s recent algorithm change to rank mobile-friendly websites higher than those that are not, illustrates the magnitude of the mobile revolution. It’s imperative that small businesses have a website that renders well on smartphones and tablets, in order to rank higher and get found faster in search results.
These changes from Google have already made a significant impact on web search.
A report from Adobe Systems found that relative to mobile-friendly sites, traffic to non-mobile-friendly websites from Google mobile searches fell 12% in the two months after the changes took effect April 21.
So, the industry—and your customers—are going full speed ahead on mobile devices.
But what’s best for your small business? It’s important to understand the tools and type of presence that will provide the best return on your investment.
Apps are a popular route, but some businesses opt to take this course without weighing all of their options or understanding the substantial commitment required to maintain an app. It’s important to build a mobile plan that fits into your budget and will help your business grow.
If you choose to go the app route, ask yourself these 5 questions to help determine if it’s the right choice for your business’ needs:
1. What do I want the app to do?
Is it primarily for brand awareness, or do you want your app to fulfill a specific function? Choosing the type of app you need depends on two things: the goal of the app and how people use a phone in relation to your business’ offerings. With restaurants, for instance, people use their phone to view menus, make reservations, or call in orders, so your app should support those functions.
2. Who will develop it?
Are you going to hire a freelance developer, an agency, or go the DIY route? Understand the trade-off between time and financial resources that will need to be invested toward each of these options.
3. Can I afford it?
Today, a basic app can cost between $2,000 and $5,000, while an elaborate native app with advanced functionality can easily cost more than $10,000! In addition to the initial launch costs, the app needs to be regularly maintained and updated. Support costs include bug fixes and software revisions, which can cost about $150 per hour and require an app update as well as resubmission for approval in the app marketplace. Additional pricing information can be found at Tapp.com.
4. Do I have time to maintain it?
Do you have time to create fresh content, new functionality, and also submit updates to the app store? Keep in mind that Apple requires a waiting period (typically one week), every time you submit an update.
5. How do I integrate it into my business?
How do you want the app to integrate with your existing online presence?
If you want to sell products and services, or book appointments and reservations through your app, you will need to ensure that all platforms run seamlessly with one another.
Even though it’s not always necessary to build a native app out of the gate, it’s still important – now more than ever – to build brand awareness for your business with a mobile presence. Today, it’s possible to replicate the look and feel of a native app through other technologies. A mobile-optimized website can be a great alternative for businesses that don’t necessarily need all the functions of a mobile app, but want to be easily accessible to customers.
There are many options, so use these guidelines to help plan your next mobile move. While we can all agree that your business needs to be mobile-friendly, make sure you weigh all of the options to choose the best mobile solution for your small business.