I Have a Website, Now I Need a Free Phone App for My Customers
There was a time when everyone who had a business thought they needed a website. (Spoiler: most do.) Then, businesses with websites (and even a few that didn’t) thought they needed a mobile app. That led to an explosion of mobile apps – some great, and some not-so-great. Maybe you’ve decided your business needs to offer a free phone app in addition to your website. How do you decide if a mobile app is right for your business? Ask yourself these five questions:
1. Is there something special your app will do that your website can’t?
Standard websites are capable of more than ever before. As Chrome and Safari browsers advance on Android and iPhone devices, the need for a dedicated app is slipping away. There are still things that only an app can do, though. Push notifications to send your customers alerts are one of those features. Location awareness is another one. If you need your users’ location or send them push notifications, you’ll have to do that with an app.
2. Would your customers use your app?
Whatever your app does, it should bring convenience and help to your customers. An app needs to provide quick and easy information, updates, or insider information if you want people to use it. If your app delivers the same experience as your website or it’s hard to navigate, people will pass your app by.
3. Is the free app its own entity or is it there to support your business?
There aren’t a lot of reasons to use the Starbucks app if you aren’t looking for a coffee shop or paying for your latte. On the other hand, Evernote as an app (and cloud-based note software) rakes in 200 million users using their free app. How you (and your customer) will use the app is very important. If your business is the app (like Evernote), you have a completely different set of needs and expectations than the restaurant that needs a loyalty app. Make that clear to your developer early on, and that will help them integrate the app into your business plan.
4. How will you update and maintain your phone app?
There are plenty of freelancers who can make a mobile app for you. But what happens when your freelancer moves out of town or otherwise becomes unavailable to you? (It happens!) Updating the operating system or adding new features to your app means that someone will have to trigger those changes and updates. How will you do that if you can’t contact your freelance app developer? A web-based app is much easier to update because you don’t have to go through the app store approval process, but it has other limitations. Will you be pushing content to your app daily, weekly, or monthly? Who will be responsible for updates? You can designate someone on your staff to do this, or work with your developer to make these changes. Hiring an established company to do your app development is insurance that they’ll continue to keep your app free from software vulnerabilities, trigger OS updates, and initiate other changes that need to be made.
5. Is your business doing ok without an app?
This is a tough question. If your business isn’t doing well, an app won’t save it. If your business is booming and you’ve had numerous customers say, “Why don’t you do this with an app?” then you need to make a mobile app yesterday. If there is a specific channel of your business that would benefit from an app, or if you could automate some things you are already doing with an app, then continue onward. Even if you’re offering your app for free to your customers, someone still has to pay for its development, and that someone will be you. An app can be expensive, and you’ll need the money up front to fund it. Many apps easily pay for themselves in productivity or marketing, but they all need that extra boost from the budget at the beginning.
Don’t waste good money on a bad app.
Don’t spend money on developing an app and then discover it isn’t what your business needs. Answering the questions above will help guide you in making a decision.
We love to make cool apps and we love to make cool websites. You can see that we put a lot of thought into both. Each of our customers has different needs, however. While we make all of our websites responsive so that they look great on phones, some companies have extra needs that they just can’t get from a website. If you want to further explore building an app, or if you have more questions, let’s talk about your goals as a business to see what gives you the best fit.