Do you really need to develop an app?

do_i_need_an_app.jpgYou can download apps to do your banking, book a taxi, chat with your overseas friends for free, stop you from drunk dialing and even superimpose a moustache on your face. In short, there’s an app for everything in your life.

But just because there are millions of apps out there, it doesn’t necessarily mean you also need one for your organisation.

With 80 to 90 percent of all downloaded apps used once, then deleted, the question begs, do you really need an app?

We've put together some key tips to help you decide if creating an app is the best next step in your mobile strategy.

Why the love for apps? 

It’s true. Users love apps. Studies have found native frameworks (what programmers refer to as an app) more convenient, faster and easier to browse. However, this only applies when the app functions seamlessly for the user.

Apps are also a favourite for some companies because they can access hardware on the user’s device. This includes their GPS coordinates, camera, microphone and their contacts. Accessing this information is a lot easier through an app framework in comparison to a mobile responsive website.

Do I need an app?

There are two simple ways to tell if your organisation and its associated products would benefit from an app.

Experienced programer James Hall breaks down the necessity into two clear criterias.

  • Is your product a utility?

If the main function of your product experience is to deliver real-time information, then an app is a good option. Uber and Twitter are both successful examples of apps that deliver real time information to the user quickly.  

  • Do you have hardware needs?

If your product needs to use the user’s location, camera or even microphone, apps offer a framework that’s much easier to access these functionalities.

Social media app Snapchat gains access to the user’s hardware to increase the user's experience. These features would not run as well if they used a mobile responsive website. 

Still think you need an app?

There are a few more important criteria to cover if you think your mobile strategy should include the introduction of an app.

Ask yourself: Am I solving an actual problem for my customers? You really have to think about this question. Superimposing a moustache on your face for Movember might be fun, but what long-term problem does this solve for your user?

Think long and hard about this question before committing to developing an app.

Functionality - It’s important for your app to actually bring more value to the user than a mobile responsive site would.

For example, if you’re the head of marketing at a popular restaurant chain, it’s not necessary for you to develop an entire app to take bookings. A well developed mobile responsive site will suffice.

If a mobile responsive site can deliver you what you need, go for that and save your budget.

Compatibility - Speaking of budgets, you have to develop your app for specific operating systems. That’s right, one for Apple users and one for Android users. Be sure an app is what you need as compatibility will chew up a decent chunk of your budget.

Maintenance - Like all software, apps require constant maintenance. As operating systems advance and security threats rise, you’ll need to update your app. As you’re bound to be forced to do a major update at least once a year don’t forget to consider this cost in your budget. 

Responsibility - Apps can be brilliant, but if you onboard one and it’s a big hit, it doesn’t mean you can neglect your website. With search engines constantly updating their algorithms, you still have the responsibility to keep your website mobile responsive. If you don’t, you risk your website appearing lower in the search rankings.

I don’t fit in the criteria, now what?

Focus your efforts on other areas of your mobile strategy. Use the budget to create a well thought out user experience strategy and upgrade the mobile responsiveness of your current website.

CeBIT Australia Digital Marketing Report