Creating an app is for companies today what having a website was in the early 2000s. Not quite every company has one yet, but it’s seeming more like a necessity every day. Roughly half of businesses with more than 50 employees have their own apps. But smaller businesses are getting in on the game, too. The tech blog Pocket Cake reports that “nearly 50% of small businesses indicate they plan to have a mobile app within the next few years.” Are you among them?
You may be considering designing an app for your company. It could be a great way to stay ahead of the competition and provide a better customer experience. However, building an app takes time and money, not to mention a solid idea. What will your app do, and how will you build it? Read on for some of the things you should keep in mind.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
Before you even dive into app development, take a look at your website. Entrepreneur reports that people spend about five hours a day on a mobile device. Ninety-two percent of that time is spent using apps. But for an app to be successful, your website needs a mobile-friendly design. If visitors to your website are annoyed with the lack of mobile features to your site, they’ll be unlikely to convert. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, start there.
On a related subject, don’t make your app simply a carbon copy of your website. Give it unique features and a specific function.
Do Your Competitors Have Apps?
Take a look at what your competitors are doing. Spend some time in the app stores of the different mobile platforms to see what people are saying about your competitors’ apps. Use the weaknesses that people point out in their reviews to your advantage and work on fixing them if you choose to design your app.
Do You Offer a Loyalty Program?
An app is a great way for customers to interact with a loyalty program. You can send clients push notifications to let them know about any discounts, incentives, or other perks you’re offering at the moment. And since most people know where their mobile devices are at all times, they no longer have to worry about losing loyalty cards. You might gamify the experience in some way, letting the app collect points that they can redeem for your products or services.
Where Do You Get New Business?
Think about the ways that new customers find you. If you get more phone calls, an app may be the way to go. But, if you get more business from your website, it may not be necessary to have your own app to generate new business. You don’t want to alienate a loyal part of your base, so don’t neglect where most of your new business comes from for something new and shiny. However, if you get feedback that reaching you takes too long or people cannot quickly get answers from your site, an app might be the solution.
How Can You Monetize Your App?
If you do decide to build and develop your own app, you’re going to want it to be a way for your business to make money. Do you have plans for sponsored content? Do you want premium subscribers to gain access to subscriber-only information? Any way you can get money from the app is going to help your business in the long run.
Don’t Skimp on Cost When Creating an App
The cost to build and maintain your app depends on the features of your app. If you want an intricately designed app, prepare to pay more for the development. That said, don’t cut corners on cost. If an app is sloppy, users won’t keep the app and will give it negative reviews. Nothing hurts a new app than negative reviews.
Consider In-House Design vs. a Freelancer
When it comes to designing your app, you need someone who knows what they’re doing. You can have someone in your company design the app for you and handle all the necessary updates and maintenance on the app. And because they already work for the company, they should fully understand the company’s mission and brand.
You also have the option for hiring a freelancer to design your app. A freelancer may provide more experience and skills than someone in your company. Whichever route you take, make sure it’s someone who can help with the app in the future. After all, once you launch your app, you still have work to do. Apps need constant monitoring and updates to keep them running at peak performance.
Don’t Sacrifice Security
Security is an integral part of today’s technological world. You can sacrifice a few features of your app here and there, but security should not be one of them. Secure features are necessary on any app, but those that handle credit cards and other personal information need high-end security measures to avoid data falling into the wrong hands.
Implement a Beta Program
A beta program lets you test your app and get feedback before it goes public. Beta testers get first-use of your app and any updates that you provide. They give you honest feedback about the app and let you know of any changes they recommend. If beta testers notice you listened to their feedback, and it worked for the better, they’ll likely review the app. It can get you some five-star reviews right off the bat.
You have a lot to keep in mind when deciding whether to build an app for your business. If you aren’t entirely ready to develop an app but your website needs a lot of work, that’s a great place to start. Think carefully about what you want to achieve and how to get there.