2014 was the year of mobile apps. There was a reported 731% rise in custom-built apps for companies in 2014, and this popular trend is now considered not just a benefit but a necessity for any business. Engaging your customers on their mobile devices has well-documented benefits, but the bad news for many companies that release mobile apps is that they’re simply not engaging their customers. As many as 90% of all mobile apps are eventually deleted.
The question you need to ask for your business is whether or not it’s ready for a mobile-first approach. Here are a few critical factors that are often overlooked. You should consider them before you decide that going mobile is really the best for you.
Be Honest With Cost
This seems obvious, but it’s all too easy to overlook costs or be too optimistic with projections. Become familiar with your platform, your advertising budget, your ability to hire professional web designers and developers, and more. For example, developing for Android is more expensive than iOS development; do you have the budget to do both, or will you be better off staying on iOS at first? Can you build your own app?
If you want to engage your users, your app needs to serve a purpose. You can’t build an app just because that’s what other people are doing and expect it to succeed. A successful campaign needs to have a clear end-game and an idea of how to get there. Do you want to increase sales with your app? Or does your app exist to retain old customers? Once you have your goals, think about whether an app is really going to be able to help you meet them, and go forward from there.
The app market is crowded, very crowded. Only 1% of all apps can really be considered financially successful, and the vast majority of apps never get downloaded by anybody. In order to stand out in this crowded, marketing your app needs to be useful for somebody and serve some clear purpose. How your app can be useful is in many ways dependent on you and your product, so develop from your strong points. Make an app that augments your product or service in some way: add new features, improve already existing features, and provide good synergy. Nobody wants an app that clutters up the app drawer and takes up valuable space and bandwidth, so don’t fall into that hole!
Create a Unique Experience
This ties in directly to making a useful app, but it’s important enough to have its own section. A useful app can still be redundant. Make sure that you app doesn’t do the exact same thing that your website does. The mobile environment is significantly different than the traditional computer’s web browser or dedicated programs. The most important thing about a mobile experience is that it is simple and clear to the user. Think about whether or not your app is trying to do something that would be better on a more traditional desktop environment. If so, be honest with that fact and choose not to force a square peg into a round hole. Mobile apps need to feel razor sharp, responsive, and intuitive. A clunky app will be left in the dirt if it’s a frustrating experience.
Can You Test It?
Make sure you’re able to dedicate some time to testing your app. If you push a buggy user experience out the door you’re destined to leave a negative impression on your target audience. They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but if your app frustrates a user (or worse, loses their data or causes crashes), they’ll remember you as an incompetent business that cost them time and peace of mind.
There’s a lot that goes into developing an app for the market. While there is no doubt that mobile apps will dominate the future of customer interaction and service delivery for a long time to come, you shouldn’t hop onto the bandwagon unless you can do it well. At best, you’ll waste valuable time and money that could have been used to create a more useful tool for your business. The mobile-first revolution is ongoing, so don’t leap before you look!