Mobile is the new frontier and every business needs to have a mobile app, right? Well, the truth is that mobile app development isn’t the right choice for most small businesses. I just read an article on one of my favorite blogs that reminded me of the conversation I had with a client recently. My client approached me about developing a mobile app for their business. Everyone is doing it, right?
Well, before you rush ahead with your mobile app plans, here are a few things you should consider:
1. Your Customers
- Who are your customers and what type of interaction would they expect from a business like yours via their smartphone?
- Is demand for some capabilities driving your need for an app?
If the only thing a customer needs to do when accessing your business via a mobile phone is to call or get directions, then there’s really no need for a mobile app. You might be better off providing a mobile-optimized version of your website.
2. Your Business.
- How will having a mobile app fit into your broader business strategy?
- Will it be used to service existing customers?
- Will it provide a unique interactive experience to increase customer engagement with your business’ product or service?
Hopefully you’re not banking on the huge potential for exposure to new customers in the app markets. The old adage of “if you build it they will come” doesn’t hold true here. Approximately 80 percent of apps get less than 1000 downloads. Make sure that whatever you develop is for a customer base that exists, and that you can effectively target and service with your app.
3. Your Budget.
- What features do you want to have in your app?
- Will all the functionality reside on the phone, or will it require access to a central server for data storage or other functions?
- What platform are you going to target…iPhone, Android, Windows, or any combination?
- How much can you spend towards marketing the app to get people to use it?
- How will it generate revenue…will people pay to download, or pay to use it?
There are many factors involved in developing mobile apps. The answer to each of these questions will drive your development costs. The cost to develop a simple app could suddenly increase several fold if you decide on developing a version for Android, iPhone and Windows phones. Oh, and don’t forget to factor in marketing costs and ongoing costs for maintenance updates that may be required for the app to continue to work with newer devices.
As you consider the prospects of developing a mobile app for your business, make the decision using the same logic that you would use to decide on any other investment. Consider your customers, your business strategy, and your budget. In most cases, small businesses are better off improving the overall capabilities offered via their website, and then developing a mobile-optimized interface for their customers.