Does your business need a mobile app?

By Kathleen Aoki | January 30, 2014

Apps Down Under are experiencing phenomenal growth, with an average of 33 downloads per smart phone in Australia, beating the global average by seven apps. Add to this impressive statistic the fact that four out of every five minutes users spend on their smart phone is with apps, and you realise just how popular apps are today.

The pros and cons of apps

As popular as they may be, however, building an app for your business does not necessarily come with a guarantee of success. Indeed, with the flood of apps on the market today, you need to carefully consider your goals for building one: is it something your customers actually need and will use? Is it unique and not duplicating the functionality of another app? If not, it may not be worth the time and money.

On the other hand, some good reasons to build an app include:

  • The app will improve your level of customer service.
  • The app will make it significantly easier for customers to access and use services and make purchases from their mobile phones.
  • The app is genuinely useful and needed.

For example, let's say you run a chain of pizzerias with a loyal following of customers. An app that can facilitate ordering with the touch of a button might just be the next best thing to sliced bread (or pizza in this case). With the ever-increasing number of people using their smart phones to research products and buy on the run, apps that simplify the buying process can help entice users to use your business or service more often.

The cost of building your own app

In general, apps don’t come cheap. The average cost of building an app can span anything from $25,000 to $100,000, although it can also be much less or even more, depending on the functionality you're after. In general, more complexity will translate into higher cost, and vice versa. The good news is, there are many different avenues to building an app, and it's worth asking around before you commit to anything. It might cost less than you think.

It's also important to bear in mind that apps only work for the vendor-specific devices they are designed for, so you need to know beforehand what demographic you're trying to reach. Alternatively, you can develop the same app for multiple devices, although this will increase your costs.

Apps or mobile-enabled websites?

If you're reading this and not feeling quite ready to commit to building your own app, you still have the option of creating a mobile-friendly website. In fact, if you don't already have one, you should. Mobile sites are designed to load faster and render images and text correctly, so you don't lose customers due to a clunky, annoying interface that works fine from a laptop but not a small screen. Mobile sites also work from any device and cost less to create and maintain than your standard app.

So, when deciding if an app is right for your business, you should consider how the app will improve upon your existing website and services, how much it will cost and what the competition offers. If at the end of day you decide that your app really will add something in the way of functionality, novelty, and usefulness, then by all means, app away.


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