FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUILDING A MOBILE APP FOR YOUR BUSINESS
These days it seems like everyone has a custom mobile App for their business. Even the one-man barbershop I go to has an App custom built for him by a customer who happened to be a programmer!
We have had our fair share of mobile Apps projects for clients of all sizes over the last few years. However, before you spend your hard-earned budget on custom mobile Apps, here are a few things to consider:
Depending on what you want to achieve with the App, there might already be SaaS vendors out there who can provide a turnkey mobile App solution for a low monthly cost. Want an App to track “coffee stamps” to reward your loyal customers? There’s a Stamp Me platform you can sign up for just for that. Want an App for your customers to schedule an appointment with you? There’s SimplyBook service for that as well. Google around for what you want to achieve and there’s likely an existing solution you can purchase.
Multiple Platform Support:
Is mobile App alone sufficient? Would your customers be expecting the same digital experience on their desktop or mobile web browsers? And depending on your budget, you may want to have different user interface between desktop and mobile for the optimal experience.
Another key consideration is also which iOS/Android and browser versions would you need to support your customer base. This information could be derived from web analytics data on your existing website or application. Typically, adding more versions to support would mean increased budget for development and maintenance down the road. There are more devices and software combinations to develop and test against, and as Apple sunsets your ability to publish an older version of your App, you are forced to update it against the newest development tools. Best thing to do here is to be clear about who your target customers are, what technology they use and how best to target their needs.
The App you see is most likely supported by some servers that sit somewhere on the Internet. For example, if you built a field automation App for your workforce, you’d likely need servers storing data and crunching information to dispatch and manage your workforce. These services are what we call server code and they can usually be hosted on a cloud hosting platform such as Amazon Web Services or Heroku. We usually determine where to host based on the expected workload required and its scalability requirements. We usually advice small businesses to minimize cost by hosting on a platform such as Heroku to minimize monthly operational overhead.
Just like the iOS you installed on your iPhone or the Windows software you installed on your PC, there will always be issues and updates required to fix those issues. Similarly, the mobile App you just launched will have bugs. Most of the initial bugs would likely be code issues within the App, while others might not be uncovered until long after it’s been on the market. The reason is that Apps are becoming more and more complex. It depends on multiple 3rd party software libraries and the underlying operating systems. Any changes to these external dependencies could break your App. Make sure you allocate budget for this longer-term maintenance and work with your developer on how best to maintain the system.
Finally, if there is content on the App, your staff will need to dedicate time to refresh the content. Otherwise, your App may look stale and lose customer engagement. We would typically include a user-friendly content management system as part of the build so that clients can easily update the content themselves and push it to both mobile App and their websites.
As you can see, there’s a number of things to consider before developing your App. It can seem daunting but feel free to reach out to us and we can help you discover the best way to achieve what you need.
Last I heard, my barber’s App stopped working the other day and he doesn’t even know what happened or where to find the guy who used to code in his Parent’s basement.