In this age of mobiles, everyone is using a smartphone or tablet device. As a result, more and more developers are actively pursuing mobile development. No matter which platform you use — be it iOS or Android — you will find a plethora of mobile apps serving a multitude of purposes.
Amidst such crowded mobile-first scenario, what do you do when the temptation to have your own mobile app strikes? What if you really are planning to create a mobile app for your website or business, but are unsure if it will actually be useful for your clients? If this is the case, you have come to the right place. In this article, I shall try to assess the pros and cons of having a mobile app for your website or online business.
Before going any further, though, allow me to clarify what I mean by “online business”: a website, an online news magazine, a small- to medium- enterprise that relies on the internet (or has a user base that actively uses the internet and mobile devices), and so on. If you can associate or identify yourself with any of these or similar descriptions, then yes, we are talking about you!
“To Mobile App” or “Not To Mobile App”
With each passing day, more and more internet users are migrating to mobile devices. Even if desktops are someone’s primary working device, there are good chances that he or she often turns to a mobile or tablet for casual browsing of the internet. Naturally, having a smartphone app for yourself seems to be a wonderful decision. I mean, c’mon, even we have our own mobile app!
However, all said and done, is it really worth the effort? Will it not make sense to opt for a solution that requires less efforts and time? Requirements and payoffs apart, does an app actually help your audience?
Won’t a Mobile-Ready Website Suffice?
This is the first question you should ask yourself when planning a mobile app. It is common knowledge by now that responsive or adaptive design can go a long way in helping you have a mobile-friendly website. If you need more advanced options, you can even have a separate mobile version of your website, or opt for special tools for this purpose, such as WPtouch for WordPress websites (all major CMSs also offer mobile apps and relevant solutions).
Image Source: Bring Your Own Device via Shutterstock.
The outright advantages that a mobile-ready website has over other alternatives include lesser cost, as well as universal appeal. Your regular users may be compelled to download your app, but what about the random visitors? A mobile-ready website can serve both sects of users in a reliable manner. Plus, if you have an iOS app, your users with Android or Windows Mobile devices will be left out, and vice-versa. On the other hand, a mobile-friendly website can work well irrespective of the platform.
Also, unless your app gets featured by Apple or Google Play, you will have to walk the extra mile and promote it yourself. Having a loyal user base and active social media channels do come in handy, though for a small- to medium-sized enterprise, the mobile app does not really need 5 million downloads. The only catch is that if you want your mobile app to be a success, it will have to be downloaded by the users, thereby requiring you to work on the marketing and promotion front as well.
Advantages of Having a Mobile App
All said and done, mobile apps come with numerous additional benefits of their own. A website, no matter if it is mobile-ready or not, has its own limitations. You can send push notifications and regular updates to your clients using an app, not a website. Similarly, if your goal is to encourage the users to access your content more often, an app might be an easier bet. After all, being present on the user’s phone in the form of an application icon on the desktop is better than doing so as a bookmark in the phone browser, right?
However, the most decisive numbers that show the usefulness of mobile apps are provided by comScore — “82 percent of the time spent with mobile media happens via apps”. Need I say more?
Furthermore, with the ever rising popularity of mobile devices, building a mobile app is no longer rocket science. You can check out concepts such as Mobiloud that can help you transform your WordPress website into a mobile app, or if your requirements are rather basic, even take a look at ready-to-go solutions such as TheAppBuilder and Andromo.
Image Source: Bring Your Own Device via Shutterstock.
So, Should You Go For an App?
It all boils down to your needs, actually. If you have a true use for an app: by all means, create one. However, if your app will be more of an informational entity than anything else, just a mobile-friendly website will suffice too. The reasons to opt for a mobile app are plenty: it can be a simple attempt to stay up with the competition, or an effort to reach out to newer customers and attract better sales. In any case, before you set your mind to building a mobile app, make sure you evaluate what value the app can bring to your business.
Thus, doing your home-work before going ahead with a mobile app becomes essential. A simple question is worth asking: will it be possible for your business to justify the extra expenses and requirements of a mobile app, or will a mobile-friendly website be sufficient?
Lastly, it must be pointed out that in order to be actually successful, a mobile app does not really need to bring in revenue (as a matter of fact, direct revenue for a mobile app can be had only via advertising or selling the app itself — neither of which seems to benefit your business in the long run). If your mobile app makes life easier for your users and at the same time earns your business a good reputation, consider its mission to be successful.
Does your online business or website have a mobile app of its own? Are you planning to build one anytime soon? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below!