At the other end of many a marketing campaign, ecommerce site, and service app is a mobile device. It’s 2016, after all—mobile devices are everywhere. Some of those devices display an Apple logo, while others feature the familiar Android robot.
But as a business owner, you don't really care about that, do you?
You care about reaching out to the person holding the device. More importantly, you care about catering to their needs. This is where mobile app development enters the equation.
The way that people are using their smartphones and tablets is ever-changing—what started as a vehicle for phone calls and texts has evolved into the tool that plugs into every aspect of our lives. But there are some things that a mere informational website simply cannot do for your customers. So it comes as no surprise that a custom mobile app can fill in those gaps, whether that means offering entertaining interactive features or a full-on ecommerce experience.
But what's the best method for building an app? You may have heard of native applications or hybrid apps. The best one for your app really depends on what your customers are looking to do with that app, and the parameters of your budget and timeline.
Here are three factors to consider when developing your business's custom mobile app:
1. Do you provide customers with a service?
Uber, the ultimate service provider to many, is successful because their app integrates with whatever devices their customers use. What this means is that the app is developed to communicate with a device's native features.
Native apps (i.e. apps that are built for one operating system) like this seamlessly integrate the phone's built-in functionality like GPS, camera, and audio in order to create a fully rounded user experience. If Uber's app didn't integrate with your phone's GPS, there's no way Uber could remain at the top of its class, is there?
Developing multiple native apps for different operating systems and devices can be expensive and for many businesses, this isn't necessary. But if you are providing a music service or geo-location service, a native app is the way to go.
2. Do you provide customers with a product?
Amazon has the corner on pretty much all ecommerce. Though your business may not require an app quite as sophisticated as Amazon's, there are certain features you should aim for:
- Cross-Platform Integration — If a customer starts shopping on desktop, can they finish on their mobile device? Is this type of seamless transition essential for your customers?
- One-Click Purchases — This feature streamlines the customer experience and leads to higher conversions. Is this a feature your customers would appreciate?
- Search Features — Are customers able to easily search and browse items? Is there more than one way to search? Would customers benefit from both word searches and visual searches, as well as filters and categories?
For some of these conveniences (image search, for example), a native app is essential, but for others, a web-based or hybrid app will serve the site's purpose.
3. Do you provide customers with an experience?
Suppose you are a lawyer or an accountant. You provide a service, but the service isn't provided entirely over the Internet. You may encourage potential clients to interact with your website by filling out a form, but to really engage and interact with a potential client, you might choose to provide them with an entire experience through a mobile app. If that experience is reliable and trustworthy, the app user is more inclined to become a client.
Some custom mobile apps feature games or exclusive information. So if you are a lawyer, your app could be designed to provide users with an easy reference for everyday legal matters, like how far away to park from a fire hydrant. They will gain some knowledge. And they are likely to use the app in the future or to share the app with others.
Since an app like the one described above doesn't require full access to all of the mobile device's features, a hybrid app could work well in this scenario.
Custom Mobile App Development
Ultimately, you want to reach out to as many clients, customers, and users as possible and you want each of them to have a seamless digital experience. If they are coming to shop, you want them to buy. If they are coming for information, you want to provide it quickly and easily.
What you don't want are any disruptions to that user's experience. By developing a custom mobile app for your business, you give yourself the opportunity to stand out from your competitors and delight users beyond the capabilities of your website.