Virtually everyone has a mobile phone these days, from your 8-year-old nephew to your 80-year-old grandmother. Most of these devices are smartphones: tiny computer sidekicks that we consult frequently throughout our day for advice on the weather, answers to trivia questions, communications from friends, and information about local businesses. More than ever before, business success depends on being mobile friendly. If your business is considering custom app development for mobile devices, here are a few points to help you get organized before you talk with a development team.
Who is your target audience?
First, do you want to develop an external-facing app that targets your potential customers or an internally focused app that enables your employees to be more productive? A sales app can be really useful for a business that sells items people might want to browse and buy, like a jewelry company, or schedules frequent appointments, like a nail salon. A recent study by Kissmetrics reported that 78% of mobile searches for local businesses resulted in a purchase. On the other hand, an app that allows employees to work more effectively and access secure internal systems might be more useful for a business where a sales app isn’t generally necessary or appropriate, like a law firm. A dedicated app could enable users to review client files on the go while maintaining security and client confidentiality.
What do you want the app to do?
Obviously, you want the app to save time and effort for its users. You want your customers or your employees to be able to access your content easily and interact with it in an expedient and satisfying manner. But what specific things do you want an app to do? For example,
- For customer-facing apps, do you want users to be able to book appointments, purchase products, or schedule services? Or do you want your app to just be informative and provide your audience with a trusted reference, which can improve your brand authority and SEO?
- Do you want your app to retain customer information, making future interactions even faster and easier? Does the nature of your industry require secure authentication each time the app is accessed?
- For internal apps, do you want your employees to be able to access and modify data in real time on company systems like time clocks, or do you want data to be separately uploaded into your systems?
Before you meet with a development team, you should analyze how your business works, what you want the application to do, and what types of data it should store.
How much do you want to manage your app?
You can build your own custom business application using do-it-yourself platforms, but you may need to make a significant investment of time and effort. It may make more sense to hire professional developers who will listen to your needs, help you choose the right platform for your app, and work with your budget. This helps ensure that your app runs smoothly, provides a good customer experience, and doesn’t require significant ongoing technical support and management on your part.
What do you think is around the corner?
If you’re planning to invest in building a custom app for your business, you should consider what benefits or features you may want it to have as your company grows. For instance, right now, a restaurant might merely want to showcase its farm-to-table menu options for each day but envision a future in which diners would be able to join a waitlist or make a reservation that would sync in real time with a yet-to-be-installed in-house reservation system. Or it might want an employee-facing app that allows the staff to check their schedules and paystubs and will eventually allow them to clock in and out and swap shifts with other employees. Having those kind of “wish lists” in mind when building your app can make it easier and more economical to add or activate features in the future.