“Why do you need an App?” I’m a frequent reader of tech blogs and one of the questions I get asked a lot is “What is an app and why does someone need it?” I’ve put together this simple beginner’s guide on mobile app development. This article is my opinion, and what I hope will be a useful conversation starter for those that are just getting started in the App Store market.
what is an app? An app is an application, software, or program that allows a user to do something on a mobile device (usually referred to as being “accessed through the Internet”). In other words, if you have an iPhone and use your finger to tap into the Maps application to get to your home, you are using your iPhone as an app. That is the simple definition, but there are tons of other terms you’ll come across throughout the lifetime of your mobile device. Here’s a list of the most commonly used terms in business and personal apps.
Why do I need an App for my Business? First of all, if your business revolves around apps, then you probably have a business. Second of all, if you don’t have an app for your business, then you are losing customers. App makers are creating apps for business owners that give the information a business owner needs within the mobile environment. You may even consider creating your own app, but here are some ideas to think about:
What’s in it for me? Do you have an ulterior motive when creating an app? If you are thinking about selling something, would you want it to be very detailed or very simple? If you are building an app in order to sell something, would you rather have 3D graphics, or text? How important is privacy to you? Do you want to protect your customers’ information?
What do I need in a native app? Will the users of your app understand the native language of your device, or would they prefer a foreign language? Would a browser based app is more practical than an app designed for cellular screen orientation? What kind of user interface features should I include?
What other users are using your service? Is there a chance your app will compete with existing mobile commerce solutions? Will it make you money? How will I reach the mass market? What is your competition doing in this space? You need to think about the app as though you were starting a new business in mobile technology.
What are your requirements now? Will you use a Java app or a native mobile app? Do you use web services, or will you choose to build the entire app as a native program? Do you already have a robust system for mobile transactions, or is it still too early to figure that out?
Why do you need an App for your business? If your answer is “I don’t know” then you are missing many important points in regards to making the transition to mobile commerce. If you can answer yes to all these questions, you are well on your way to knowing whether you should be designing and developing an app for your business. I am sure you’ll agree that building and maintaining an app is much easier than initially thinking about it. And we both know that gaining profit is the number one reason to go for an app in the first place.
Can you explain to me exactly what you intend to do with your app? Does it help you manage your inventory or run your eCommerce store? Do you plan to allow employees to log in from any device, or do you intend to have the app strictly for customers? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself when deciding which app platform you should use for your business. It is also very important to consider how users will interact with your app once they have been built.
How will the information in your app change over time? Is there a lot of use for photos and videos in the future? If you are developing a mobile-friendly app, do you need to use certain technologies or practices to ensure that your app will play well on mobile devices or does not crash due to a lack of mobile web standards?
When you consider all of this together, you can begin to determine if you really need an app for your business. However, keep in mind that most apps are simply another way for you to make the same basic, but much more efficient business. So the answer to the why do you need an app question is: Almost everything! But not every app is right for your business.