If you’re not mobile, where’s your business going?
In our phone-addicted, app-obsessed world, it’s no secret that mobile’s mandatory. But when it comes to platforms, content, features, and updates, there are a lot of paths you can take. Here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate.
Pick your platform
Decision One is what platform to use—iOS, Android, or both. Nowadays, Android is the dominant mobile system worldwide followed closely, at least in the United States, by iOS. Given that close market share margin, plan on both operating systems if you’re going to develop a native mobile app. You don’t have to launch simultaneously, however, so you can space out the development if budget’s an issue.
With that said, which operating system should you launch with? Here are some things to consider:
- What system are your customers using? Start with whatever they use.
- Smartphones are one thing; tablets are another. While Android’s the leader in phone operating systems, it has yet to gain solid ground in the tablet market. The iPad, however, is synonymous with the tablet. So if you’re thinking tablet, definitely think iOS first.
- iOS users are more willing to pay for an app. But don’t worry, there are ways to profit from an app developed on an Android platform.
- Use developers who are proficient in both platforms. After all, you wouldn’t choose a foreign language interpreter who only spoke one language, right?
The native versus responsive debate
Essentially, it comes down to this: if your customers are coming to your website for simple information like service offerings and location, you need a responsive mobile website. However, if your site features a higher level of user interaction such as user logins, account management data, or mobile commerce functions, then a native mobile app is a good idea. That’s because native apps are built for a specific platform, either Android or iOS, so they use the features and functions already built into your customers’ devices to make your app more robust.
Features to consider
Businesses large and small are jumping on the mobile app bandwagon. But in order to ensure your app adds value to your business, keep these considerations in mind:
- Make your content shareable via social media. If your customers like it, they’ll share it—and stay on your app longer (then come back to it).
- Let your customers customize your app. Let them adjust things like colors, fonts, and privacy settings. The more your app feels like it’s their app, the more likely they’ll use it.
- Reduce clicks. The more clicks a user has to make and the more information you require of them, the more likely they’ll be to leave your app. Get to the content quickly and simply.
- Include analytics. Track your audience’s actions and experiences with your app. This will help you improve your app with future updates.
- Provide relevant content and a rich experience. Your app should offer content your customers want—and chances are it’s not content they can get on your website.
- Get user feedback. This will help you improve your app—and your relationship with your customer.
App updates: they come in all sizes
If your audience isn’t getting fresh, relevant, and updated content from your app, they won’t come back—and they’ll go somewhere else fast.
An app is used for about one month before the content gets stale. But content updates don’t have to be extensive in order to keep your audience’s attention. They can be simple, like calendar and news feed updates, followed by push notifications so your customers know your app is active.
Those are simple content updates. But let’s talk about bigger, bug-fixing and user interface-improving updates.
Bug fixes ensure your app is working they way it’s intended. They’re usually needed after the launch of an app or version update—bugs inevitably surface once the app is used more broadly, no matter how extensively the app was tested in the beta phase.
Remember what we said earlier about getting user feedback? It’s invaluable because it will tell you if you need to add or delete features or change UI. While you probably just spent a lot of time creating your app, it’s critical that you have the ability and flexibility to adjust your app according to what your audience is asking for.
Eventually you’ll need to do a major update to your app, which will likely involve changes to both UI and features. The question then will become whether to do the update or create a whole new app. Usually it’s the former, however, it’s certainly worth a conversation with your developer as there are pros and cons to both scenarios.