By James Hall
The idea of building a native application (app) to capture your mobile customers may sound pretty glamorous. Native apps often provide nearly unlimited access to your user’s device features and give interactions that silky smooth feeling users love. More importantly, it offers a fully owned platform that captures user attention and delivers rich insights into customer behavior.
While the appeal is understandable, it’s time to reel in your expectations. More often than not, your mobile strategy needs more than a shiny new app.
Native App Versus Responsive Website
Native app development costs often run in the six-figure range, taking months or years to develop—and that’s if you choose a single platform, like iOS or Android. Beyond the cost, apps simply aren’t used like most businesses want. Based on data from mobile intelligence startup, Quettra, 80 percent of all users will only open an app one time before deleting it. The average consumer only uses three or four apps regularly, and 95 percent of app users disappear within 90 days.
Successfully launching an app is an uphill struggle. Before plunging a lot of money and time into app development, determine if it’s really critical for your business. Two basic questions can help uncover the answer.
First, ask whether your digital experience delivers immediate, real-time information to users. An example of such an experience would be a ride-sharing platform or a product inventory app. Native apps are great for quickly connecting users to information and delivering daily utility. If users need to check a database once per month, an app isn’t likely to help.
Second, does your product leverage a user’s location, contacts, and SMS extensively? This level of functionality requires a seamless digital experience that needs to leverage a mobile device’s hardware.
If the answer to both questions is “no,” that doesn’t mean there is no mobile strategy for your business. Rather, it means that it’s best to put your attention on bringing a mobile experience to your customers that delivers utility without destroying your budget.
Building a responsive website offers a mobile solution that works across all platforms for a fraction of the investment. Responsive design brings a mobile solution to market quickly, offering an iterative platform that delivers immediate value and can improve overtime.
Through continual user testing, the business can quickly identify core features and user behaviors that can be taken into account when an app eventually makes sense.
Beyond the speed to market, businesses can typically save 60 percent in development costs by focusing on a responsive website over a native app. Ultimately, the decision to build a native app should be guided by your audience and marketplace. Too often, clients want to build natively right off the bat, without the insights to build the right solution for their customers. A responsive website offers a great foray into mobile, providing the right insights and user feedback to get the product off the ground and in front of mobile customers. SW
James Hall is the VP of software development for 352. Raised in the Florida Keys, he shunned the paradise for a computer screen and began learning how to program. With more than 15 years of development under his belt, he helps the development teams at 352 create smart solutions for clients.
Feb2016, Software Magazine