Should You Develop an App?

When clients come to us with questions about app development, we start with a basic questionnaire. (We love questionnaires and have one for just about everything—from branding to social media marketing.) As they review it, they often find themselves surprised that they haven’t asked the obvious questions about whether or not to develop an app. The conclusion can go either way. It’s not that we don’t want their money. But good client relationships aren’t forged when checks are cashed and nothing is gained on the other side. We’ve had a lot of conversations over the past year about when to app, and when not to app, and have come to some conclusions on the topic.

When to App

An app is appropriate when your audience needs to access information on a relatively regular basis. It’s most appropriate when the input from the user is easy to facilitate (with basic option selections and limited keying-in requirements). It should provide an immediate automated response. Clients need to ask themselves not only what they want the app to do, but where they want the information to go. If back end data systems are up and running, an app is a great way to get a customer’s to access it. For instance:

  • Real estate agencies with MLS feeds can provide detailed searches and results for home seekers.
  • Retail customers with an integrated ecommerce/pop systems can offer easy in-app purchases for their customers.
  • Solid databases from a web site can feed relevant and up-to-date information to customer who are looking for a place, product or service with defined parameters they can easily identify (such as zip code, size, service area, etc.).

When not to App

If the user won’t need to access the information provided by your both repeatedly, and for an extended amount of time, they aren’t likely to download it. When attached documentation or other complex information is required, a web site is typically a better platform for this type of exchange. And if the user doesn’t typically need or want mobility with their user experience, then and app is not likely going to be a profitable investment.

App and Web Coordination

Regardless of whether or not an app is a good idea, a comparable web site should also be able to facilitate the necessary exchange of information. Some clients will always conduct business on a computer over a mobile device due to personal preference, bandwidth limitations and lack of confidence in app technology. These days, a strong web site created under ideal platforms (like those that we develop), can provide the foundation for a coordinated app at a much lower bottom line than a stand-alone. Integrated web and app technologies can expose your brand to a larger audience and reduce the time spent on back-end updates.

Thinking about app development? Here are a few resources to consider before you get started.