Thinking of building a mobile app for your business? With an increasing percentage of smartphone users opting to conduct business transactions on their mobile devices, a mobile app seems like a natural progression that will offer your customers a unique experience in an easy-to-use interface.
But considering whether a mobile app is the right move for your business — and how your plan will be carried out if so — is critical.
Cross-posted from Forbes
Below, eight technology executives share what factors your technology team should consider before investing the time — and capital — into building a mobile app.
1. The entire mobile experience
It’s easy to want to build a mobile app; it’s even easier to miss something. One very important piece to consider is the entire user experience. In our case, our mobile app was built for our online custom clothing business. While we built a beautiful app that allowed clients to build and order shirts, we failed to plan for refreshing out-of-stock/new inventory. Make sure to take the mobile experience into consideration before building an app. — Zeeshan Sheikh, Blank Label
2. Device agnosticism
While we like to believe all users will access our mobile applications through the devices we specify, the practical business reality is they will likely need to access these applications via a variety of “non-standard” devices. Where possible, design the apps from a perspective of device agnosticism — independent of specific devices and operating systems. Let business value drive technology decisions. — Alan Dillman, Marbaloo Marketing
3. User acquisition costs
Mobile is quite different and can be challenging to get new installs. You must use user acquisition channels to promote and acquire installs through paid ads. There is an art and science to it, and you have to carefully and constantly measure your CPI (cost per install) versus LTV (lifetime value). If you’re not careful, tons of money can be wasted on bad channels. — Alex Li, Smule, Inc.
Sure, apps are everywhere. While it may seem as though all the cool kids have them, it doesn’t mean you should. Be sure to ask yourself, “Would it provide a better service to my customers or open up new opportunities?” If the answer isn’t a resounding “no,” then be sure to evaluate all aspects of it and companies to work with. Consultants love to take advantage of inexperience and an open wallet. — Jonah Harris, MeetMe, Inc.
5. Target Market
Before building a mobile app, step back. Why are we considering this? Who are the people that will use this app? What problems will this app solve for them? Why will they want to use this app? Assuming the answers are clear and you’re moving ahead, then ask, “Can we do this well?” There are lots of bad apps, but keeping your users in mind will ensure you build a good app. — Bryan Knight, ColorJar
Not everyone has the luxury of an in-house mobile app developer. Most small companies will end up outsourcing their app development to a third party. The costs can be huge, both in time invested designing the app and money. Take baby steps. First, make sure your website is fully responsive. Then deploy a small app that essentially wraps the website. If there is traction with the app, then jump in. — Ashley Saddul, Recruiter.com, Inc.
You need to ask yourself if the demand for a mobile experience is there. Look at the data points you collect with your other online properties to determine if there’s a mobile segment you aren’t supporting. Is there enough feedback from your audience to tell you that a mobile experience is worth moving forward with? Avoid the buzz around “apps” unless you can quantify the demand. — Taylor Dondich, MaxCDN
Even if you build it, they may not come. That is, unless you have an effective marketing plan in place prior to investing in development. Don’t build it unless you have a unique value proposition and a strong growth strategy. — Gurpreet Singh, TalkLocal
Thoughts … questions
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