Investing in a mobile app? Some things to consider. | Automation.com

Investing in a mobile app? Some things to consider.

Investing in a mobile app? Some things to consider.

By QA Graphics

Mobile apps are definitely a hot topic.   If you’re considering developing an app for your organization, you should first be clear on the difference between native mobile apps and a mobile website, and then identify which will best suit your needs.

Native App: A native application is mobile phone software that is published in the online stores (App Store for iOS for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and Google Play (formally the Android Market) for Android devices). Then it is downloaded by users, to be stored and run locally on their device.

Mobile Website: A mobile website is accessed through a Web browser rather than downloaded. It is not available in the online app stores.

To help you determine the right type for your needs, here are a few things to consider before moving forward.  

Who:  First off, who will benefit from the app? Identify whether it will be marketed to customers or the general public. Or if it will be used internally by sales staff, admin, etc. The audience is an important consideration when determining the right type of app and how it will be made available.   

For example, if you want to market it to the public, it can be made accessible through the web or downloadable from one of the online stores – App Store or Google Play (formally the Android Market).  If the app is for internal use, it can also be installed directly on their mobile device, so internet access isn’t required.  Employees can quickly access interactive sales tools, product demos or presentations out in the field to help streamline the sales and quoting process.  

What:  Next, what information or service will the application provide? Determine if the information is static or dynamic, and whether it will need to be updated frequently.  

If you want to provide greater amounts of information, different than what’s on the existing website, a mobile website is a better option.   Education, news, or more detailed information can be presented in an easily accessible manner.  For example, a restaurant could provide a full menu or nutritional information, or a company could provide training materials.   

If you want to provide a more interactive experience or a service that will benefit users, a native app will better fit your needs.  For example, an app to make reservations, a tip calculator, custom weather reports, etc.  If you want to really get creative, offer a game or fun way to entertain and engage users.  

Another consideration is whether the content will remain static or dynamic. If there is static content that would require significant updates, a mobile website allows those changes to be instantly reflected. Whereas with a native app the users must receive notification and download the updated version to see those changes. For example, if there are errors or bugs that require a new version to be released, you can simply update the mobile website.  With a native app, the users will need to download the new version.  For native apps, it can be a benefit to periodically release an updated version; this allows you to reconnect with users and stay fresh on their mind.

When:  You must also determine when this information should be accessible, and whether or not internet access will be required.  If the main goal is to display online content, a mobile website is the best choice.  If the content or service needs to be used offline at the user’s convenience, a native app is more optimal. If the native app has dynamic content, an internet connection will also be required.

Where:  Last, but certainly not least, where should the app be made available?  If the information will be found through an existing website, it must be a mobile website.   If the app is to be available for download through the App Store for iOS for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, or Google Play (formally the Android Market) for Android devices, then it must be a native app.

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