Does your business need an app?

By: March 29, 2020

There’s an app for that. Remember that advertising campaign from the early days of the iPhone? Apple trademarked the phrase in 2010 and now, 10 years later, it seems truly prophetic. After all, today, there’s an app for just about anything.

As the internet age has morphed into the mobile age, businesses have latched on to the fact that just having an online presence is not enough. They have to think mobile-first. More than 90 percent of smartphone use involves the use of apps, so it’s no surprise that businesses are racing to launch ones of their own.

But there are two sides to those statistics. A quarter of the apps downloaded are used once and then forgotten. An incredible 80 per cent are abandoned and never used again after three months. So before you dive headlong into sinking time and money into developing an app, ask yourself these questions to determine whether it is really going to deliver a return on that investment.

Is your website mobile optimised?
Sure, it’s a mobile age, and that needs to be reflected in your website. Does yours feature a responsive design that’s mobile-optimised?

The easiest way to find out is from a customer perspective on your smartphone. Check that menus are accessible, dropdowns are readable and buttons work as they should. If the site doesn’t work well on mobile devices, that needs to be your priority before you even think about developing a mobile app.

Will people derive benefit?
It should be the glaringly obvious question, but sometimes people get so carried away with the thought that they need an app and they lose sight of what the customer needs. What benefit will an app bring, or problem will it solve? A couple of examples help illustrate the point.

Mobile gaming is big. In fact, it is bigger than console and PC gaming combined. If a player wants to spend some time in their favourite online casino, they don’t want to go through convoluted logging in via a mobile browser. There are dozens of casinos with their own mobile apps and you can visit the Irish section here. The advantage of playing games through an app instead of a browser in terms of security and simplicity is clear.

When banks went online, it was a convenience. When they developed mobile apps, it was a revolution. A little like the gaming, the usability advantages of app-based over browser-based banking is manifest in a matter of seconds.

If your customers will derive a similar tangible benefit from your proposed app, you could be on to a great idea. If not, take a close look at what you are doing and make sure it is not just a vanity project.

What are your competitors doing?
Competitor analysis should be a factor in any business decision, and that includes the question of apps. Do your competitors have apps? What are they like, how many downloads have they had and what do reviewers like or dislike about them?

All these factors will provide clues as to whether you need an app at all, and if you do, the sort of functionality it does and doesn’t need.

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