It is no secret that the mobile revolution is upon us and that mobile usage is now higher than desktop usage. The implications are clear: you need to be able to reach your audience on mobile and provide an optimised mobile experience to your users, or you will lose out.
However, it is also becoming apparent that people don’t use mobile and desktop in the same way. Yes they spend more time browsing the internet on mobile, in particular for social media, messaging and news. But for more detailed research and purchasing, they tend to use other devices, such as tablets and desktops. It is therefore not surprising that mobile conversion rates are lower in retail than for other larger devices.
So even though mobile penetration is definitely high, building a mobile app might not be the right answer for your business. We have asked Nic Alpi, our CTO, about 5 important things to consider if you want to build a mobile app.
1. Do you need a mobile app?
It mostly depends on your product. At CookiesHQ, we work with a lot of SaaS products, so if a mobile app is needed, it is usually to complement an already existing web-based product. In that case, we would build the web version first, making sure it is responsive and accessible on all types of devices, which allows us to assess the need for a mobile app and then get the APIs ready to build the complementary mobile app.
However, if you are creating a consumer product, then the need for a mobile app largely depends on your userbase. If you are targeting the so-called millennials, there is a big chance that they will prefer interacting with your product using an app or a chatbot.
In the end, for most businesses, it is a balance between initial build cost, market position and launch deadlines.
2. Who can build a mobile app?
Just like everything that is code-related (web development, software development), anyone can do it as long as they are willing to commit the time needed to learn. There are plenty of resources to teach you how to build a mobile app. If you are a bootstrapper or if you have a very tight budget, then it is a valuable option.
On the other hand, an agency will usually offer you more than just code. They will bring with them their technical, design, UX and marketing experience, so your end product should be more polished.
3. What are the different types of apps, and what technologies do they use?
The 3 main areas of technology are:
- Native apps: they are more performant, but also more costly to develop since you will need both an Android and an iOs app, that can only be developed and maintained separately. The technologies involved are Swift for iOs and Java for Android.
- Progressive Web Apps (PWA): they are apps that sit in your web browser and that you can download to your home screen, without the need to download an app from the store. You can read more about PWA in a blog post we published last October.
4. How easy is it to get your app to the app stores?
Submitting an app to the iOs app store requires approval time. Following the guidelines will reduce it, but you still need to account for Apple often being quite picky, so you won’t be able to announce a launch date for an iOs app.
On the other hand, submitting an Android app to the store is usually much more straightforward.
5. Are there any other costs than development?
Apple take a 30% commission on all payments for digital goods such as ebooks and subscription-based products. You are also not allowed to sell services outside the app using In App Purchases.
In a few words, although optimising your product for all users on mobile is essential, building a mobile app, and especially a native mobile app, is not always the best choice. It is important to take into consideration not only the cost to build the app, but also your type of product or service, your users and the ease and cost of maintaining the app in the long-term.