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Mobile and Web App Development 101

Website, web app, or mobile app — how should your business show up on the web? In a mobile-first world, you might think a mobile app is an obvious choice. However, in many cases, there are also big advantages to building a web app instead. Here's how to decide what's right for your business and how to get started developing your first app.

Web apps: Websites, amplified

Yes, web apps are technically websites. But web apps do so much more than your standard business website. While websites deliver information, web apps provide interaction and personalization. Examples of popular web apps include Gmail, Pinterest, and Trello.

Does that mean every business should opt for a web app over a website? No! If your needs are primarily informational, a mobile-friendly website is enough. Plus, with a custom WordPress site, you can utilize plug-ins to create whatever functionality you need.

When to go mobile

Web apps offer a lot of advantages over mobile apps, including:

  • Affordability.
  • Discoverability.
  • Accessibility.
  • Easy to update.

Nonetheless, sometimes a mobile app is a better choice. If you need a full-screen experience, the ability to send push notifications, or the native functionality of mobile devices (e.g., camera, GPS), opt for mobile. Mobile apps are also a great way to encourage customer loyalty for frequently-used services — think Uber or retail rewards.

So you want to build an app …

You've settled on a mobile or web app for your business. Now what? These steps will bring your app idea to fruition.

  1. Goals, audience, and objectives

A clearly-defined vision is key to developing an app that's both user-friendly and useful. Once you've established the app's purpose and target audience, define key performance indicators. These may include:

  • App downloads.
  • Active users.
  • Session frequency.
  • Session length.
  • Conversion rate.
  • Brand awareness.
  1. Sketching

A basic sketch-up helps a developer bring your vision to life. Sketching lays out the user interface and flow of an app and provides the framework for an app's user experience. You don't need to be an artist or a developer to start sketching your app. Sketches are merely a simple way to flesh out your app idea.

  1. Hiring an app developer

Cost is the first thing on most business owners' minds when hiring an app developer. However, there's more than the bottom line to consider.

  • Project scope: Mobile or web? iOS or Android? Simple user experience or complex? Make sure the development team you hire has the right skills for your project.
  • Portfolio: Testing apps in a developer's portfolio is a great way to get a feel for their work, particularly user experience and interface design.
  • Communication: Finally, you need someone you work well with and who can work efficiently with others on the development team.
  1. Pricing

Will your app be free, paid, or freemium? If you charge for your app, will it be a flat fee or a subscription? Keep in mind that app sales aren't the only way to generate revenue. Ads and in-app purchases generate revenue even for “free” apps.

  1. Testing and monitoring

Thorough testing ensures the public sees only the best version of your app. However, the work isn't over once your app launches. Ongoing monitoring lets developers fix problems before they impact your business.

When measuring an app's performance, do so from the user's perspective. End user experience monitoring lets teams monitor launch time, response time, crashes, and other important user experience metrics from the user's point of view. Unlike device performance monitoring, which instruments the device, implementing end user experience monitoring requires instrumenting your app with an SDK or mobile wrapper before releasing it on the app store.

  1. Marketing

The biggest obstacle to a mobile app's success is getting people to download and use it. Customers don't search app stores the same way they Google, so businesses have to get their apps in front of consumers' eyes another way.

This includes pre-launch marketing to build anticipation, such as teasers, sneak peeks, and content marketing, as well as post-launch marketing in the form of reviews, search ads, and notifications.

Mobile and web apps are excellent tools, but they’re not right for every company. If a mobile-friendly website is a better fit or you’re not quite ready to make the leap into app development, contact Web Guy Nick to learn how you can create a functional, dynamic website using WordPress. With an engaging, responsive, and mobile-friendly WordPress site, you can grow your business and stand out from the competition.

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