Do you think you need an App?

At least once a week someone tells me that building an app is on their list of things to do in 2013. I love it because my passion for mobile is notable.  The thing is I also cringe because: PLEASE do not do this.

Why?  Apps are expensive, they are limiting (build an app for an iPhone? great! want it for Android too? start over.), just because you’re in the app store does not mean people will find it, but the biggest one is:

you don’t need an app

Most of the companies that mention their desire for an app really just want to look better on mobile devices. In that case what you need is a Web App.

What’s the difference?

A web app works on an internet browser on any mobile device (yes, any) and you can save that web location to your mobiles home screen with a custom icon (so it looks just like an app) – the web app can (and probably should) be completely different than your website. Marketers like to use the words: Device Agnostic (it’s a good thing).

A native app is designed specifically for the operating system of the device – you can check out your site metrics to determine what native apps you should develop but to cover your bases you need to have at least an iOS (Apple) and an Android app.

Is it more complicated than that?  Yes.  Does that matter to you?  Probably not.

What is your next step?

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  • Start to really determine what content your mobile user wants and what interaction you want to encourage.
  • Determine your objectives. How can this extend an existing revenue stream or create a new one? What pain point is this solving?
  • Look at your site metrics – if 90% of your mobile traffic is really coming from iPhones maybe a native app is the right fit.
  • Think about how you’d promote this new online location.