Mobile app development – three words that signify business growth like no other. Whether you are a retailer, a supplier, and artist or an entrepreneur, a mobile app can help you run your business better and serve your customers more efficiently. It helps you streamline business processes, automate repetitive tasks, facilitate better communication and overall run a tight ship.
Done properly, a mobile app can enhance your business proposition in a way that most benefits your brand. A well designed mobile app can engage customers and generate new revenue channels.
So what can you do to tap into this wonderful resource?
You build a fantastic app that works for you.
And that takes planning. It requires a strategic understanding of the different processes involved in developing an app.
You don’t need to learn how an app is developed. But you do need to understand how to coordinate with the app developers and designers so that they thoroughly understand your vision and seamlessly blend their technical skills with your business acumen.
After all, mobile app development is a carefully choreographed dance. It doesn’t feel right until the business owner and developers are in perfect sync.
This guide will help you get in sync. You’ll learn all the aspects of app development that matter to you as a business owner, barring all the technical jargon that you don’t need to be bothered with.
For instance, you don’t need to know stateful classes and API calls. But you want to know whether you need a native app, or a web app.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is mobile app development?
- Why does your business need an app?
- Mobile App Development – What you Need to Know
- Types of mobile apps
- How to build a mobile app for your business
- Most popular app categories
So let’s dive right in and take a step-by-step journey into building a mobile app that helps your business grow.
What Is Mobile App Development?
App development is the complete process of creating a software that can run on any mobile device and perform a set of tasks you want it to.
Mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, smart watches and more – have changed our lives for good.
You’d be hard pressed to find a person around you who doesn’t own a smartphone today.
This widespread popularity of mobile devices makes it intuitive that businesses want to connect with their customers on mobile. Users spent an average of 4.2 hours a day using apps in 2020. After 8 hours of work and 8 hours of sleep, that is half of the 8 remaining hours in a day. Of the 8 hours a person gets in a day to spend of their own accord, they’re choosing to spend 50% of it in apps!
In fact, more mind-blowing mobile app statistics from 2020 show that this obsession with apps isn’t slowing down any time soon.
- Customers spent $143 billion in apps in 2020
- Total mobile ad spend grew 26% to hit $240 billion in 2020
- Nearly 90% of mobile internet time is spent in apps
If that doesn’t smell like opportunity to you, what does?
Your business has the highest chance of engaging and connecting with customers if you offer an app that adds value to their life. Anything that helps them do things cheaper, faster or easier, is always welcome.
Why Does Your Business Need An App?
Selling products online is the most straightforward way to use mobile apps for business. There are plenty of other ways though. Here are some of the ways a mobile app can add immense value to any business out there:
Acquire new customers
The people who walk into your business premises to directly buy from you form the bulk of your customer base. That number however can be limited by physical boundaries. When you build an app and start selling your products and services through it, you can reach out to customers across more cities, even states and countries.
Keep your customers more engaged
You not only need to get your customers to buy from you once, you need to turn them into repeat customers. After one purchase, a customer has a 27% chance of making a second purchase from you. With the third and fourth purchase, this number increases to 54%.
Moral of the story, you need to keep your customers coming back, and mobile apps are a great way to stay relevant to your customers. With personalized offers, useful content, timely discounts and a host of other tools available in mobile apps, you can manage to remain an active part of your customer’s life, so they think of you the moment they need to buy again. If your app is good enough, you can even get them to want to buy.
Increase customer loyalty
The world is a village and knowing people helps. If you wish to turn one time visitors into loyal customers, you need to be more than just another ‘provider’ of goods and services. An app lets you build a strong relationship with your customers. It helps you identify each customer’s specific wants,
needs and expectations, allowing you to highly personalize your services.
Provide better customer service
If ever a customer has a problem with your product, even if it is a small problem, it can quickly become a deal breaker if the customer can’t easily communicate with you to sort it out. Having a reliable communication channel to resolve customer issues quickly, answer queries, provide
information and gather feedback is deeply essential to run a successful business. A mobile app lets you do all of these things in one place.
Gather invaluable customer data to improve your business
Business never was a formulaic operation. In modern times, it is even more important to gauge customer preferences and changing expectations, and evolve accordingly.
How do you do that though? How do you know it’s time to switch up the game? That you need to redesign, remodel or entirely reinvent a product?
Mobile apps help you gather customer data in a way no other medium can. What do customers search for and not find? What do they look at longer than others? What they add to cart, what don’t they? Mobile apps answer all those questions for you without even asking questions.
If you want to ask questions, apps let you run quick, non-intrusive surveys that can unlock invaluable customer feedback directly beneficial to your business.
As you can see, mobile apps are exceedingly useful to businesses in so many ways. Now all you need is to know how to build a good mobile app for your business. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Mobile App Development – What You Need To Know
As a business owner, here are some of the pivotal decisions you’ll need to make when it comes to creating a mobile app for your business:
- Choosing the right app development company
- Communicating effectively with the developers and designers so they create an app that’s right for your business
- Providing enough creative freedom to developers while adhering to your business expectations
- Providing your own creative input
- Becoming involved in key decisions like choosing app development technology and monetization models
That last point is of critical importance here. When hiring a mobile app development company, collaborating effectively so that you establish a perfect equilibrium of clean code, good design and right business value is what makes an app successful.
So here are some of the basic concepts of app development that a business owner should know in order to create better mobile apps for business –
1. Types of Mobile Apps
There are mainly three types of mobile apps:
- Native Apps
- Web Apps
- Hybrid Apps
Native apps are apps built specifically for the intended platform like iOS or Android and need to be downloaded from their respective app stores. They live on the phone and utilize all hardware features such as camera, GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and much more, to provide a
truly immersive experience. They allow offline features and lock screen notifications. They can make use of gestures and overall, offer a great experience, becoming a part of the user’s phone itself. Native apps are by far, the gold standard in mobile app development.
On the flip side, cons of native app development include high cost and long development times. You need to hire different developers for the Android and the iOS versions of the app, and the process is much like developing two distinct apps.
Web apps are actually mobile websites that are designed to look like apps, with more capabilities that a websites. Web apps can be accessed through a browser and do not need to be downloaded on to the device. When ‘installed’, they merely create a bookmark on the user’s device. So they take
up no storage and eliminate a barrier to usage. Yet, with today’s technology, web apps can offer remarkably immersive experiences with no visible browser bars or buttons.
With HTML5, web apps can now offer more native-like functionality, largely blurring the lines between native and web apps. They can use device features like GPS and simple gestures.
Many features of native apps however, still allude web apps. Complex gestures, camera API, accelerometer etc. are yet to be used efficiently by web apps.
As the name suggests, hybrid apps are part native and part web apps. They can be developed once and their codebase can be shared across different mobile and web platforms, making the cheaper and faster alternatives to web apps development. They need to be downloaded from the app store and are capable of utilizing many device features. Being cross-platform apps, they can run on iOS, Android or any other platform.
In essence, hybrid apps offer a dependable performance at a lower cost than hybrid apps and offer a more native-like performance than web apps.
Native, Web, or Hybrid? Which Type of Mobile App Development Should you Choose?
That would be the first most important question you’ll need to answer when diving into mobile app development for your business.
It isn’t an easy answer and like all things in life, it depends. However, we won’t try to get away with such a generic answer.
|Native Apps||Web Apps||Hybrid Apps|
· Highest quality
· Highest speed
· Offline functioning
· Use all device features
· Fully personalized
· Most expensive
· Need to be downloaded and installed
· Take up space on device
· Maintenance is expensive
· Cheaper development cost
· Do not need to be installed
· Do not take up space on phone
· Maintenance is super easy
· No need of app store approvals, restrictions or fees
· Have highest discoverability
· Cannot use most device features
· Low on immersive native experience as they work in a browser
· Cheaper than Native apps
· Can use many device features
· Offers native like performance at lower cost
· High quality UI and graphics with very minor differences from native
· Can be slightly slower
· Cannot use some device features
We’ll tell you this – If you have ample budget, native apps are the best option. However, native apps can cost upwards of $10,000, with no upper limit really. We’ve only seen fairly large companies invest in native apps.
If your requirements are particularly lightweight, and you wish to make a presence in the mobile world without pulling out the heavy machinery, a neatly wrapped web application can get the job done.
If you need an app that gives you native like performance without costing your entire funding, hybrid apps are your answer. With modern technologies like React Native and Flutter, you can really build a powerful, high performing hybrid app that looks great on either platform. A perfect solution for small and medium businesses, hybrid apps can be a wise investment if developed by a good app development company.
That brings us to the next important question – how to actually get down to it and start building a mobile app?
2. How to Build a Mobile App for Your Business?
Unless you are a pro-coder yourself, you’ll need hired help to develop a mobile app. In fact even I you are, you still can’t do the job alone, especially when you have a business to run. You could do one of the following three things –
- Build an in-house app development team
- Hire a specialized app development company or agency
- Look for freelancers
Which one to choose now? We’ve got your back again. Here’s a quick look at how each of these work and an analysis that’ll help you decide.
Building an in house team
To be concise, this is an expensive undertaking that is only profitable if your business is tech heavy and you know you’ll have enough other work for the hired developers to do once the app development is complete.
If your core business is unrelated to apps however, hiring, training and regularly paying an in-house team is costly and futile.
Hiring a specialized app development agency
An app development agency is a business that builds great apps for a variety of businesses and is hence the perfect place to find all the expertise your app needs. Front UI/UX design to backend and frontend development, product development, testing, quality assurance and project management.
You have access to collective expertise of a team of app development specialists who have a portfolio of work to prove their mettle, which you can carefully assess and analyze before hiring them. You can check our post on How to find the best app development company for your business.
Hiring a freelancer
There are plenty of freelancers out there and undoubtedly, a lot of them are really good at what they do.
However, the problem lies in finding the right one for you, and the hunt is a tough one. Vetting freelance developers and picking one whom you can truly rely on can be difficult.
Moreover, a developer alone cannot build a mobile app for business. You need at least a designer, if not a complete team. Hiring another designer who could be possibly located elsewhere, and the coordinating between all these people can become a collaboration nightmare.
So if you have a very strong recommendation about a dependable freelancer, that’s great. If not though, choosing a reputed app development agency is the best option when building a mobile app for business.
3. Most Popular App Categories
Now, unless your answer is “I need an ecommerce app that sells products online”, deciding what type of app you want to build can be a tricky one. App stores are full of millions of apps, and making yours stand out of the crowd takes some thought.
How can I create an app that can actually attract and keep its customers? That’s the right question.
Here’s a look at the most popular app categories of 2020. Gaming remains the most popular app category and that trend has been a constant since the dawn of apps. The number two spot however tended to belong to social media and entertainment for most years before 2020. Come 2020 and things changed. Education and business apps soared in popularity due to people studying and working from home. App development trends for 2021 show a shift in focus towards app categories for the new normal like education, business and productivity apps.
In the second half of the graph, you see app categories that ‘appear’ like smaller segments of the app economy, but actually, some of the most popular apps of our time belong to those categories.
- Dating apps made $3 billion in 2020, with Tinder topping the list.
- Sports apps like ESPN and DAZN made 19 and 13 million dollars respectively in January 2020 alone, despite the low-sports year we’ve had.
All the categories listed here have a few apps that are successful and profitable. So no matter what business you are in, you can build an app and make it a revenue grossing proposition if you’re willing to put time and effort into it.
So there you have it – a complete guide to creating a mobile app for your business. To sum it up, you should build a mobile app to help your business grow, acquire new customers and build a strong relationship with your customers, so that they’ll remain loyal to your brand because you’re offering them a highly personalized, engaging experience. There are three major types of apps – native, web and hybrid. Now that you know the pros and cons of each, you are good to go when it comes time to decide what type of mobile app you want. You also know the most popular app categories and the kind of potential each one offers. When it comes to choosing the right mode of development, you can now decide whether you need an in-house team, an app development agency or a freelancer.
The most important thing to remember is that there is immense benefit in developing a mobile app for your business. From making more money to building a loyal brand following, and from developing better offers to gathering important customer data, mobile apps have innumerable business advantages.
So if you have been thinking of building an app for your business, now’s the time to drop the overthinking hat and dive right in.
Ready to discuss your idea?
Get in touch with our team of experienced mobile app developers to bring your vision to life.