So you’ve created a website to promote your business – good move! This is one of the best ways to increase engagement with your audience and to create countless more marketing opportunities. These days it’s a no brainer in fact and any business that doesn’t have a website is seriously missing out. That’s why nearly every business has a website these days in fact.
But while nearly every business has a website, relatively few have a mobile app. This is shocking when you consider just how many people have smartphones these days and how many apps are downloaded a day. There are over 1.2 billion apps in the Apple app store and 46 million of those get downloaded every day. At this point we haven’t even mentioned Android or Windows Phone…
In other words, apps are where websites were not that long ago and they’re continuing to grow. In some areas apps have even replaced websites for certain jobs. So that leaves one question: why doesn’t your business have an app yet?
How Businesses Can Use Apps?
So what exactly would your business do with an app?
Actually there are plenty of things.
For starters, an app can be used simply in the same way that you might normally use a website. That means turning an app into a ‘shop window’ for your business or into a portfolio to show your work. As with a website, you can use apps to directly sell to your customers and that’s true whether you have an ecommerce store, or whether you want users to be able to make bookings for your restaurant or to order your fast food.
Businesses can use apps in other ways too. For instance, if you provide an service or product already, then you can add further value with an app. The app could provide instructions on how to use your product for instance or it could be a ‘freebie’ that provides information or entertainment of its own to supplement the main product.
Even if your app doesn’t get many downloads, simply having it in the store can actually mean your company name gets seen by more users and this will increase your brand recognition. In other words then, apps do everything that websites do and more and can benefit your company in a myriad of ways.
How to Build an App
With all that in mind then, how do you go about building an app?
This is where things get a little more complicated but the good news is that there are easy options that will suit even those with no budget and no experience.
The most straightforward way to create an app is to hard code it in house. In other words, this means building the app yourself from scratch or getting someone on your team to do it. If you’re making an Android app, this will mean coding in Java and using the Android SDK (software development kit). For iOS apps meanwhile it means using objective C. Both are complicated for beginners and if it’s your first time coding, then it will be much easier to choose another route.
One other route is to choose a slightly easier tool for coding apps. The best example here is to use Basic4iOS or Basic4Android. These are ‘integrated development environments’ that enable you to program in the BASIC (Beginners’ All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) language when building apps. This gives you full control but is considerably easier than using the other two methods. That said, it still takes some time and still benefits from coding experience certainly.
The last option when it comes to building apps yourself is to use an ‘app builder’ such as Appatap. These builders let you build apps by dragging and dropping elements and uploading images and text. In that regard it’s similar to creating a WordPress site with a pre-set theme. This method is very easy but you lose a lot of functionality – these apps tend to function as basic websites rather than being able to use the full features of the phones they’re installed on.
Another option meanwhile is to outsource the process to a third party. You can find mobile app developers on sites like Elance and oDesk, where you’ll normally pay by the hour. This method can work well but it can also backfire as you lose a lot of control over the final product and the freelancers can be varied in terms of quality.
Some Last Tips
Whichever option you choose, make sure that you work to get the look of your app down. Smooth animations and crisp images make all the difference and this is crucial when you’re making an app that will represent your business. That said, don’t worry about adding tons of extra features until you’ve released a basic MVP (minimally viable product) to test the market for your app. The great thing about apps is that you can keep updating them after they launch, so you shouldn’t sink lots of time and money into the project until you’ve ‘verified’ that it’s going to provide good ROI.