Revolutionary Measures

Appy Days?

You’d have to been living under a rock not to have noticed the app revolution. Driven by smartphones and tablets apps are now everywhere, with hundreds being launched every days covering everything from banking to games and a lot less useful topics in between (virtual bubble wrap anyone?)

One consequence of this is excitement is that everyone wants an app – whether it actually helps their business or not. And as Nick Clarey of Airsource pointed out at last week’s CamCreative, a lot of the time an app is the last thing you should invest in, with a mobile optimised website a much better bet.

Given his business is building apps it is worth looking at the negative points he sees before commissioning one:

1              It is difficult to design an app well – mobile devices are very personal, so people get very protective of what runs on them. Otherwise you risk annoying them by invading into their personal space and providing a negative experience. The small screen space makes design critical to engaging users, but too many apps fail to understand this.

2              You need to keep it fresh. People expect updates and upgrades to apps, but as users control when they update you’ll end up supporting multiple versions of the same app – unlike a website which you update centrally.

3              Apps are expensive. You’re talking £10k to create a decent app from scratch, and costs go up if you plan to deploy on multiple platforms as there’s not a lot of code re-use possible. While you can use cross-platform development tools they tend to give you lowest common denominator apps that don’t use the full functionality of each device. And then you’ve got to buy the devices to test them on and go on to support multiple versions.

4              Apps take time to build. To do it properly you need a full team of user interface designers, graphic designers, engineers, testers and project managers and even then it’ll take 2-3 months to finalise your app.

So given they’re expensive, time consuming to build and have the potential to piss off your users, why should you bother with apps? There are some of Nick’s positive points:

1              App stores offer a built in way for people to discover your product. While there’s a huge variety and number of apps on offer, there are still less than the number of websites in the world. Market your app well, encourage reviews and you will be found.

2              There’s a lot of ways of making money with apps. Whether it is simply selling the app, giving it away and showing ads, selling add-ons or a full freemium model the choice is yours. Yes, the app store takes 30% but statistics show that even if you don’t update your app you only see a drop of 25% in sales per year. So good apps keep selling and making you money.

3              Apps perform better on mobile devices. As they run natively, unlike a website, you have complete control over the functions in the mobile device (like cameras, microphones) and they are more responsive, particularly if you’re offline.

4              If your app delivers a great experience and you really engage customers it is incredibly powerful. Whether that drives greater brand loyalty or app sales the rewards can be extremely positive for your organisation.

So before you rush off into app development take a look at what you want to achieve and whether an app is really the way to go. This is particularly important for PR and marketing people who want to be on trend and part of the app revolution. Think first – have you got a solid business case or are you just creating expensive brochureware that will either not be used, or even worse actually disengage your customers from your company? Apps can be incredibly powerful but they’ve got to be fit for purpose – or you’ll have an expensive white elephant on your hands and egg on your face. And that will make everyone involved very unhAppy indeed…………..

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July 3, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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