Does Your Business Have an App for That?

A guest post by Isabella Woods

Just in case you hadn’t noticed yet, smartphones are slowly taking over the world of technology. And not just smartphones, tablet computers too. At the core of this tech revolution we have Apple with their signature products the iPhone and iPad – and it can’t be overstated just how much of an influencing force these things have had over tech trends. The software that runs on them – ‘apps’, or applications – has burgeoned into a huge market that more and more companies are entering. Companies now use apps as a compliment to their web design; they can almost serve as an intro to your main site, or operate as a ‘lite’ version that shares branding. There’s an app for shopping, an app for reading, an app to get the latest voucher deals, an app for translating menus – but does your company have one yet? And if not, is it about time you did?

Would an app fit your brand and design?
The first question to ask is, would an app be appropriate for your business type? Not only in terms of what you do, but also the level of complexity in your website design. Some companies rely on certain features on their website that simply can’t be emulated on an app, either because they’re too complex or they rely on too many other systems. The great thing about apps is that they can serve as a front end to your web design; so even if you’re worried that your site is too complex, it’s possible to create an app that serves as an entree to your site, then links users to it. Even if you feel an app isn’t appropriate for your company, remember that there are hundreds of thousand of businesses already on the App Store – and they’re not all traditionally tech-led companies, they just know an opportunity when they see one.

Should you charge for your app?
If you do decide to create an app to compliment your website, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want users to pay for it. A good rule of thumb is that if your app will be actively selling product to its users, it’s not a good idea to ask for them to pay for the privilege. On the other hand, if your app does something totally unique and took a long time to develop, you may be within your rights to charge. At the end of the day, your app will be a selling tool – so market it as such.

How should you design your app?
So you’ve decided to create an app for your business. Great news. Now all you have to do is create it. You’ll likely have to bring in a developer or two, or you can get freelancers to help. In terms of design, your app should always be in clear partnership with your website. You want your customers to instantly recognise your brand and the value it offers, so be sure to include your brand colors, logos, wording, and anything else that’s ‘on brand’ for you. The user experience should also be in tune with your website, and make it as easy as possible for users to explore your business and the services you offer. It needs to offer a comparable experience to your website. In this way, your app will become another string to your bow, and drive sales and visits to your site. In terms of which platforms to release the app on, the key players are iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android. You’ll likely see great success even if you only focus on the Apple App Store, because of its market penetration.

Ready to take the plunge?
It’s easy to get caught up in worrying whether or not your app will sink or swim; but look at it this way: you’re much better off having an app available than not – especially when people are spending more and more time on their smartphones and tablets. Your business could really benefit from a presence in any of the app stores, and you can have a little fun designing an app that compliments your existing web design whilst actively working alongside it. It really is a win win.