17 August 2010
Web Design Tip of the Week
by, Lesa Seibert, President, Xstreme Media
So you want an "app" for your business, but is your business app-worthy? With all the hype today about mobile apps, it is easy to get swept up and think that you need one for your business. Research firm Yankee Group estimates that apps will generate $1.6 billion in revenues in the U.S. alone this year. But is an app appropriate for every business? Maybe not. You need to consider the high cost of development and promotion in relation to the return on investment you intend or need to get from this app.
It is not like building a website. Apps can cost upwards of $200,000, depending on their complexity and function. According to Sam Gaddis, CMO for Mutual Mobile, a leading custom app agency, a successful app provides utility - something that users will benefit from rather than a one-time download that gets deleted soon after. To provide utility, an app must have certain systems in place. He notes that building an app that integrates with some existing data or systems will be much easier and more cost-effective than building data and systems from the ground up.
The other thing you must consider when you design an app is how are you going to market and support it once it is developed. How much are you willing to dedicate to this? You can't expect the app store to fulfill marketing distribution and leads. You need a marketing plan for the app before you start anything else.
Event if you don't have a big budget for apps, you can still create an app presence. Several companies offer simple, stripped-down apps that can provide a presence for businesses, even if it is simply and updated RSS feed and a way to browse content and contact the owner. Some providers include MyAppBuilder.com
. But, like most things in life, you get what you pay for. However, event a very simple app will get you in the game. It can provide a critical touch point for the fastest growing medium on the Internet.
Another way to get an app presence is to use Web-based apps. If you can use HTML5 and create a Web app optimized for iPhone or iPad, that's low hanging fruit that makes sense for your business. Another alternative is to piggy-back on larger apps. For example, a local business can offer rewards for Foursquare
users when the "check in" or become a "Mayor" of the local business. The Foursquare app claims for that 725,000 users and 22 million check-ins. That is a sizable audience and a very interesting opportunity for a small business.
Keep in mind that many of the popular consumer websites have apps - Facebook, Yelp and Google Maps. This is not only a way to stay connected to the app world, but in the case of an app like Yelp, could generate business. Stay on top of these websites and your company's standing on these sites to make sure that app-minded consumers have a good experience, even if you don't have an app or any intention of developing one.
So, do you need an app? That answer depends on your business model, your budget and your users. If you have a techy consumer base, then an app makes sense. But if your consumer base is not so techy, might not be a good use of funds.