Why Does My Business Need a Mobile App?

Why Does My Business Need a Mobile App?

Written by Ned Fasullo on Sep 05, 2017

What is the Mobile Experience all About?

Five years ago, mobile was really a class unto itself. Today, the lines between mobile and desktop are extremely blurred and on a future collision course when everything is just content and it is all consumed from whatever device the consumer wants to use. On top of this, there is a distinct difference between a native mobile app and a responsive website that looks mobile. Confused? A lot of businesses are too. The true definition of the mobile experience is that ‘you can deliver your content/message from a central point to any internet connected device for consumption’. The biggest issue is knowing when you need something that is just mobile responsive versus a true native mobile app. 

Native Mobile versus Mobile Responsive

Put simply, a native app is one that is coded and designed to work within the parameters of the two major mobile app stores - Apple/iOS and Google Play/Android. The creation of a single mobile app can result in the catering of said app to two totally different sets of device users. This brings the advantage of accessing the largest possible market of device users (into the billions worldwide). A mobile responsive app is simply a website or web application serving content that when viewed on a mobile device, the content will conform to the screen it is being displayed on. No extra coding needed, but a different experience than downloading and using a native mobile app.

Pros and Cons of Native versus Responsive

A recent article from Business Computing World UK by blogger Chrissy Ma provides wonderful insight into this area.

  • Programming language – Though most mobile platforms release their own SDKs, enabling developers to build apps in the platforms’ supported programming language, these languages generally belong to one of a few root languages. For instance, C# is supported natively by Windows 8 platform whereas C and C++ can be used in BlackBerry, Windows and Android mobile apps.
  • UX and UI – One of the biggest difficulties the cross platform development approach needs to tackle is the implementation of the different user interface and user experience patterns unique to the individual platform. While creating a uniform design pattern compatible with all platforms, design principles and design philosophies should, on no account, be ignored. A typical example is the app design for Windows Phone. Whilst most platforms strive for an app design that looks and feels like a counterpart of them in the real world, the Windows Phone apps seek for imposing authentic digital experience as much as possible. Another major challenge in uniform design is that the UI design may look completely different across each platform. Sometimes, the development team will use the tactic mimicking UI elements that look but do not work the same on each platform. But once users switch devices owning the different operating system, they will be probably suffering inconsistent user experience. Therefore, rather than spending much effort mimicking a native control, it is comparatively easier to create an elegant design on a single platform which makes the app becomes very intuitive.
  • Multitasking support – Multitasking makes it possible to run some apps at the same time. This feature may behave differently across each platform. Taking Android as an example. There are a few background services and you can run a couple of apps at the same time. Users do not have to exit apps as it will be done by the OS automatically when resources run low whereas, on iPhone, users always need to double click “Home” button and swipe up the windows in order to totally stop running the app. Otherwise, with a limited selection of background tasks, those iOS apps will continue to do tasks even if users exit apps. If background services could help improve app offerings, it is highly recommended to evaluate cross platform strategies carefully to ensure that it gains full access to the capabilities of mobile phones.
  • In-app activities – In-app purchase, in-app advertisements and in-app push services are considered as three principal aspects whilst evaluating payment features of a platform. Moreover, the former two factors play an essential role from mobile app monetization perspective, particularly, in terms of game apps monetization. For instance, the in-app advertisement mechanism works differently on each platform and there are some independent third-party vendors providing platform-specific payment solutions. Considering the security and convenience of the transaction process within the app, these in-app activities definitely add value to a better user experience and higher revenue.

Signs that Your Business is Ready for a Mobile Experience

So when you think it’s time for mobile, how do you know which direction to take? Here are some tips to consider:

I want an app that allows staff doctors to communicate referrals and patient info with each other securely.

When it comes to anything medical or patient related, HIPAA compliance is a must. An app of this nature would definitely need to be native and enterprise grade which means it is not in the app stores and only available/functional on the internal network the doctors are on. You would also want to make sure that your data input and output is auditable from the database level for compliance.

I want an app that allows my customers to shop online like they do with my current online store.

This scenario can potentially go both ways. You can certainly develop a native mobile app for both app stores and have your content ‘pushed’ to it from your current online store, or you can optimize the coding of your current online store to be mobile responsive so that shoppers have a similar experience when using their mobile.

I want an app that employees can access our internal business systems from in the field.

Assuming that your internal business software doesn’t already have a mobile entry app, then native is the way to go here. Native apps will allow for much more security and a more condensed user experience.

I want an app to provide sales & marketing materials to my reps in the field for their clients.

In this case, native all the way! Building a content engine that empowers your sales teams can be extremely efficient in the sharing, presenting and sending of sales & marketing collateral. You can also integrate features for digital document signatures to sign contracts on the devices.

I want an app to serve news and information and sell advertising.

This one is tricky as there are many CMS (content management systems) for building news and magazine related websites that produce the mobile view of your content. If you already have your site up and running and you just want to add mobile, native or mobile responsive can work here. Again there are issues that can sway this either way definitively so make sure you nail down exactly what it is you need or expect from the end user experience.

Are You Prepared?

Envoc stands ready with cutting edge talent and innovative thinking to plan and implement a mobile strategy that best suits your needs for today and tomorrow. 

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