Many businesses desperate to keep up with their competitors look for new ways to do just that. While apps aren’t anything new, they can add a different level to your business that can make you stand out from the crowd and show your business as the leader in your industry. However, it doesn’t mean that an app is right for all businesses. There are a few things you should consider before you commit to creating an app.

1. Cost of development

Unless you’re lucky enough to already have the app development skills needed, or know someone that can do it for you, it will cost you. For a start you have the hourly rate to pay for development/UX initially, and if you want an app that is visually enticing you will probably need to add a designer in the mix too.  Not to mention that iOS (Apple) apps and Android apps aren’t cross compatible, so depending on your users and their preferred smartphone/operating system, you will likely need a version developed for both (versions that have bugs or haven’t been properly developed for an operating system will annoy users and damage your reputation).

2. Target Audience

Who do you want to reach? Are they millennials or much older? How do they visit your regular website/Facebook page (Google Analytics/Facebook insights is pretty useful for this one!) – is it with a desktop browser or smartphone? Where in the world are they located and could you need a multilingual app? These are incredibly important questions to answer before you can even approach a developer, because it’s information that they will need too. If you find that you have an older demographic who primarily look at your site through a desktop browser, then chances are it wouldn’t be worth the money to develop an app as it probably wouldn’t be used.

3. What is the point of your app?

You need to ask yourself what you want to achieve; do you want to attract more customers? Do you want to provide a source of information? Do you want to connect with your customers or connect them to each other?  Whatever the goal is, make sure it’s worthwhile enough for your customer to download your app and have it take up valuable screen time and storage, not to mention their own time looking at it. If you are planning a game to get customers interested in your business, you could also consider adding a store finder, contact information or a special offer for email sign ups. It adds another level to the app and also increases the number of people you can market to later.

4. Future development

If you don’t keep the content on your app fresh and up to date, people will lose interest.  You need to give them a reason to keep it and use it frequently (by doing this they regularly engage with your brand and think of it as the ‘go to’ for your industry). If you can’t do that then you need to rethink whether an app is the right route. Your app will need regular updates, not necessarily everyday (depending on the type of app you are after), but you will need to forward plan for any updates relating to special offers, changes in laws/policy, changes in consumer habits etc.

Don’t be put off!!

If you think that an app might not be for you, but you still want to do something, you don’t need to look any further than your own website. If it’s not already mobile optimised then you can add a whole new level of interest to mobile users (now the owning the bigger share of browse time according to search engine watch) by making your site mobile responsive.

Mobile responsive site design doesn’t take anything away from your business either. You still retain your current site, but allow users on the move to see what you can offer.

It is now more important than ever to make your site mobile responsive with Google announcing that it is changing its ranking system to be more friendly to mobile responsive sites, with the non-responsive sites being sent to the bottom of the heap.