There are millions of apps available for the three leading mobile platforms of Android, iOS and Windows. But how do go about creating an app for your own company?
Remember when the internet was all about websites? In today’s world of 4G and tablets, those memories already seem sepia-tinged. Browsing the internet is increasingly rare on today’s phones and tablets, which have an average of 33 apps installed. Each standalone program will have its own unique interface and functions, performing specific tasks.
Apps exist for truly obscure reasons. You can download programs that show depressing photos, or to provide live updates on Middle East drone strikes. Apps can tell you when it’s safe to visit the toilet during a cinema screening without missing key plot points, or what nearby ghosts are saying. And while some developers clearly have too much time on their hands, the existence of these apps proves how easy it is to create useful business applications.
There are three main reasons why businesses tend to launch their own apps:
#1. To simplify.
An ecommerce app can streamline baskets and purchase platforms, in a secure and distraction-free environment. Many people find online banking or shopping easier through an app than a website, especially on a small screen.
#2. To entertain.
The top three apps in Google Play store are all social media platforms, with broadcasters and streaming services in the top ten. Games also appear prominently, offering huge scope for generating revenue through in-app purchases.
#3. To build loyalty.
If people install your app, there’s a permanent reminder of your brand on their home screen or in their app folder. This helps your business to stand out, improving customer engagement while encouraging repeat business.
Apps offer invaluable marketing, with obvious scope for showing off logos and slogans. They promote your business in today’s hugely popular online stores, and they can be tailored to suit your audience. A well-designed app has few downsides, beyond its development costs.
Having defined a reason for having a new business app, how can you go about creating it?
#1. Research competitors and third-party apps to establish how the better ones operate. For instance, can you charge a fee for your app, or should it be funded by advertising?
#2. Develop a business model. An app costs money to develop. If it’s not generating revenue, it needs to pay for itself by increasing profits or building brand loyalty.
#3. Consider design ideas. Platforms like Dribbble are great for design and construction inspiration, while other websites offer wireframe templates for sketching site maps.
#4. Recruit an app developer. A simple Google search will turn up freelance app developers, who can program the app to your brief while making it look stylish.
#5. Develop a unique interface. How will people use the app, and what interactions will take place? Unique skins and simple navigation will appeal to most users.
After extensive testing on multiple devices (identifying and eliminating glitches), your app will be ready to go live. Android will upload it automatically, though Apple and Windows pre-approve apps before they’re publicly listed for download. Promoting the app elsewhere will involve a blend of advertising, networking and social media updates, while post-launch tweaks can deal with any negative feedback by improving the user experience.