If You Build it, Will They Come?
Consuming information is one half of the picture, sending it out is the other. Is developing an app right for your company? An app enables organizations to create a continuous relationship with customers, keeping them up to date with the latest announcements. Having a Web presence is essential to every organization, but as more users access the Web from their phone, dedicated applications allow for a fast, user-friendly way to connect with a company while on the go.
Many of the same reasons behind hosting a company Web site apply to apps, but they also provide additional benefits. “Instead of having a Web site, you’re maintaining a day-to-day relationship with customers. You’re actually in their pocket, rather than relying on them to go to a computer and visit your site. There are fewer distractions, as it’s dedicated to your organization,” notes Aric Kurzman, employee, Mobile Roadie, LLC.
There are options for businesses thinking of approaching app development; many available on the Web. Several organizations such as Mobile on Services, Inc.’s BuildAnApp, GENWI’s iSites, MobileAppLoader, Mobile Roadie, MotherApp, and SwebApps offer some form of development services to help ease the pain of designing a custom app from the ground up and publishing it to various platforms and stores.
It is important to consider the type of app you need, which will help determine the development route. “A company that absolutely needs an in-depth e-commerce app might want custom development to integrate with existing infrastructure, and will often need to hire internal teams to maintain the app,” says Kate Bagoy, product manager, GENWI.
This level of development is not an option for all small- to medium-sized businesses. Companies such as iSites provide self-service platforms that allow users to create apps using existing content in the form of RSS feeds or other services. “Our system does the work to get that content packaged into apps for Apple iOS and Android,” adds Bagoy.
BuildAnApp is a cross-platform, do-it-yourself solution that offers an affordable, intuitive way for businesses, community groups, and professional service organizations to create customized smartphone applications and optimize information for on-the-go audiences. BuildAnApp offers a variety of customizable templates to easily create and distribute smartphone applications without any development expertise. The company’s user-friendly, six-step process is designed to make building an app easy for everyone.
The iSites app management system is designed for easy customization. Businesses with an RSS feed, blog, social media profile, or media sharing account can import them directly into an app or use the system’s quick post features to input content to share. iSites users easily organize content within categories, modify colors, manage advertising space, and preview in real-time with the app simulator. Once built, businesses upload custom images to the Apple App Store and Android Market. Pricing for iSites’ app development tools start as low as $25 a month.
MobileAppLoader is an innovative marketplace that enables businesses to build customized mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android platforms. Businesses choose the app design and upload customized content and MobileAppLoader does the rest.
Mobile Roadie offers comprehensive mobile app development and management services for Android, Apple, and BlackBerry platforms. The scalable solution targets sophisticated clients, such as athletes and sports teams, authors and writers, education, movies and television, bands and musicians, places of worship, radio stations, and celebrities. To attract smaller businesses outside of its traditional client sphere, the company is dedicated to continuously improving the ease of use and accessibility of its solutions. The company’s Core platform is the base tier of its three-tiered option strategy, which also includes Plus and Pro. Mobile Roadie services consist of an initial setup fee plus a manageable monthly or yearly fee.
MotherApp offers services for end-to-end mobile app development on major platforms. Additionally, MotherApp Generator for Web developers enables the creation of native mobile apps without learning the software development kits—commonly referred to as SDKs. Its core technology converts HTML with special markups into native apps for every major mobile device platform, including Android, Apple, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile. The MotherApp Engine is an advanced cross-platform framework that turns applications coded in MotherApp HTML into native widgets; with the look, feel, and functionality the user expects on a mobile device.
SwebApps is a simple and inexpensive outlet for building, tracking, and updating native mobile apps for businesses or organizations. It enables the creation of iPhone and Android application online. Once apps are available for download via the iTunes Store or Android Market, users can update content in real time via swebapps.com. SwebApps are installed on Apple iOS and Android devices and run natively. Many of the functions available through the platform provide a better user experience than Web sites accessed via mobile browsers.
These are just a few app developers. Before building an app, it is important to consider the target audience, the goals of the app, and how much the business is willing to invest. While it may be a low priority on the investment list, remember app customers are unique. “One of the great things about a mobile app is knowing users are not passive—they sought out your app or your brand and were interested enough to download it,” says Bagoy.
We reside in a changed world. Is it possible that the mass consumer’s quest for instantaneous knowledge actually succeeds the amount of available information? Not likely. However, the way information is consumed has changed. Businesses that don’t adopt these channels—such as mobile apps—on both the receiving and outputting end of the spectrum are sure to be left behind.