A couple years back we saw the explosion of mobile applications take place globally and here, in South Africa. We saw corporate entities throw millions at anything application drivenjust to secure some kind of footprint in this ecosystem irrespective of how good the actual conceptual driver behind this application may be. South African networks quickly jumped on the bandwagon by creating or sponsoring competition, trying to identify which agencies could deliver robust and conceptually strong applications. Funny enough, we were one of the first to take advantage of these app start-up scouting events, where we took pole position for both MTN Business app of the year 2012 as well as Vodacom’s Mobile Monday App search event.
Our Application was called Hiive, a nightlife portal driven by serving location based content to users and allowing them the ability to add their thoughts and pictures to that content. The content (Events) then start to trend, based on the amount of user generated content added.
My point here is that since those days we’ve seen applications gradually starting to lose much of the hype and while there is still being a big push for applications, the rational and thinking behind the functions of these apps really starting playing the key role.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve also seen the Producers of Content Management System for websites join the frey by developing future updates of the CMS to be responsive with the greatest of ease with regards to responsive nature. Responsive in the sence that you can change/edit your WordPress site on the fly and change its layout to work effortlessly on smartphones and tablets.
With all of this going we’ve seen apps slowly starting to move further down the que of importance. It’s not to say that apps became less important, it just meant that a lot more thinking would go into the conceptual development of these apps in order to justify the demand for one.
So how do you know if you really need a mobile application for your next start-up or existing digital portfolio?
Below I’ve listed some key line items that I believe justifies developing your own app:
Native functionality – Does the app need to make use of the smartphone’s native functionality? In other words would it need to use the phone’s GPS, Camera or gyroscope? Or does it need to connect with other external hardware over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or even just the USB cable? If so, then I would say yes – you do require an app.
Unique user experience – Are you looking to serve subscription (Filtered) based content to your users in a very unique way? Trying to eliminate the amount of time that your user would need to take for him or her to get what they’re looking for. Remember that even with websites being responsive now, users still need to go through many page clicks and wait much longer periods of time for these pages to load. If your answer here is yes, then once again I’d say go for it.
Push notifications – Would you like to ping your user every time something of relevance to them takes place, based on their account settings or subscriptions? Of so, then get an app built. Remember you can also serve subscription based content to a user via your website, but much of the time this takes place through the means of a newsletter or automated email which, in most cases, ends up in your user’s spam folder depending on the spam settings of that user.
Heightened Security – Are you looking to serve very sensitive based content or data to your user or maybe even allow them to transact with products or services you may be offering? Mobile applications are considerably safer than websites due to the fact that it works as its own isolated program. Things like browser hacks or key loggers generally don’t interfere with apps because of this. Also keep in mind that transacting applications store your credit card details in a very safe manner, most of the time this data is stored with the payment gateway company itself. My point here is that with your details captured, the user won’t need to enter that info every time they want to make a purchase or pay for something. Look at Uber as a perfect example of this…
If you tick just one of these requirements I’d say hold off for a bit, because there may still be some kind of work-around, but if you require two or more of these requirements then you should definitely start considering the kind of environment your product will be living in and also which kind of devices you’ll be looking to cover.
If this is you, then get in touch so that we can start guiding you in the right direction.