Boldly going forward
That said, the argument for building an app is compelling. Mainly it relates to the way todays phones are designed. An app gives you much more presence on the phone than a bookmark on that phones browser does. Rather than forcing the user to launch the browser and find your URL, an app is always there, front and center on the mobile desktop. Your business is constantly in mind, whether the person is using the app or not. The goal, of course, is that eventually that user will hit your icon (even if by accident). That kind of thing just doesnt happen with mobile websites. A ComScore study recently confirmed that 82% of mobile media minutes are spent with apps instead of with the browser.
The other key advantage of mobile apps: Your mobile-friendly website cant really do anything extra that your regular website cant also do. Mobile sites are generally streamlined versions of the site you already have; the functionality is the same. But apps can be designed to do anything. Want to turn your businesss products into a video game or push notifications to customers? Build an app, not a mobile website.
Sarah Hudson of invention-development company Little Idea puts it simply, saying, As for whether or not SMBs should develop their own apps, we think they should, but only if there's a true use for the appsomething that goes beyond the information you can find on their website. If it's purely informational, it might be better to focus on a mobile website instead.
Of course, many companies hedge their bets and do both, if budgets allow. One common strategy is to use analytics tools to measure how many users are accessing the website via mobile OSs: When a critical mass of Apple or Android users begins arriving, start working on an app for that OS.
Does an app really make sense?
Although claiming that apps are great for everyone isnt prudent, more and more small businesses are deciding that apps make sense. Their reasons are varied and compelling. They want to be able to reach customers 24/7, instead of just when customers are at a computer or in the store. They want to keep up with the competition, or they want to tap into new sales channels. Or perhaps they want to streamline the way an internal process worksremember, not every app has to be customer-facing. (More on that topic later.)