Posted by : Amanda Stein Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There is no doubt that apps are very popular; it looks like every company has one nowadays. There are over 750,000 of them in the IOS App store and almost as many in Google Play. So do you need one to stay competitive in your line of work, even if you are only a small business?

These are still early days but many companies believe in mobile app development. Having a site specific app that works to your exact requirements rather than something general seems worth looking into and means you’ll be in a prime position to continue to grow.

Why create an app?

Apps are really useful on a tablet or mobile phone as it presents an obvious brand or link. It is also available when you are out and about, unlike your tower computer or laptop. You can take two paths to create one. Firstly you could build a mobile optimized website. This is just a slimmed down version of your main website. 

You can do this yourself or commission one at a reasonable rate. Some Website hosts will even offer a free mobile website if you use them as your main host. There are also conversion tools online that will do the job.

Most companies develop a stand-alone app. They can be customised to do exactly what you want. It is possible to turn your app into a game for your clients or fill it with interesting articles that keep them coming back. You can add quizzes, set reminders, hit them with new product launches or just provide entertainment. 

The rule is to add value and draw them in, in a way that is more difficult on a formal website. The good points are that they have more of presence, are always there on the device and people don’t have to search around for a URL. A recent study suggested that 82% of mobile media minutes are spent on apps rather than on browsers. Apps are still seen as a kind of a game rather than a serious selling site but this could be to your advantage if you play that game well.

How much does it cost?

Unless you are good with code a personalised app is going to cost you a pretty penny to produce. There are DIY building services which allow you to create basic apps by filling in templates and there are plenty of companies who offer dedicated app building services to help you get the most for you money.
Do you get a return on your investment? 

This all depends on how you handle it. You need to constantly promote your app on your website to encourage users to download it and testing its performance will ensure all of your customers are satisfied with what you offer. It has certainly increased sales for many businesses and with the boom in mobile products it is not going to be a short lived idea.

This article was written by James Odlam, a mobile website and apps developer with more than 5 years experience in the field. He regularly posts on the benefits of mobile app development and how it can help boost sales for small businesses.

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