Inside: Building an App for Your Business. What Exactly Do You Need?

building_app(Ping! Zine Issue 73) – The world has become an extremely mobile place for businesses. This means new techniques have to be employed to ensure consumers can be reached anywhere and at any time. With billions of people across the world having smartphones, the obvious place for companies to reach their customers is via their cell phones. Whilst firms could once rely on potential customers searching them out on the Internet, it is now crucial to heighten the consumer’s experience, not only by optimizing websites for cell phone use, but by creating custom and downloadable apps that provide a variety of tools right at their fingertips. Though this might seem a complex area to enter, given the right tools and experts, companies can develop apps that benefit both the customer and the business.

Many senior managers might wonder why they need a business app. After all, they already have an online portal, a mobile optimized website, a call center and are actively engaged with customers on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. So, why is a business app needed? There are many reasons why having an app can be advantageous. Largely, it is about making it easy for customers to engage with businesses, utilize services and get the jobs they need done completed quickly and efficiently. For example, mobile banking can be difficult if customers have to navigate to a website on their small cell phone screen, input login codes and passwords and then proceed through complex drop-down menus and buttons just to get one simple task done. Conversely, life is made a lot easier if it is possible to simply log straight into a business app where care has been taken to streamline services and make process chains as short and easy to use as possible.

Mobile apps also have the advantage that businesses can see how many downloads they are getting and whether specific apps are being well received. There is also the option for targeted marketing to loyal consumers. Though advertising can be placed on a website, it may not be as effective as if it’s put within a business app so that current consumers already using such services are alerted to upgrades and other features available.

For many executives, the thought of going into the app development business can be extremely daunting. Professional programming expertise is required to develop the best apps, and there are many independent development houses, such as Worry Free Labs, who are on hand to help. By working with these experts, businesses ensure their investment is going to be handled as efficiently as possible and that at the end of the process, they will have an app to be proud of, rather than a service that is clunky to use and not at all user-friendly.

Whilst an independent development house will build an app, the individual company owner or manager has to sit down and think thoroughly about what they want to achieve. The planning phase is crucial if an app is to be a success. At the outset, just four or five features should be included in order to achieve a rapid implementation process and allow users to become used to working with an app before extra services are added. One of the most important aspects is that an app must be kept concise and functional; definitions must be kept actionable too. For example, executives should develop specific features such as consumers being able to schedule service appointments via the app, rather than open-ended goals. One of the best ways to plan an app is write a list of services to be supplied to customers and then prioritize them. The four at the top of the list should be the ones initially included in the app. They should not only make a customer’s life easier, but also provide benefits for the company. For example, scheduling appointments on the app not only makes it simple for its customers, it also reduces workload for company administrators.

Building a business app does not have to be difficult, and as long as the most appropriate team is brought on board to actually build the software the entire process can actually be quite enjoyable. By carefully selecting four or five features to provide customers with, an app can be honed into a concise and usable device that offers advantages for all. When designed and implemented correctly, an app can enhance business branding and enable customers to be reached within only a few clicks of a button. For companies that wish to appear innovative and on-trend, having a business app is essential.

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