To app or not to app, that is the question facing businesses both large and small in 2013. Certainly, there are many reasons to abstain from the current app war going on in the digital marketplace. For one, app development isn't cheap. And for businesses that have outdated websites, those marketing dollars may be better spent in developing a new website that utilizes responsive web design and can be utilized easily, no matter what device the user employs. Plus, once an app is built, it must be publicized or else no one will know about it. Especially for small businesses, this uncharted territory can be murky and scary.
If you do decide an app is right for you, though, you should ask yourself a few questions as you begin the development.
What does this app do for the user? If you have clients or customers, they will need to benefit from the app in some way or else there will be no reason for them to download it.
What does the app do for the user that isn't complicated? Okay, it's worth noting that beyond being useful, an app almost always should be fairly simple in concept. If it starts to get complicated, you're losing your user. Remember: people are sitting on the subway or in traffic toggling around on a smartphone. Don't ask them to get too crazy.
What does this app do for your business? Building an app just because it's cool is fine if you have lots of extra cash, but most businesses need to watch the bottom line. If the app is cool enough to generate a buzz or at least engender increased brand loyalty, that may be enough to justify its creation. What is even better, though, is an app that creates revenue in some way. Even if it just makes it easier to sell, you're potentially grabbing sales that may otherwise walk. Don't forget to include your own interests in the app creation equation.
Finally, try to build a local awareness into it. Assume the customer is on the move. Can you bring the customer to where you are? Can you inform the customer about something near his/her present location? Can you place all of this in an environment plugged into social media outlets?
Serious app development remains in its infancy stage. The importance is growing, and the best approach is a moving target, affected by technological innovation and consumer habits. For all of these reasons, simple apps are recommended to most businesses. Keep in mind, all of this is going to change in a few years (tops), anyway. Take the plunge, realizing it will be a learning experience that helps keep your company relevant in some rather fast-evolving consumer marketplace times.