Depending on the product or service you're offering, a mobile app could be a great investment for your business, as it can provide added value to your customers and potentially expand your reach to an entirely new audience. But developing a functional and user-friendly mobile app requires a combination of vision, careful planning and solid design skills and, unfortunately, not every business succeeds in creating apps that work as intended.
To help, these seven entrepreneurs list some of the key questions any company should ask itself before deciding whether to build a mobile app.
What is the goal?
The most important thing a company should determine before designing a mobile app is whether there is a clear goal that the app is intended to accomplish, insists Matthew Podolsky, founder of Florida Law Advisers, P.A.: "Simply creating an app for the sake of it will not be beneficial."
Once the goal and the mission of the app are identified, development can begin. "You want the app's development to be focused on furthering its core mission," Podolsky explains. "Otherwise, it will create confusion with consumers and be a waste of valuable resources."
Can we afford it?
"Adding a mobile app to your business is not as easy as pressing a button," Bell + Ivy co-founder and president Zach Binder warns, underlining that creating a mobile app and making sure it works as intended takes time, manpower and a fair amount of money.
"Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you can afford it. Will delegating money to an app truly be beneficial to your business, or would that money serve better elsewhere," Binder adds.
Who are our customers?
Another crucial element to consider before creating an app is who your customers are and whether they are interested in using an app instead of going to your website, says Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms.
"If your customers are mostly between the ages of 18-35, they'll typically prefer using an app over visiting a website. But if your customers are a bit older, they might not be interested in an app at all," Wells explains. "Determine who your customers are and how mobile-oriented they are to find out if a mobile app is right for you."
Is this core to my business?
Target audience aside, businesses also need to determine if building an app truly makes sense for their brand at that specific moment in time, according to KWK Studio founder Kasey Kaplan: "One thing I always ask myself and the clients I work with when they want to expand their offering is whether it's core to the business."
Kaplan believes companies need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of offering new tech solutions before jumping into something they'll regret later on. "Oftentimes, non-tech-focused companies underestimate the cost and effort to introduce a high-quality app solution, and in most cases if you can't do it well, it might be better to hold off."
How long will the process take?
Depending on its size and scope, a mobile app could take a long time to complete and test, so businesses should plan accordingly, thinks LTVPlus CEO David Henzel.
"You need to think about your mobile app design and whether new features will launch on your website while the app is in development," Henzel explains. "If so, are you ready to bring these new features to the app on launch day? You need to sync your project time with your product schedule."
Do I have enough employees?
In addition, companies should also consider the staff required for creating a mobile app, in terms of designers, developers, testers and more, says WPBeginner co-founder Syed Balkhi.
"If you are short-staffed, ask yourself if you have the funds to hire a team that will create a stunning mobile application. This question is helpful because it gives you an opportunity to create a development plan," Balkhi recommends.
Will it provide a positive UX?
"The most important element of going mobile for a business is the type of user experience (UX) it will provide customers," Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights, chimes in.
According to Christoff, if a company cannot properly optimize for mobile, it's better off leaving that aspect out of its marketing strategy. "It's better not to flop at all than to provide a less-than-stellar experience. People expect the most when it comes to mobile, so there's no wiggle room for error," he adds.