Should you spend money on building a new native mobile app for your business? We all know that mobile apps are expensive. There are also a couple of other options you consider.
Instead of making a separate native application, you could make your website responsive. The main benefit being that you will save a lot of time and money in development.
Search Engine Friendly
Search engines can find your content on a website, unlike a mobile application. If you expect to have a lot of visitors coming from Google this is an important point to remember.
Cheaper and Faster to Build
Websites are also significantly cheaper and faster to build than a native app. You only have to build one website instead of multiple native apps.
Progressive Web App
Progressive web apps (PWA) are an extension of the responsive website. Which means they have all the same benefits of a website. Using newer technologies added to browsers you can also make your site feel more like an app. The new techniques will add some time and cost, but nowhere near as much as a native app.
You can save data on the user’s device. This means that your app can work even when not connected to the internet. This also means the app can be faster to load making it feel more like a native app.
No Download Required
Users also don’t have to interrupt their flow to download your mobile app. While browsing your site they can choose to add your app icon to their home screen. You also don’t have to worry about customers deleting your app if they run low on storage space.
Limited Push Notifications
Push notifications are one feature that many companies want in their mobile app. Unfortunately at this time push notifications for a PWA only work on Android. Apple currently doesn’t support push notifications.
Improving over Time
You can expect that the abilities of a PWA will only improve over time. For example, recent standards have provided a path for fingerprint authentication. A feature that used to be in the native only category.
You can also bundle your website into a native application. You put your website inside of a native container that can be published in the app store.
If done well this can be a fairly inexpensive way to provide a mobile app for your users. However, your users might not like it if your app feels like a website. Adding things like transitions can help.
Hybrid apps do give you the ability to fully support push notifications. Since most companies will want to use this feature, hybrid apps can be more compelling.
Native applications give you the most flexibility at the highest cost. You can leverage everything the mobile applications provide.
Native applications can have the best performance of any of these options. I say can, because a poorly written native app could be worse than an amazing web app.
If your customers expect silky smooth transitions, you should consider a native app. If your customers care more about functionality, then performance might not matter.
Native applications will cost the most to develop. You also need to remember that you will have to build the app twice. Once for Android and once for iOS. You might even have 3 applications if you plan to have a web version.
That means that every new feature will have to be implemented 2 or 3 times. You’ll probably need a budget of at least $150,000 to get a mobile app you’re happy with.
The app store can provide some discoverability benefits. People are used to searching through the app store and might look for your company there.
Some users might be turned off by having to download an app if they don’t interact with you very often.
What should you build?
As always the answer is it depends. What do your customers want? Will a mobile app increase your revenue?
Listen carefully if your customers are telling you they want a mobile app. Do they need an app or do they need a mobile-friendly option? A doctor wouldn’t let a patient decide if they needed surgery. You need to listen to the symptoms and determine what the best resolution is.
Why not start with a responsive site. Most businesses are going to have a website that has all the features of their mobile app. So, in that case, why not start with a responsive site and see how it works.