One of the newest and most effective ways to reach out to your consumers is through mobile applications, more commonly referred to as “apps”. This post takes the reader through the ins-and-outs of getting an app for your business so that you can make a sound decision on which development company you choose to use. Below is an explanation of the benefits of apps, what you should be paying, where you should be paying it and how to find the best developer for your business.
The Benefit of Apps
There are a number of reasons why every company with an online presence should consider having an app built for their company, including:
- Convenience: Having a mobile app that integrates directly with your website makes it easier for you and your customers to communicate information. This is particularly important if you haven’t fully optimised your website for smartphone users.
- Exposure: Those who download your app will have your logo permanently placed on their device, which is invaluable brand awareness. Regardless of downloads, just having an app in the Android and Apple marketplace will broaden your online footprint – more than you probably ever thought possible.
- A Boost in Revenue: Canalys reported as far back as June 2011 that apps will be bringing in $36.7 billion worldwide by 2015, and indications are that this was a conservative estimate. The possibility of securing a slice of those earnings is difficult to ignore. For the amount invested in developing a high quality app, most businesses will see a full ROI within 12-24 months from the day that the application hits the Android and/or Apple marketplace, especially when it is supported by a marketing plan for promoting the app.
- Better Customer Service: Apps make it easy for companies to keep their customer service lines open 24/7. Sending an “IM” (instant message) through an app is far more convenient and customer-friendly than asking a customer to leave a phone message or send an email.
What You Should be Paying
What calls out to business owners is, of course, the price factor – and the pricing disparity is immense in the mobile app industry. Why should you pay a developer $10k, $20k or $30k+ for an app when there are enticing websites offering to create an app for you for as little as $1k?
Many business owners will presume that they will get what they pay for. They just expect to pay upwards of $10k for an app that might only work for iPhone and iPad. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” right?
Not with apps! Don’t get ripped off!
There are two main reasons a company might charge you tens of thousands to develop an app and neither of them relate to quality.
The first (more pessimistic) reason is that the company knows they can take advantage of the fact that many business owners know very little about this space. That is, while many consumers are not yet aware of the high level of competition that exists between developers, some companies can get away with being uncompetitive.
The second (less controversial) reason is that the company’s expenses are too high so they simply have to charge more to make a sustainable profit. Their expenses could be high for a number of reasons, including:
- They are not developing the app in-house;
- They do not specialize in apps for your industry, or for small businesses at all, so developing an app for your business is a huge time commitment for them;
- They have had to invest a lot of money to establish credibility and build brand awareness through marketing channels; or
- They have over-spent on resources and infrastructure to obtain the capabilities to develop high quality mobile apps.
Therefore, do not assume that the company quoting you $25,000 will always produce a better app than the company charging $1,000. The former company may be overcharging you, or may have larger expenses to cover.
Don’t Look Offshore for App Development
As more businesses try to save money on app development, more cases emerge of the pitfalls of offshore outsourcing. It is always best to work with app development companies that are located close enough for you to be able to check their credentials. For instance, the “Financial Review” posted a story on 21 August 2012 about a company that paid an app developer in the United States US$8,000 to create an app within 45 days. After 6 months the app still did not meet their low expectations so they decided to cancel their app with the offshore developer and do what they could have done from the start – use an Australian development company.
Building rapport and a strong relationship with your developer is useful too. It really helps that they ‘get’ what you are trying to achieve. Conveying concepts and concerns is often difficult when you are only communicating with your developer through email. An ongoing relationship with your developer also allows for support and easy updates or changes at a later date. If your relationship ends with your developer once the app is deployed to the iTunes App Store and/or Google Play, you will be left to figure out for yourself what to do when something needs to be updated. This can cause all sorts of headaches down the track.
So How Can You Find the Best Local Development Team?
To help narrow down which app developer is right for your business, consider asking them the following questions:
- What do you charge and what do I get for that price? Although the cost of the app is an obvious question, you may only be getting an app for iPhone for that price. Ask what it would cost to create an app suitable for all platforms – iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android Mobile, Android Tablet and Mobile Web – so that you can reach everyone. Also ask if you will be getting a “native mobile app”Can you show me some apps that you have built for businesses like mine? Developers may have a great vision for your app or may have developed other great apps in the past.
- What you want is for them to demonstrate other apps that they have previously created in the same industry as your business, so that you know they can deliver on their promises.
- Do you outsource any of your app development work or have internal developers? Remember that outsourcing increases the chance of delays and can result in a product that is not a good fit for your business.
- How will you help me promote my app? There is not point having an app made for your business if people are not downloading it. Consider the value of a development team that can assist with letting people know about your app and what it offers them.
- Are there any hidden costs or extra fees that I could be charged which are not included in the price you have quoted me? If there are ongoing charges, for how long am I committed to paying them?
Your due diligence at the outset will go a long way to ensuring you receive the app that will become a vital part of your strategic marketing plan, in a cost-effective and fast way.