As technology and business leaders, many of us have been part of a decision around building new technology solutions to create new services or products. In this mobile-first era, one of the first questions you are challenged with is – do we need an App for that? Or can this service or product can utilize just the mobile web version?
We all wish this was an easy yes or no answer. But the answer may be much simpler than you think. There are 3 main criteria you need to consider that will help you make the decision.
#1 – App feature set
If your product needs built-in phone features like GPS, Accelerometer, Contacts, Push Notification, etc., then you will need to build an app. From the technological advancement with HTML5, some of the phone features can be accessed so you may be able to get away with only a mobile web version. You will need to research the specific feature set requirements with what is possible to do within HTML5.
If the answer is – yes, I have to use phone features that are not available through HTML5, then your decision is made, no need to read further!
#2 – Audience
Just because a customer downloaded your app does not mean that they will be using the app for life, or even at all. The data shows that people actively use only 5-7 apps in a given month. Unless there is a compelling need for the users to download the app, they will not.
Again, your answer here will determine what direction you take.
#3 – Resources
Since you have read it this far, the assumption is that the decision is still pending. Developing a mobile app is a skillset that not all developers hold. You should carefully evaluate the resources at your disposal in making the decision. Not only do you have to build an app (possibly on multiple platforms – iOS, Android, Windows), but you also must manage and maintain it. You should consider the total cost of ownership as you make this decision.
In conclusion, whether you build an app or not, you will need to develop a solution that is mobile responsive at the least.