Whenever I tell people where I work and what Indiespring do, there’s a good chance I know what the reaction of the person I’m talking to will be. Quite often it’s something along the lines of “oh you make mobile apps? I’ve been meaning to get one of those developed for my business…”

My reaction is normally to ask this, “well do you have a website? And how does it look on mobiles?”

Here’s my thinking: the majority of web traffic is now delivered from a mobile device, and when most people come across a new company and want to check it out, their first port of call will be that companies website. Even if you have mobile apps, you should still be focusing your efforts on developing your website for mobile viewers. And if you have neither, updating the website should come first.

A dynamic site is actually a pretty simple concept. The idea is that a website is designed so that it will display differently at different sizes. For instance, instead of showing three images side by side, a dynamic site might recognise that it doesn’t have the space to do so, and so stack them on top of one another. This prevents a user from having to scroll side to side, or zoom in and out of a webpage to view its content: both of which are very bad user experiences.

 

So when do you definitely need apps? Well, there are definitely times when you do need a mobile app to deliver what you have in mind. As a rule of thumb, I would say if your app can become a product in its own right, then it is definitely a justified investment. Normally this may be the case because you need to use a smartphone’s technology to deliver something to your users, that a mobile site simply can’t. For instance, app’s can access data from the smartphone, such as the number of steps someone is taking, or create widgets with information generated by the app. Clearly if you want to build an app around this data, such as a running app, then creating a native application is the only way to go. The reason I’m writing this blog post is that, too often, people in business seem all too keen to develop an app when focusing their budget and energy on a mobile website would be a far more fruitful decision.

Think about how many people are actually likely to install the app, and use it regularly. If an e-Shop’s customers are returning regularly to make repeat purchases, or a news site’s readers are returning daily to see the latest articles, then they are probably quite likely to download an app for that site, as they see value in being able to interact with that site in a more streamlined fashion. If someone only accesses a site intermittently, or purchases form an e-Shop every few months, its far more likely they’ll simply put up with the mobile site, or wait until they’re at a computer, rather than download an app to access that site.

Another advantage of a mobile site is that you probably already have a website, and managing and maintaining that is- for some companies- a big enough challenge. Developing an iOS or Android, or even a hybrid, apps just adds to the workload of your digital marketers, especially given the ever changing nature of the smartphone world. What you develop now may need an update when a new sized device is released, or when it needs to be rewritten a few years down the line. Keeping a website running and up to date can just as big a challenge, but at least if you focus on keeping your site up to date and relevant, it will benefit both mobile and desktop users at the same time.