Appnology

We help businesses use information and  technology  to find new customers, to give great customer experiences and to be more efficient.

Tel: 0845 527 7057

Contact us now for a no-cost, no-nonsense, no-obligation chat and find out how to grow your business on-line.

Advice for small businesses:  How mobile apps can grow your business

Why is a custom mobile app good for your business?

 

In a relatively short period of time mobile devices have transformed our digital world.

 

They are now used for work, entertainment, searching the web, education, banking, shopping, navigation and many more activities.

 

For many, mobile devices are the ones they prefer to use for those activities.  For example, Facebook has 1.18 billion daily active users with 1.09 billion of them accessing from mobile devices.

 

Two-thirds of the U.K. population (i.e. 65 million people) now own a smart phone and use their mobiles for nearly two hours per day, with 64 per cent of that time spent in mobile apps.

 

Small and medium-sized businesses, who don't have the same size budgets or resources as their larger counterparts, can now use mobile apps to get ahead of their competitors by using mobile apps to revolutionise their customer interactions, manage employees better and condense time consuming tasks or collection of valuable data into a few effortless clicks.

 

More and more businesses are realising that mobile is an essential part of growing your business - so don't get left behind!

 

For your customers. A mobile app can provide a unique and rich experience. Unlike a website, a mobile app can work without a network connection and interact with the mobile device internal sensors (e.g. touch-screen, motion, camera, microphone, GPS, biometrics) to collect information about customer preferences and behaviours. Information collected from a mobile app can lead to better monitoring of marketing activities and enable offering of discounts and coupons tailored to a particular customer’s behaviour.

 

For your brand and products. Promotions can be easier, cheaper and more effective with your own mobile app - because you don't compete for advertising spaces/ slots in your own app. Interaction rates for mobile push notifications are around 90% so the probability that your promotional messages will be seen is much higher than with other posts e.g. Facebook posts where typically only 10-15% of subscribers will see your message.

 

For your employees. Your mobile app can be integrated with other business systems to create internal efficiencies and productivity gains, pulling information from databases into an intuitive interface that is optimised for usability and collecting/ validating data with just a few effortless clicks.

 

Are mobile apps secure? All the data in a mobile app can be securely encrypted and stored on the device or synchronised with a remote data store. Access to the app and its data can be protected by user-id, passwords and biometric identification such as fingerprint recognition. Should a device ever become lost or stolen, the app and its data can be remotely wiped. For a variety of reasons IOS apps tend to be more secure than Android apps.

 

How much does an app cost to build? There are many factors that affect the cost of building an app; what type of app it is, what it does, what technologies are used, the quality of the build, the degree of bespoke graphics and animations, the type of app development contract, etc.  The cost can range from a few thousand pounds up to a hundred thousand or more. You will avoid costly mistakes by choosing an app development partner with substantial knowledge and several years experience. Low offshore app development rates can be enticing but where there are cultural and language differences there is greater potential for costly misunderstandings and they generally have a higher management overhead.

 

At Appnology we have 25+ years experience of designing and deploying business systems, websites , e-commerce systems, mobile apps and digital marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. We have been developing mobile apps since 2010 and we can help you ask all the right questions and ensure you get the answers you need.

How to create a mobile app for your business?

There is a lot more involved in making a mobile app come to life than you likely imagine!

 

What You Need To Know To Build A Website ImageResearch

 

If you have an app idea, then the first thing to do before even considering approaching a mobile app developer for advice is to make sure you have thoroughly researched your idea:

Who is your app's target user?

What devices do you want the app to run on?

What problem(s) does your app solve for your target user?

What is the potential return on investment the app will give you -by additional income, increases in efficiency, or improved uptake of a particular service?

How much would you/ your target user be prepared to pay for solving that problem for them?

Is your app idea unique? If not how many competitors will you have and why will someone choose your app versus those?

Do you have a (realistic) budget - at least several thousand pounds will be required?

Do you have your time to invest as well as your money, as you will need to be substantially involved in the process of creating the app?

Why do you think an app is the best or only solution for that problem?

Are there simpler and cheaper ways of achieving the same returns?

 

Defining and documenting your app idea

 

When you have the answers to the above questions and if you still believe the idea is worth pursuing you will need to accurately explain your app idea to a developer. App developers are not mind readers and the best way for you to describe your app is to create a visual representation which shows:

  • How many screen views the app will have.
  • How users will navigate between the views.
  • What content will be displayed on each of the views.
  • Where the data used/ created by the app will be sourced/ saved/ sent to.

The simplest and most effective method to do this is to use Post-It notes to represent each screen view with the screen layouts drawn on them and then layout all the post it notes linked by arrows to show how the user will navigate between them. You can easily edit/ replace and reposition the Post-It notes as you refine your thinking on the design.

 

It  is also useful to list and group all the various features and requirements for your app into four categories using the MoSCoW method :

  • Must haves - These are critical to the app and the app would not be viable or worth creating without these - a minimum usable subset
  • Should have features - These are important, but are not time critical for launch or could be delivered in another way to satisfy the requirement.
  • Could have features - These are desirable but not necessary and will be included only if time and costs permit.
  • Won't/ Would Like To have features - Things that are not required and features that be might be considered for later versions.

 

The  developer will look to deliver all your must have, should have and could have items but by prioritising in this way you will be in a position to remove some requirements should the cost or time scales not be acceptable and compromises need to be made.

 

Finding and choosing an app developer

 

When you have documented the design and prioritised the requirements you will be in an excellent position to contact  a developer.

 

You can find app developers located all around the world. Unless you are experienced and knowledgeable in dealing with software developers and businesses overseas then you should choose a local developer operating in your time zone and language. Good quality, frequent and timely communications are critical during the development stage and any misunderstandings due to language and cultural differences or delays in communications will be costly.

 

If you are concerned about protecting your app idea then you should ask the developer to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before entering into any discussions with them. You can get a NDA template here.

 

Select a few app developers to have initial discussions with and choose the one who gives you the best advice, you feel is the most knowledgeable and you are most comfortable working with.

 

Contracts

 

Before entering into a contract with your chosen developer make sure that you understand exactly what you are signing and what you will be  getting.

 

Contracts to develop an app are usually either time based or fixed fee based.

 

With a fixed fee based model you pay the developer an agreed amount for delivering either the whole project or a specific component of the project.

 

With a time based model you pay the developer a daily/ weekly rate for the time they spend working on the project.

 

A time based model can be risky because the costs are open ended, but a developer is unlikely to agree a fixed fee contract if the app design isn't well defined and likely to change - at least not without adding substantial contingency amounts and caveats to allow for such risks.

 

When entering into a time based contract, be certain that your developer is proficient in all the skills needed - so that you are not paying for them to learn on the job. Also ensure you have clearly defined deliverables and milestones for the project and that you have your own time available so that any questions or issues raised by your developer are thoroughly thought through and responded to promptly.

 

The contract should also specify who owns  the intellectual property rights and source code, where the source code will be kept, how any disputes will be resolved, on-going support costs and service levels and that you will have access to the source code should the developer go out of business.

 

Types of app

 

You should be sure what kind of app the developer will build for you as there are different types of mobile apps - native, hybrid and web.

 

The different app types have differing costs and benefits.

 

Native apps are what typically springs to mind when you think of an app.

You download them from the App Store or Google Play, they sit within your device’s applications and you launch them by tapping their icon.

They are designed and coded for a specific type of device and different device types use different technology sets  - iPhone apps use the the IOS operating systems are programmed using Objective-C or Swift programming languages, Android apps use the Android operating system and are programmed using the Java programming language, Windows apps use the Windows mobile operating system and are programmed using the C# programming language.

Each technology uses different tools and has different ways of delivering similar functions/ features.

To develop native apps to run on all the different types of device available is therefore a costly process - because the app has to be built multiple times in different ways by different teams with different skill sets.

Native apps offer the best user experience with the fastest, most reliable and most responsive experience, tapping into the wider functionality of the device such as  the camera, microphone, compass, motion sensor, GPS and gesture recognizers.

Native apps respect the hundreds of small differences in the design of user interactions on each platform, are intuitive to use and integrate well with other apps on the device to delight your users.

 

Web apps are mobile versions’ of a website designed to look and behave like apps and they load within a mobile browser, like Safari or Chrome.

Your audience doesn’t have to install a web app and have space available on their device.

Because they are not installed on the device and integrated into the device operating system they are limited in what device features they can use. They generally require an Internet connection to work and are slower and less intuitive.

Developing a web app to run on a broad range of devices is simpler, quicker and cheaper than to develop all the corresponding native app versions as only one design is needed, but the trade off is that it won’t look or behave like a native app on any of them.

 

Hybrid apps are a combination of native and web apps.

They are developed with software tools that combine the technologies used to develop web apps with the technologies used for native apps.

Hybrid apps can be installed on and tap into the devices camera, sensors, etc. They can operate without a network connection and have the benefit of a simpler code base than is necessary for native apps running on different technology sets, making them quicker and cheaper to develop.

However, the resulting single design and development technology generally makes them run slower than native apps and an app that is built to look and feel like an Apple (IOS) app will be unfamiliar to an Android or Windows device user and vice versa.

 

Different developers have differing views on what is the best type of mobile app technology, often following their own areas of expertise.

 

Design

 

When you have agreed your contractual terms, the next phase of creating the app will be to produce a detailed design - fleshing out your initial visual representation with detailed artwork, text, logos, colour schemes and dimensions.

 

Your app will need to have multiple layouts for each screen to cover all the different screen sizes and orientations.

 

For apps that are to run on devices with different operating systems (e.g. Apple(IOS), Android, Microsoft Windows, etc.) each device/ operating system has its own conventions and will need a separate design.

 

A data model will  be needed to describe  all the different data elements in the app, their data types (dates, numbers, images, text strings, etc.) and the relationships between them.

 

With a detailed design any app developer should be able to provide you with an accurate estimate of the development, testing and deployment  time scales and costs.

 

Development

 

This is the stage where the app comes to life.

 

 You will need to have regular reviews with the developer to check on progress and be available to answer any questions as they  arise.

 

Mistakes made at this stage of the project due to invalid assumptions, or different interpretations of the design documents, can be very costly so the sooner they are flushed out the better for everyone.

 

Testing

 

Once the app has been built it will need to be tested to ensure that it performs as expected in different environments and conditions e.g. different device manufacturer and operating system combinations, all device orientations, slow or broken network connections, data errors, missing data, etc. It is pretty much impossible to test for every possibility though as there are hundreds of thousands of device/operating system pairings.

 

Many aspects of the app testing can be automated but some end user testing will be required so you should decide who is going to test and confirm that the app works as designed and expected.

 

Deployment

 

The testing and deployment phases are often overlooked, but they do need to be planned and sufficient time allowed for them in the project schedule.

 

If the app is to be published to an app store then the app will need to be submitted for review and may require changes to be made  before it is accepted. Each review of the app  can take several days and may require further development work and testing. It can be days or weeks after the initial development and testing before an app is finally available for download on an app store.

 

If the app is to be used internally and is not being published on an app store, then the devices used to run the app within an organisation may need to be purchased and prepared for use before the app can be deployed to them. This may take longer than expected if the devices are not all available when needed or problems arise with individual devices.

 

If the users are your employees they may need training and you may need to issue clear guidelines/policies regarding the app/ device use e.g. to prohibit use whilst driving and inappropriate use.

 

Post deployment support

 

Once the app has been deployed this will not be the end of the process.

 

You will need to gather feed back from your users on how the app is performing and whether all features are being used as expected.

 

There will be requests for changes and enhancements that need to be prioritised and costed.

 

The app will need to be maintained to deploy bug fixes and to maintain compatibility with new device models and operating system upgrades.

 

You should therefore make sure that the on-going development and support costs are considered and included in the contract.

 

 

A bespoke mobile app for your business from Appnology can be yours from as little as £120 per month*.

(*Terms and conditions apply).

 

 

At Appnology we have the breadth and depth of experience in:

 

 website design/development,

search engine optimisation,

 search engine marketing,

display and social media marketing,

 mobile app design and development,

 e-commerce and business systems,

project management,

 

 to provide a one stop shop to meet all your business needs .

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 © Appnology Ltd 2017  |  Registered In England As A Limited Company No. 07474684

 1 Kingswood Close, Houghton Conquest, Bedford, MK45 3BE

appnology  (noun) [app-nol-uh-gee]

The creative application of technology and design knowledge for practical purposes, especially in mobile applications for  business and industry.

What You Need To Know To Build A Website Image

What You Need To Know To Build A Website Image

What You Need To Know To Build A Website Image

What You Need To Know To Build A Website Image

What You Need To Know To Build A Website Image

What You Need To Know To Build A Website Image

What You Need To Know To Build A Website Image

What You Need To Know To Build A Website Image