Do You Need An App, or a Responsive Website?

Here’s the thing. Apps have become “trendy”.

There is a field of thought that says every company needs an app, or that you’re behind the times if you don’t have one.

This is not the case, sometimes what you really need is a website.

That said, apps absolutely serve a purpose and are incredibly useful and profitable when approached the right way and for the right reasons.

But, let’s not create another app just for the sake of having an app. Before making the investment, you want to be sure you have a good business case for it.

Here’s When an App Makes Sense

  • Your app will interact with external hardware, such as anything IoT, beacons, or a product your company manufactures. Examples: Fitbit, baby monitor apps.
  • You provide a service that needs to be accessible when the user does not have Internet access. Examples: airline apps, e-readers.
  • Part of the value you provide is in push notifications. Examples: Twitter, Email.
  • You are a service provider with a very large customer base that would use your app regularly to pay bills, view usage history, receive reminders. Example: utility company apps.
  • Your audience will use your service at least somewhat regularly, and therefore, having an app on their phone is very convenient. Examples: Yelp, Groupon, Meetup.
  • Your users are very likely to need your service often, and while on the go. Examples: Uber, trip planning apps.
  • Part of the value you provide is in gathering data from the device even when the app isn’t being used. In other words, it runs in the background. Examples: location tracking apps, virus detection apps, pedometers.
  • Shopping lends itself well to the app format. An app installed on your customers’ phone makes it as easy as clicking the icon to shop your brand. A responsive website also works, but having a separate app allows you to design very specifically for mobile, and take advantage of phone features, such as push notifications. Examples: Amazon, Zappos.

An app is not a good fit if you don’t have a healthy budget to build it and maintain it.

Dollar SignA survey by Clutch, of a dozen mobile app development firms, found the median cost range of an app is between $25,000 and $171,000. Depending, of course, on the complexity of the app.

If your budget is less than 10 or 15 thousand you should not have an app developed.

Don’t Build an App Simply as a Way to “Get Found”

If your organization is considering an app as a way to “get found”, or merely to provide content that the user would not need repeat access to, I’d urge you to consider a website.

Websites get found on Google and Google is the place we go to seek out information. If I’m looking for a Intellectual Property lawyer in Tampa I will go to Google. I will not seek out and download an app to search for something I only need once.


Do You Need an App or Responsive Website” was originally published on the Big Fish Digital blog. Reprinted with permission.