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As more and more mobile smart phones can be purchased, the buzz around mobile apps gets ever louder. So, every business should rush out and acquire a mobile app developed - right? Not.
The low-down on mobile phone applications and mobile websites.
Why don't we get the definitions off the beaten track. Mobile apps are basically small applications that you download and are powered by your feature phone or smart phone. An app will run locally on your handset and may or might not access services online to update and refresh this content that's displayed. On the other hand, a mobile website is basically a slimmed down type of a normal website that's optimised for that smaller display area that's conventional feature phones and mobile phones. Mobile websites are usually accessed via a browser application on the handset.
Which one do i need to choose for my business?
Well, first off, mobile apps are cool and due to the Apple iPhone and Operating system app stores, these are easier than ever to access and download. You need to develop a different version of your app per major mobile main system though - about 4 to 5 of those at the moment.
However, a properly designed mobile website can be viewed on pretty much any mobile that has web access. You can not do as much together as you could having an app though, simply because they rely on web technologies and have access to all the fancy built-in-features an app running natively on your handset will have - stuff like the camera, GPS module, address book. There's always a catch.
The most suitable choice will depend on your business. We can not give you the answer, but we could hopefully give you some advice before you go spending any one of that critical marketing budget. Overlook the hype, forget about the cool factor, and consider the following important points before you make your decision - Need. Audience. Budget.
Do I really need a mobile app or mobile website?
Prior to starting out, it's worth listing your list of reasons for creating a mobile app or mobile website for your business. Think about what you wish to achieve and what you need your product to do.
Have you been trying to create a potential new revenue stream? Looking for new ways to advertise your business? Are you targeting other businesses or consumers? How can customers access your overall products and services? Will your product display interactive content or could it be used as a static information portal? The frequency of which will you be updating content? What type of content will you be displaying? Is the product fun or unique? Could it always require internet connection?
We could go on and on but ultimately it isn't really a question of regardless of whether you need a mobile app or mobile website. Rather, it's about what is best for your organization and we can only give some guidelines.
If you don't already have a website or are in the middle of building one, ask internet developers to build it such that it will be optmised for mobile. It might require an extra outlay and definitely will be less costly than starting from scratch.
If your existing website is relatively static but wish to enhance your online presence and get the benefits of mobile advertising, think about mobile website. Site visitors coming from mobile ad clicks will receive good first impression of your business when they are presented with easily readable information formatted nicely for their mobile phone.
If your product is for fun, is highly interactive, is intended as a standalone advertising tool or revenue generator, is designed to be used offline, or requires users to regularly access large video or media files in all probability it makes more sense to go down the mobile app route.
Who are the audience for my mobile app or mobile website?
If we talk about audience, we are referring to two very separate ideas - the mark market for your business as well as the overall set of folks that can actually access mobile phone applications and mobile optimised websites.
To start with, think about your existing subscriber base and how they currently communicate with your business through your website, Nourishes, Facebook pages, and LinkedIn profile. Since smartphone's will only become more and much more prevalent, a mobile app or website will provide you with a good platform to construct on existing customer relationships and extend easy reach to a population that's becoming increasingly mobile.
If your main aim would be to increase your profile and presence inside the mobile space, it's a good idea to start off by taking benefit from existing technologies. If popular bands are using Facebook on their mobile and click a link on your Fanpage for more information, its a good bet that unless your page loads using some seconds and displays well, they'll give up and go somewhere else pretty fast. Main point here - best to make certain any pages you connect to from your social media sites load quickly, display relevant information, and look good on mobile.
The main benefit of a mobile website is it's large audience reach. A website that is properly optimised for mobile should display well for the majority of feature phones and smartphones that are web-enabled. However, when you move into the realm of apps, things become a whole lot different. Since apps mostly are confined to smart phones, your target market is narrowed to the phones or platform(s) you is designed to run on and the percentage of people actively using each platform.
Our main advice for your requirements here is before going along the app route, look at the size of your own potential business audience and pay attention to how many of them are using the 5 major mobile phone operating systems: iOS (iPhone), Android, Blackberry OS, Symbian (Nokia), and Windows. By doing this, you will get a good sense of how many versions of an app you should potentially develop.
The amount should I budget for a mobile app or mobile website?
Answer: Just how long is a piece of string? There really isn' easy answer to this. It'll come down to exactly what you need to achieve and what you need your site or app as a way to do and ultimately individual preference get to do it. It could be unfair to even give guide prices but what we can say is that any prices you might be quoted should be grounded actually.
If your site is depending on WordPress or some similar website cms, there may be free or low-cost plugins available to display the pages optimised for mobile. In case your main website was built using recent technologies like xhtml and css, optimising it for mobile should not be that difficult or costly, assuming it's mostly static content. Whether or not this has more dynamic quite happy with lots of bells and whistles, avoid being tempted to just replicate each page. Limit your website to the pages that can transfer well to smaller mobile screens.
For the mobile app side, the expenses can range from hundreds to thousands, depending on the complexity with the app and the amount of platforms it will be made for. There are sites on the internet where you can create basic apps free of charge but these will typically be tied to a predefined group of templates that allow minimal modifications. Some may also charge for hosting content which is something to watch out for.