There are two kinds of web content in this world; that which is mobile-friendly, and that which is not. More people today access the Internet through a phone, tablet, or other device than via a desktop or laptop computer.[1]

If your business relies on mobile visitors, we strongly recommend putting a chunk of your time and resources into creating content targeted at mobile visitors. In many cases, we recommend your business develop its own mobile app[2]. After all, apps account for 89 percent of mobile media time, with the other 11 percent is spent on websites. Sure, most of that is probably games and social media sites, but shouldn’t your business try to gain some of that attention?

As business interactions become more and more technologically-based, so should the businesses. If users don’t have an excellent mobile experience, you’re likely losing potential profit. A well-made mobile app shows clients that you’re keeping with the times in a professional, fluid manner.

What is a mobile app?

According to Techopedia[3], “A mobile application, most commonly referred to as an app, is a type of application software designed to run on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet computer. Mobile applications frequently serve to provide users with similar services to those accessed on PCs.”

In other words, a mobile app transforms your business’s computer-accessible services into something more manageable and more appealing to use on a phone, tablet, or other mobile device. If you’ve ever tried to access a non-mobile-friendly website on your smartphone, you know how irritating it can be to navigate through the different pages on that tiny touchscreen. Mobile apps reinvent your business’s online services to make them more compatible with these devices.

For example, if your business is a restaurant, a mobile app could provide customers with a menu, available reservation slots, and an online takeout ordering option. If you run a veterinary office, a mobile app could act as a patient portal, giving clients access to their pets’ vaccination records, upcoming appointments, or the option to schedule a visit.

How is a Mobile App Useful?

It might be easier to answer how a mobile app isn’t useful. Mobile applications can be accessed anywhere that a person’s phone or tablet can connect to their data plan or the Internet. People can order food on the subway ride home from work, quickly check a package’s location between meetings, or shop for new shoes in the bathroom.

Keep in mind that mobile apps are different from mobile-friendly (responsive) website. A responsive web page is the same as your computer-based site but modified to suit various screen sizes. The best responsive websites also remove or add content based on the device.

A mobile app, however, will give users a more natural navigation experience and will keep your information better organized. Also, a consumer who installs a mobile app on his or her device is keeping your brand top of mind. He or she will see your icon on their screen daily. A mobile app gives you the option to send push notifications[4] to stay in touch with customers.

Mobile apps are useful because they provide your clients and customers with access to your goods and services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in any situation and any location. When designed correctly, a mobile app could become your customers’ preferred mode of online transactions rather than those completed on a computer.

What Your Mobile App Should Include

According to a Forbes survey, mobile app users want quick access to pricing information, a list of nearby business locations, and directions to those locations. Contributors also recommended having a younger pair of eyes (even your kids) review your app before making it live; younger people have plenty of mobile experience and will be able to tell you exactly what you’re missing.

Speaking of young people, try designing your app as if you’re making it for a child. In other words, keep it simple! Here is what to include:

  • Big, easy-to-see tabs and buttons – A smaller screen does not mean you need to shrink buttons; in fact, it means the opposite. If you showed grandma your app, would she know what to tap?
  • A simple, clean font – Again, is it legible on a small screen?
  • Short, spaced-out paragraphs – Anything too long will lose the reader’s interest and their business.
  • Plenty of white space – It’s easier on the eye and makes pages appear more organized.
  • Subheads and bullet points – Break information down as best you can.
  • Images – Because who doesn’t love visuals?
  • Videos – Mobile apps make content accessible on-the-go, and videos only make it easier (and more interesting than reading lengthy text). If you can integrate videos into your app, try it out! {Natalia: footnote/link to video/app blog post, but I don’t see it online.}

Most critically, your app needs an obvious use. A restaurant app may offer ordering functions, but B2B or service-based businesses may struggle to find a purpose for their app. If you’re not sure what your app will do, don’t create one “just to have it.” (Talk to us about ideas for apps.) You can spend time and money building an app “for branding,” but if no one uses it, you just wasted resources. Brainstorm something related to your business that customers will find useful.

What Your Mobile App Should NOT Include

It’s important to remember that tablets and smartphones are portable devices; they are used on-the-go, and often when people are in a rush. While someone sitting at a computer might have time to browse through your full website, someone visiting your mobile app will not. Mobile apps are also often viewed on small screens, rather than the large, open faces of laptops. These details make it vital that you customize your mobile app to be suited to the mobile device.

Your app should not be a direct copy of your website; instead, it should be a condensed, reorganized version for the intent of mobile device use. Here are some things your mobile app should not include:

  • Lengthy text areas – Get to the point and keep the user moving.
  • Lengthy online forms – If you had to fill out 20 boxes to order a pizza, would you do it?
  • Too much detail – Due to the smaller screen size available on mobile devices, less is really more. Avoid crazy background patterns or photos.
  • Lots of links – The user just got here! Why direct them away now?
  • A template app design – Besides the fact that they’re unoriginal, they’re also difficult to manage once you decide to customize them. Plus, tech-savvy users can pick out a replicated layout, and Apple has put restrictions on such apps. It’s worth the time and money to hire a mobile app team that can not only build a fantastic app, but keep it consistent with your branding.

With the right planning, your business’s mobile app can have an incredible impact on sales and business-client interaction. To get started on your app, talk to us. {Link if this is online or post


Pete Peranzo

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