Apps are about Usability: What does your Customer need?
Mobile apps today are among the most useful tools in business. Their capacity to build connections with customers is incomparable. From banking to grocery shopping, from work to school—apps are taking over.
Mobile users, according to Comscore, spend 90% of their time on apps and only 10% use the web. Studies estimate that mobile apps are going to generate a revenue of 935.2 billion USD by 2023. That’s why a mobile app might become a smart investment for your business.
Need of the hour – Do you really need an app?
There are several reasons why you might need a mobile app. Mobile notifications can interact directly with customers and keep them updated. Mobile apps are better at improving customer retention than websites. Developing a mobile app for business lets you have the opportunity to reach potential new audiences. Among other advantages, businesses use apps to make them stand out from the rest. Apps are relevant today—they are trending. So, whoever can get on this bandwagon is determined to get ahead of their competition.
Apps often become a great place to create and cultivate a customer community. When customers have a reason, they keep returning to the app. They can provide valuable data and insight that can be transformed into actionable changes. On the other hand, customer communities are also created in other places around the internet. Useful input and advice can be found on websites such as Reddit, Quora or Instagram. Many brands make themselves available on these platforms. However, mobile apps provide brands better insight into useful customer information that helps with cultivating user-generated content.
Android and iOS are extremely popular, so most apps are developed for either or both. The most decisive issue happens before the app development stage. This is where the first roadblock appears: should you go native or hybrid?
What’s in the name – Native vs Hybrid
Native apps are designed for a specific platform. Every integration is made specifically for the platform it is supposed to run on. They are created using a particular Integrated Development Environment (IDE). The major platforms give developers their own tools that can be applied to create native apps.
Since native apps are made for particular platforms, the features are meant to satisfy users on that platform alone. This ensures user satisfaction. Native apps are safer and also perform better.
But native apps are expensive and time-consuming, so what’s the alternative if you don’t have the budget or time?
The answer is hybrid apps (also known as cross-platform apps), which is a feature that allows developers to create apps for both platforms. When it comes to hybrid apps, developers have to create an app that runs on both Android and iOS platforms and resembles a native app.
Developers have to work double the amount for native apps. Hybrid apps save a lot of effort and time during development. Both iOS and Android have a massive customer base, so a successful hybrid app means a wider audience. The single codebase for hybrid apps makes it easier to develop and launch.
Cross-platform apps’ biggest benefit is also their biggest downfall. Since the codes and features are not meant for one particular platform, it means that the app can’t take complete control as a native app can. A hybrid app, for instance, can’t make use of all Android features because it’s meant to run on both iOS and Android.
Even when they are faster and easier, performance can be sluggish. Hybrid app codes are complicated and as mentioned before, they can’t perform as well on one platform as the other.
For a better experience, native apps are the best choice. A good example of this is Yelp where users can send listings through iMessage. Obviously, the disadvantage here is that you would need two different versions for iOS and Android if you want to reach a more extended audience.
To target a wider audience, hybrid apps are the way to go. Hybrid apps come with both native app and website benefits. Since it’s designed to be cross-platform, you can reach iOS, Android and web audiences in a single development cycle.
If you already have a comprehensive website and it can provide almost everything an app can, then a hybrid app can be the best option. It reduces costs and syncs with your current website quickly. However, since hybrid apps are made in a short period of time, they can feel incomplete on one platform and that can bring down the user experience exponentially. Additionally, if you have a good website, the app doesn’t add much to your business. The users won’t have an incentive to download the app. So, in the end, you have to consider which is the more cost-effective way of offering value to your customers.