Are You Appy?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

There are many questions that come up when deciding on what type of mobile solution is needed for an organization. I’m not going to cover them all or else I’d be writing a novel.

The question I want to cover is whether to app or not. What I mean by this is the two major options for covering people who use a mobile device, either through a mobile app or through a mobile website.

I think the deciding factor for which one you go for is fairly easy in most cases, but it’s not always.

One question you should ask yourself is if an app is really needed. Can the requirements of an app be accomplished by other means and be more accessible to the user?

I’m going to cover the two big options which is a native mobile app and a mobile website.

Maze of OS

There are a lot of different operating systems out there and that’s not going away. Beside the big players of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android There are also a number of small guys out there such as Windows, Blackberry, and Firefox. There are probably a lot more but those are what I can think of off the top of my head.

Covering this maze of operating systems is no easy task, or cheap one. There are developer fees, difficulties in having to create your app for each operating system, and more.

Oh, you also have to know how to program or a lot of money to hire a developer for your app or pass it on to a developer who you don’t get to work very closely with.

There are a few benefits to a mobile app though.

First, mobile apps are fast, there’s no denying that it’s faster to tap an app icon than to load a website. Apps can be programmed in the operating systems native language which is a huge benefit. Facebook recently (recently being over a year ago) ditched programming their app in HTML5 for the native language of each operating system.

Second, mobile apps can work offline if that’s a need. Website can’t work offline, or if you somehow are able to make it work then its still severely limited.

What are some of the other benefits of going app?

Simple Yet Effective

No you can’t charge for the website as easily as you can an app, but then again you’re lost in the app store anyway.

I’m talking about a handy website that’s mobile friendly. They can be slow, bulky on mobile devices, and take careful planning, but you can make an effective mobile solution with a webpage.

Oh, did I mention all you need is a website, WordPress, and a responsive theme? Sure there’s more to it than that but those are the basics.

A web app can even be developed which looks and functions just like a mobile app but doesn’t need the overhead and costs.

I’m lumping in web app with webpage though I could go into detail about each of these. If you haven’t noticed this isn’t an in-depth article about them 🙂

I prefer to go the website route because I can provide a great deal of information to people across devices and it’s easy for me to keep up.

Deciding

As an organization looking to develop a mobile friendly website, web app, or mobile app, there’s more to consider than when I have to decide how to show my work and create a presence online.

In fact there’s almost nothing the same.

Some of the questions I’d ask are:

  • Does it need to be accessed offline?
  • Is it external facing or internal?
  • What devices are the users using?
  • Should it be available on a desktop also?
  • Do you have resources to develop a mobile app?
  • Can you meet your goal with a website?
  • If not with a website, can you meet your goal with a web app?
  • If not a website or web app, can you meet your goal with a mobile app? (yes, actually ask that question)
  • Do you need to take advantage of special mobile affordances? (gyroscope etc.)

I’d love to hear from you what questions you’d ask. Every situation is unique but this is a good basis for questions that should be asked.

When I need to get access to information through my organization, it doesn’t ever have to be from an app unless it has to be. Most of the time I’d be perfectly happy opening up my browser and typing in intranet.company.com and searching for the information I need.

I have 260 apps on my phone as of today and I don’t need another app unless necessary (or if it’s so well made I have to download it).

I have a few questions I’m interested in hearing about:

How do you prefer to access information in your organization?

Does your organization have any applications for internal employees?