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Getting started with mobile apps

Once you decide to use mobile apps as part of your business, and which technical platform your users are most likely to use, you can get started on the design and development.

Options to introduce an app include:

  • working with a technical development partner
  • employing or contracting an app developer
  • doing it yourself from scratch
  • adapting an established framework
  • sharing existing apps
  • advertising on other apps.

While cost is an important consideration, quality in the eyes of the user is also important. Some experts suggest that it is better not to develop an app than to create something on the cheap that is disappointing for users and reflects badly on your business.

Working with a technical development partner

Some app development firms work in partnership with content experts to jointly develop apps. For example, a US-based app development company that specialises in travel guides creates the software to present content developed by writers who successfully pitch an idea for a guide. The writer and the development firm share sales proceeds from the resulting app.

Employing or contracting an app developer

You can employ a technical expert to develop your app in-house, freelance or through an agency. Most small to medium businesses won't employ someone specifically to develop apps, although you may have an IT or web expert on staff who could add this function to their role.

If you are planning to outsource your app development, you can find a developer online or ask for recommendations from others. There are a number of online directories that list freelance developers and agencies. Some developers focus on particular industries or types of apps.

If you go down this path make sure you have contracts and agreements in place to clarify pricing and contracting arrangements, protect your intellectual property and make expectations clear for both parties.

DIY app development

Businesses can use a number of do-it-yourself app development tools and software to develop simple apps. These programs are designed to be used by people who are reasonably tech-savvy but not experts. A web search will reveal development tools that might work for you. If you are considering this option, it's worth factoring in time and staff costs, and being sure you have thought through your concept really well.

Adapting an off-the-shelf framework

An apps development firm may be able to help you adapt an existing framework to create an app that works for your business, particularly for business functions like point-of-sale systems or stock management and data access.

Sharing existing apps

An affordable way to join the app revolution is simply to link your customers, staff or other audiences with an app that is already available. Examples might include a beauty salon linking customers with a free to download mirror app that turns their smartphone into a mirror for applying cosmetics. Similarly, a travel agency might link customers with a currency conversion app.

Advertising on apps

Some free apps carry advertising. You might decide an easy entry into the world of apps is to advertise on other people's apps that are relevant to your business. Your marketing adviser should be able to help you explore this option to find apps that have a good fit with your business.

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