Should you build an app?

Push Interactions is a custom app developer: we’ve primarily only built other people’s apps. This puts us a great position, because we deal with a huge variety of domains, ideas, concepts, and business plans. In this post, I’d like to outline four main types of apps we’ve encountered and built, and what you should know about building these kinds of apps.

 App for your company’s customers

Many companies want to provide an app for their customers, and this is the most common app we’ve built in the past. We’ve built apps in many domains, including retail, banking, and academic research. These apps are typically free, multi-platform (typically at least iOS and Android), and hosted on the app stores for anyone to download.

These kinds of apps are a great way to reach your customers, to give them an opportunity to engage with your brand and product, and gives you the ability to market directly to your customers.

When thinking about building this kind of app, there’s a few things we’ll need from you. First, we’ll need content, or ways for your users to create your content. This is the meat of your app: what exactly are users creating or consuming in your app? We’re the experts in app development, but you are the expert in your business, and we’ll need your expertise to get to know your customers (users) and their needs.

Second, most established companies have specific branding guidelines we’ll need to follow. Because our apps are completely custom based on your needs, we’ll be to sure to build the app based on your existing branding (logo, colours, fonts, etc…), or help you develop a look if you don’t have an existing brand.

Third, most of our apps integrate directly into your existing backend services. For example, if you have a website where your customers can login, we don’t want them to have to create a new account just to use the app, so we’ll integrate directly with your existing systems. Usually, this is hard, but we like these kinds of challenges because that is what makes us different than other app vendors. Instead of requiring you to change your processes to fit within our apps, we’ll build them to make sure they work with what you already have. To make this magic happen, though, we’ll need access to your IT people, hopefully the people who are actually supporting your existing backend services.

Internal company app

The second type of app are workforce automation kind of apps. These are often converting paper forms into digital forms, but this is a really limiting view of these kinds of apps. We can track the physical locations of people and equipment around a worksite. We can provide inventory tracking to managers on the road. We can help you communicate with team members in another country, or in opposite sides of the workplace. Overall, mobile-in-the-workplace is still a hugely new field, and we’re exited to be part of creating the future.

These internal processes kinds of apps are typically not hosted on any app store. Instead, they are distributed directly only to particular people in your organization. These kinds of apps are also typically only on one platform, often iPad apps, though this depends on whether you allow people to use their own devices. Most people own a smartphone/tablet, so the BYOD (bring your own device) movement is gaining traction in many workplaces. If you want to allow people to bring their own devices, then you will probably need to build the app on multiple platforms (at least Android and iOS).

Similar to apps for your customers, we build these internal apps to integrate within your current infrastructure. But don’t worry; if you don’t have any backend infrastructure, we can help with that as well. We can recommend services to host your backend infrastructure, and have specialized developers who can create the infrastructure in-house.  

A new business idea / pet project

The last type of app we see a lot are those new business ideas or pet projects individuals are looking to get going. Ones that we’ve built include a raw food preparation guide and an app for helping new parents with the first month of the newborn’s life, but we’ve seen lots of ideas over the years.

As mentioned above, we can help you create simple look and branding for completely new ideas, or can recommend one our trusted partners to create this for you.

Our team can also help you flesh out an idea. We have a good sense of what will work on the app store, what your competitors are doing, and how user (buying) behaviour can affect your business plan. Even if you’re idea is quite ready for prime time, our team can help you get there. We also provide feasibility analysis services, if you want a more in-depth look into your competitors or the technical feasibility of your idea.

Budget: don’t be scared

Regardless of the kind of app you’re building, you will need money. The apps that we build range from a few thousand to six figures, and we’re comfortable working with any size app (from a flashlight to Facebook). You should come to us with an idea of how much money you are willing to spend. And please, let us know a range! We can scale the solution based on your budget, so if you are thinking of $10,000 and we design a solution for $30,000, that’s not helping anyone. We can often cut features or scale back some of the functionality to meet your $10,000 budget, but that initial sticker shock seems to throw people for a loop. Help us help you!

Conclusion

Whether you’re an established company looking to reach a new or existing audience or an individual with a great idea you’ve been thinking about, you owe it to yourself to at least explore what an app could do for you. Don’t feel intimidated by the app-building process: this is what we do, and are here as a resource for you. We’ll guide you through the process, and will help you out whenever you need help.

Andre is the Product Director at Push with a PhD in Human Computer Interaction. Andre believes that thoughtful design can simplify people's lives, and strives to make all of Push's products easy to learn and use, while providing compelling, useful, and joyful experiences.

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