Here's Exactly What You Need to Do to Launch a Mobile App
The future is mobile; isn't it time for your business to be part of it?
Recently, in Entrepreneur, I examined eight different ways your business could benefit from offering a mobile app. These included keeping up with your competitors, solving a problem that your customers face, retaining customer data to simplify conversions, and effectively managing customer loyalty programs.
If you’ve determined that the time is right for your own business to launch a mobile app, you’re certainly not alone. Statista estimated that as of the first quarter of 2018, over 7 million apps were available for download in the leading app stores. Mobile analytics powerhouse App Annie, meanwhile, found that the average U.S. consumer uses mobile apps for two hours and 15 minutes each day -- which adds up to over one month during the course of a year.
With numbers like that, it’s easy to see how launching an app that your customers adopt and use can be an enormous opportunity for your business. But remember: The quality of your app is paramount. According to a study by Localytics, 71 percent of mobile apps looked at by researchers were uninstalled within 90 days of installation.
Real estate on your customer’s mobile devices, then, is valuable; so your app needs to deliver value in order to be retained. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a developer to be able to deliver that value. Here are four ways and (and the corresponding best tools) with which your business can develop and launch a mobile app that your customers will use and retain.
The plug-and-play option: Buildfire
Buildfire offers customers two options for building a mobile app. You can hire its team of professional developers to create an app for you, or you can utilize its intuitive plug-and-play app builder. The platform has a wide range of templates to suit almost any business type.
That's useful if your service feels less straightforward than apps you may admire. You can also use an assortment of plug-ins to help you customize the functionality, as well as the look-and-feel of your mobile app.
Once your app is ready to launch, Buildfire will then submit your app to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store for Android. A platform like Buildfire works for businesses which have a clear picture of what functions they want and how the app should appear. In terms of the app's drag and drop interface, the app allows you to test different options until you find one you’re happy with.
Buildfire’s built-in emulator will also allow you to test how your app looks and behaves on a wide variety of mobile devices. If you want to build your own mobile app without writing a single line of code, Buildfire is an option worth exploring.
The back-end option: Firebase
Firebase is Google’s own mobile development platform and can help you power apps that work on iOS, Android and the web. While Firebase eliminates the need for server-side programming and offers robust database and analytics capabilities, you will still need to develop the front-end of your mobile app ( i.e., the part of the app your customer sees).
For people who don't know how to code, the Firebase option is less user-friendly than platforms like Buildfire, but its powerful database functionality handles all the heavy lifting on the back-end once your client-side app is developed.
The DIY approach
If you’re the type of person who likes to get your hands dirty and aren’t intimidated by learning to write code, building your own mobile app from scratch may just be the right challenge for you.
Though considerably more time-consuming and demanding than using an intuitive solution like Buildfire or hiring a developer, building your mobile app yourself not only offers greater control and flexibility over the final product, but provides a significant learning opportunity. One of the benefits of having built your app from the ground up is that you will be well-positioned to make detailed improvements and customize your app, based on user feedback.
Writing code is no longer as daunting a prospect as it once was, and there are a wealth of web-based resources and communities of freelance web developers offering step-by-step tutorials on mobile app development.
The freelance approach
If you've concluded that a mobile app could be a significant boon to your business; if you’re looking for customization in design and functionality beyond what a template-based approach can offer; or if you need to build an app quickly, there are few (if any) substitutes for hiring an experienced developers.
While finding the right developer with appropriate experience and expertise can be a challenge, professional platforms such as CodementorX screen their freelance web developers stringently and even offer a risk-free trial period to ensure the developer is a good fit for your project.
According to Statista, over 52 percent of website traffic took place on mobile devices in 2018. As more and more aspects of our online lives move to mobile devices, developing a mobile app for your business is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury.
Thankfully, this reality has helped create a vast pool of talented mobile app designers who can help you develop a highly customized mobile app at a very competitive price and lead to plug-and-play solutions like Buildfire. The future is mobile; isn’t it time for your business to be part of it?
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor