Does your business need a mobile app in 2021?

The world has been mobile for years now

Right now is the best time for mobile app development. Out of the 63% of businesses, 20% use their apps solely for branding purposes, 30% use their apps for revenue generation, and 50% use their apps for support and engagement.

The number of smartphone users worldwide today surpasses six billion, according to Statista. This number will grow by several hundred million by 2023. China, India, and the U.S. are the leading countries with the vast majority of smartphone users, with a combined total of 1.46 billion users.

Users spend more and more time on their mobile devices compared to laptops and PCs.

How to decide?

Almost every business owner wonders whether they need a mobile app in the first place. Some businesses need to provide to their customer a simple mobile version of their website. When done right, it can cover all the needs of most users.

But when it comes to providing the best user experience, the app is what you should consider. First of all, you can do much more with the app. While websites on mobile are too restricted in terms of gestures and technologies you can use, mobile apps provide more freedom and flexibility.

For example, the mobile web version of Farfetch works just fine, but if the users want to try new features like virtual try-on, they should switch to the app.

Two screenshots of Farfetch mobile app and mobile version of the website.
You can try sneakers in AR in Farfetch App, while the Mobile Web version doesn't have this feature

So it would be best if you thought for yourself whether you're providing the users with the best mobile experience or not. What are the long-term goals of your business? Could they be achieved without a mobile app?

These are the first questions to consider before even starting designing an app.

What's your target audience, and how do they use their mobile phones

Establish the problem your product or service solves and your target audience. How big or small is the pain point you're trying to alleviate, and what group of people are you offering a solution to.

For established businesses, it's easier to do because they already provide a service or have the product. If you're thinking of launching a mobile app as a business, you approach the mobile app design from as far away as possible by researching your competitors and target audiences.

Look at your competitors and their apps. Pinpoint the things you liked the most and note things you think are bad design and user experience.

As for your target audience: ask yourself what their needs are, age, gender, demographics, hobbies, career, salary? The best approach to defining your ideal target audience is by using personas. Buyer personas will help you better understand your target audience. It also enables you to categorize and group them.

Remember, though, that you cannot create an app for every one of your customers. A simple rule to guide you in your app creation journey is to design for at least 80% of your users.

So, where do I start?

After you've done the research, it is time to think about the design. We at Merge have an established process that saved us a lot of time (and a lot of money for our clients). Before working on an actual design of the app, we do:

  • research (as established in the previous paragraph)
  • analysis
  • wireframing
  • UI design

Out of these steps, wireframing is the most important one. By conducting research and analysis, you should have a basic understanding of all the features and functions that your app will have. Wireframes are a schematic representation of the design. Their main benefit is that they are a lot easier to change and fix than the final product.

After you test and finalize the wireframes, it's time to do the final step – making your app look good. Having a brand book makes things a lot easier. If your business is small and you didn't spend much money on the design yet, look at websites like Behance or Dribbble for app design ideas.

Two screenshots of the mobile app for food delivery and pickup
Check our Dribbble account for mobile design inspiration like this one

Development

While the design process is a tedious task, making it all work as envisioned could be an even bigger hassle. Often there's a question regarding the technology and platforms that you should use.

The best option would be to develop an app for both iOS and Android. The other question is more complicated. There are a couple of app categories by technology:

Native Apps are developed specifically for the platform using specific programming languages. The main advantage of a native app is that they work perfectly on the intended platform. The downside is that you will need to develop and support two apps. For example, a native app for iOS wouldn't work on Android and vice versa.

Hybrid Apps are working fine on all platforms with minimum tweaks and changes. We recommend developing a hybrid app if you're looking for a lower cost but with the same user experience as native apps. For example, React Native framework allows developing an app for iOS and Android while giving the users the same "native" feel that they would have with the app written with Swift or any other language.

Mobile Web Apps. These are simply mobile web versions of the websites. The development costs are the lowest amongst all categories, but the user experience wouldn't be so great.

We recommend sticking to Hybrid apps since they are the most cost-efficient and easier to support.

Final thoughts

App development is a continuous process, and it goes beyond your initial launch as you receive user feedback and build additional functionality.

We have and stick to a robust process for all the mobile apps that we create. Following our enterprise mobile app development process will ensure a successful launch of your app as well.

After checking out this mobile app development process, what questions pop up that you need answers about turning your concept into a successful app? We would love to hear from you.

Sergey Gyluyk

Marketing Lead

Besides marketing, I'm interested in design, new tech, fashion, exploring new places and languages.

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