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What Can an App do for Carl Brown, PDAgent, LLC my Business?
What were going to cover today• How do Apps help existing businesses?• What functions do business Apps perform?• What elements go into Apps, and what effect does that have?• What device or devices should I target?• What are the steps in building and publishing an App?• What can an App end up costing?
How do Apps help existing businesses?A.k.a. Whats in it for me?
Increase yourcustomer retention• If a customer gets used to using your App, theyre less likely to go to your competitors
Put a modern faceon your business• Some customers refuse to do business with companies that dont have Apps• Just like many of us dont do business with companies that dont have websites anymore• I expect that more potential customers will start excluding businesses without Apps over time
Internal Only Apps(an Aside)• Some companies have developed Apps just for their employees to use• Point of Sale, Data Collection, Time Cards, etc.• That’s another presentation, though• We’re talking about customer- facing Apps today
How might Apps hurt businesses?No reward without some risk
Poor Apps are moreannoying than poor websites• Theyre more intimate• They are more closely associated with your brand by your customers• It took more effort for the user to install it• Be careful before getting an App done “on the cheap”• Better no App than a poor one
Have to keep Appsup to date• A good App can become a poor App as technology progresses• When services change, features your customers depend on will break• You are expected to respond to that
Not a revenue source• Do enough people pay you to read your website for it to pay for itself?• But you have a website anyway, right?• For most businesses, Apps are better thought of as a marketing expense than a revenue generator.
What functions do business Apps perform?What kind of App might be right for my business?
Novelty Apps• Can be good marketing, if they take off• Will be a waste of time if they dont take off• Lots of competition in the novelty space• High risk/high reward• Games fall into this category, too
Content Apps• Inform your customers• Customers may come to depend on you• Customers may come to think more highly of your brand• May make your customers feel they should reciprocate
Tracking Apps• Can be a useful service provided to your customers• Can give you good demographic and marketing info• Good lock-in for customers • They won’t want to have to re-enter their data into another App
Social Apps• Allow customers to share their opinions about your products or services• Can generate high adoption• Needs to be curated• Failures or mistakes become very public • But those may be turned into opportunities if handled correctly
Service Apps• Win-win • Customer does work for you and feels more in control• Creates data for you to use to enhance retention • “I see you ordered two large pepperoni pizzas last time, would you like the same thing again?”
Hybrids• You can combine two or more functions• Here we have: • Content (Find Stores) • Tracking (Favorites) • Streamlining (my Card)
What elements go into Apps, and what effect doesthat have?Should I use build-in User Interface elements, or build custom ones?
Standard UI• Customers will know how to use it already• Much less expensive to build• No novelty or wow factor
Custom UI• Customers will have to figure it out• Much more expensive to build• Can be cool enough people show their friends• Can be confusing enough people hate it
What device or devices should I target?Aren’t there a lot of them? Doesn’t that get expensive?
iPhone• First “App Phone”• Biggest App Store• Most Apps per user• Popular with the early adopters• Only one new model per year, lots of App downloads at new model release and Christmas
Android• Selling like crazy in the US, from all carriers• Fewer Apps downloaded per user• Much fewer paid apps per user• Many different devices, hard to support/test them all• Less consistent user experience
Windows Phone 7 • Looks promising as a platform • Not a lot of market penetration, yet • I’d say avoid, at least for now*Full Disclosure: I don’t program for WP7
Blackberry • Uncertain future as a platform • I’d say avoid it unless something drastically changes*Full Disclosure: I don’t program for BlackBerry
iPad• Great device• By far the most popular tablet• More screen means more work to design for• Not as portable• Might not be a good fit for your business• More expensive an App if it is a good fit
Android Tablets• Would be nice to have a competitor to the iPad• Sales have been disappointing so far• I’d say hold off for now, but hopefully soon
What are the steps in building and publishing anApp?Just how much work is this, anyway?
Step Zero: Register with App Stores• You have to have accounts on the various App Stores that you want to submit your App to.• Or you have to ask your developer to publish it for you • Either in your name or theirs• This step can take a while, so Don’t Leave it Until the Last Minute
Step One: Purpose• Pick your audience• Pick your functionality• Pick your goals• Pick your target platform(s)
Step Two: Sketch• Sketch out our screens• Sketch out how they transition between them• Sketch out what data needs to be saved• Sketch out other functionality (media, server access)
Step Three: Development• Developer breaks App up into tasks• Checks off the tasks• Hopefully gives you feedback as they go• Developer declares “Code Complete”
Step Four: Testing• The more people (especially customers) you can get involved in testing, the better your App will be• Test the wrong things, not just the right ones • What happens if the user types nothing but punctuation in the email address field? • What happens if the customer gets a phone call in the middle of this step?• Fix the bugs you found in test • If none were found, testing was probably inadequate
Step Five: Submit• You or your developer submits the App to the Store• Some Stores this is quick, some have a review cycle that can take multiple weeks• Some Apps get rejected and have to be re-worked. Your contract with the developer should specify any costs associated with this.
Step Six: Marketing• Technically, this should start earlier that after Submission• This is a topic that several books have been written about
What can an App end up costing?How can I make decisions without hard numbers?
Survey says:$6,453• Well, why didn’t you just say so? • That’s just an average, it can depend wildly on features • “... most did not include their personal time in these figures.” • “... the cost would be at least five or ten times more when using a contracted team.”
Realistically, though• Simple Utility App (2 screens, like iPhone built-in Weather) with your Artwork - $2000 (iPhone only, you submit)• Simple Navigation App (like iPhone Contacts) with your artwork and built-in UI - $4000 (iPhone Only, you submit)• It goes up from there.• Multi-platform (iPad, Android) can add much more.
Open-ended costs don’t help me plan• You should do a two (or more) phase approach• First, a discovery phase • Deliverable is a design document• Once design is locked, only then get a cost estimate• A reputable mobile vendor (in my opinion) should already work this way