Here at Orchard, we’ve noticed a real lift in interest in clients wanting an ‘app’ as well as a website. Apps have been ‘a thing’ since the launch of the iPhone back in 2007, so what is going on?
Let’s explore some of the main reasons...
Smartphones are now firmly the daily device of choice for everyone aged 16-75 years.
No surprise there, you may say - but if you think about it for a second, you probably look at more websites on a laptop than on a mobile. Apps then, are just applications sitting on your laptop/desktop device, but on your phone they are your portals into a brands world.
When you think about it, an app is a way you can get data into a central database - just like logging into an area of a website but so much easier. Which is where we go next...
2. Apps give access to a central database
Long gone are the days of having to connect your camera and devices to your computer in order to transfer your photos and media over. Sure, people still do it, but because our smartphones have become the Swiss Army knives for creating media, everything is right there on your user’s phone storage waiting to be sent to your app.
Consider this for a moment. How reluctant are you to log into a website’s portal on a mobile? Yet, once you’ve downloaded an app you are already logged in. Super easy to open, and the data can be ‘sent to the Cloud’ in a click or two.
An example of this is showcased in an app we recently built. The aim of the app was to give the user the ability to very quickly send data to a database when needed to. The user therefore only had to login once while online, and then their login information would be instantly saved to their device, saving them the hassle of having to login every time the app is used.
The data being sent was text, numbers and multimedia. We had to take into consideration that the user may not have an internet connection when they attempt to send the data via the app, so, we built in the ability that if no internet connection could be established, it will store the data locally and fire it up once a connection is found. We found being able to apply these types of features were the main factors as to why we chose to build an app over a website application for this project.
3. Ability to Work Offline
Quite possibly one of the biggest points on this list is having the ability to work offline. A website simply will not load if you’re offline – but an app will. Granted you will not have internet access to get the latest data but the key to this point is storage. This is incredibly important for content that rely heavily on form submissions - a user would be able to fill out the form (while offline), have the data stored to the device on submission, and simply pushed up online once an internet connection is established. Perfect.
4. Push notifications from the app
With some savvy programming if there is a bit of information that a website wants you to see at any point, it can push it into your view while you’re surfing a website. That’s great - but what if I’m not at my computer? My computer isn’t going to walk into Starbucks and find me while I’m drinking my caramel latte – an app will (metaphorically speaking of course)
Apps have the ability to push notifications from your app to your users as long as they have an internet connection. This is perfect for sending quick snippets of information to help get the user back onto your app.
Once an app is downloaded it exists on your device, therefore it can perform actions much quicker than a website that generally uses web servers. This is particularly important for features such as user’s preferences.
6. Making use of mobile device features
Mobile apps have the advantage of utilising features of a mobile device like a camera, contact list, GPS, phone calls, accelerometer, compass, etc.
Such device features, when used within an app, can make the user experience interactive and fun.
Moreover, these features can also reduce the efforts users would have to make otherwise. For instance, users completing a form on a banking app might need to submit their photograph for completion of the process. The app can let users make use of the camera on their mobile device to capture and submit a photograph.
The device features can significantly shorten the time users take to perform a certain task in an app, and can even boost conversions.
I do not believe apps are at a stage where they can replace the need for a website, and I can’t see why they ever would be as they coexist perfectly. However, every business should consider how an app could potentially benefit them - there may be more reasons than they think.