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Should I build a website or a mobile app?

David Stewart, vp, creative technology director | 

Should I build a website or a mobile app?

Sometimes you get so busy making things you forget to stop and discuss what you do with your peer group. Thanks to the group of digital professionals from Vladimir Jones, Cactus Marketing, MJD Interactive, and Mondo Robot for coming to Karsh Hagan to chat about a question that is top of mind in the digital era: should you build a website or a mobile app?

The short answer is: you probably need both.

Here are 9 important takeaways from the discussion we had as a group.

1. Defining The Need

If you are starting with the phrase “we need a mobile app,” then you have not thought through what your objectives are very clearly.  

Step 1: Define your users and their needs and document your goals and requirements.

Step 2: Define your user interfaces. It’s likely that your users will need multiple interfaces as you build a relationship with them.

2. Providing Utility

Often, the more utility or functionality you need to deliver the more likely you are to want a mobile app experience. Native mobile applications are better suited for performing complex interactions you repeat over and over again in context. However, this is not always the case; always refer back to point 1.

3. It’s About Your Users; Not About You

Employ user centered design and focus on the features that are the most important to your users and prioritize these for release in your agile management software like Trello. Interview your users, ask them open-ended questions about what they want to see in your digital solution. By using this philosophy you will be able to determine what interface is best for the user and this will help you make a successful application.

4. Relentlessly Prototype and Test It

Always build a prototype to test your interface before you define what your interface will actually be. You can build a prototype in code, but maybe start with a tool like inVision.

Step 1: Create a clickable prototype first to validate your concept with your users.

Step 2: Build a working prototype to further test and repeat this process into the foreseeable future. or Lookback are good testing tools to use.

5. Get Feedback From Your Users

Once you have your Mobile app or Website out in the wild, solicit feedback from your users and leverage comments in the app store for improvements.  You can use surveys, chat, forums, and contact forms to get feedback. You may find that your users need a different interface for your app after you have released it.

6. Design an Experience

Many of the mobile design patterns of apps and sites are starting to blend together for good reason. Ensure you have a consistent design between your site, app, and all communication channels. Remember that users view you as one company and one digital relationship so make it feel that way.

7. Build Relationships

Think of your website and your mobile app experience as on ongoing conversation. Whether it’s an app or a site, your goal is to acquire users, engage them and get them to be loyal. So, make friends, listen to your users, know their behavior, respond to them, give them what they expect and build a personal relationship with them through automated marketing and communications. Leanplum or Sharpspring are good tools to enable this.

8. Engage With Data

Start to restructure your IT infrastructure around universal access to content and data through APIs. To build engaging websites, mobile apps, and other digital touchpoints you will have to access real time data. In other words, don’t start to paint the car and define how the stereo works before you put an engine in it.

9. Measure The Entire User Journey

Now that you have a website and mobile app, you will want to build an effective and seamless brand experience. To do this, you will need to measure every interaction throughout the entire user journey because you are only as good as your weakest link. There are a lot of sophisticated dashboard reporting systems out there but you can start with Google Sheets to refine your Key performance indicators and reporting. After you do that, you can migrate into one of the many automated dashboard systems like qlikview.

Since this is a digital world we love to learn new things each and every day. If you feel like we missed anything here, feel free to give us your feedback.

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