Blog no1 of this series showed how research was the first step to determine the direction in which one should proceed with regards to getting the right app for their business. Step no2 was to anticipate what users would want, and step no3 to ensure versatility and ethos in design and application.
You might have come to the decision that having a mobile app for your business is of strategic importance to your sales and for the general reinforcement of your brand’s name. So now to the business of choosing the right kind of app that doesn’t end up being a disservice to you, in this 7-blog series we have listed some of the cardinal questions you need to be asking yourself in order to make well-informed choices. Step n°4 is the choice of platform. It boils down to two basic choices: cross-platform or native apps. With the former, you get a standard app that adjusts itself to different devices and operating systems. With the latter, the app is developed to specifically suit an android or iOS. The latter is preferable as the usage feels native rather than somewhat off.
[Here we will refrain from discussing how some people choose to optimize their websites for mobile phones rather than building an app, because that is a different ball game altogether, is much slower, and negates the benefits of mobile apps].
Both apps serve different goals. Cross-platform is cheaper as just one app needs to be developed. It can be used for very simple requirements or for gaming apps. Native apps cost a little more because they need to be developed for multiple OSs. But for stores requiring good imaging, graphics, animation and a more demanding user-interface, native apps must be used. Additionally, it has a better feel and the usage becomes more fluid. Native apps also take advantage of smartphone features like the camera, geo-location etc. which aid in analytics, targeting the right demographics at the right time, and in promotional opportunities.
So you need to choose the right type of platform depending on what your business’ app necessitates.
To use an example to differentiate how each platform serves different purposes, let’s look at two industry types and how the different platforms suit one better than the other. Speedtest.net, an app that provides analyses of internet access performance metrics, uses a cross-platform app. Their app is very simple and doesn’t require a native platform. Being a utility app, it merely gives the user information and doesn’t require an elaborate user-interface.
But to try and use that for a shopping app simply defeats the purpose of even building an app. Take for instance a jewellery brand like Caratlane. Its shoppers require the lure of fancy design work, simplicity in manoeuvring, and a personal user experience. And today’s generation doesn’t wait. So Caratlane can’t afford to give their clientele an app which loads by even a few seconds. It has to be immediate – click and it appears. The user interface must feel smooth, almost as though the customer is having a personal conversation with the app. Caratlane now has the means to access customer analytics, and reach out to the right demographic via smartphone features like geo-location, the camera etc. which is not available on other platforms and capitalize on promotional advantages like instant push notifications.
So as you see, the platform dictates a lot of how your app can land you on a favourable vantage point. The app you choose will be the success or doom of your m-commerce.
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