Keeping Up with the Mobile Revolution
As the potential for e-commerce surfaced just before the dot-com boom in 1999, public companies realized that an online presence had rapidly become a necessity. Today, it is a given that any business, service or individual should have an active website. In fact, many start-ups begin online before establishing a physical company.
“While we still talk about how the Internet has fundamentally changed the world,” writes editor Whit Richardson for Bangor Daily News, “there’s a new revolution going on.” The mobile revolution is in full swing.
At the end of 2012, more than 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions were active worldwide. In addition, we’ve entered the “post-PC era.” as 2012 was the first year since 2001 that the number of PC sales saw a decline from the previous year. This has left many businesses with an understanding that establishing a greater mobile presence is now a must for reaching the public with visible data and content.
Who Do Apps Work Best for?
The average mobile device owner spends 158 minutes every day using their smartphone or tablet. About 80 percent of this time was spent using apps and only 20 percent surfing with a traditional browser. In addition, mobile commerce is exploding and predicted to take over 25% of online retail transactions by 2017.
If you have a product or service that needs an engaged audience, apps can be an excellent tool. Some of the best restaurant loyalty apps present excellent examples of ways to keep consumers interested while improving their experience. The top contenders include Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Starbucks runs its reward program on your mobile device and even allows for easy mobile payments at the register. Pizza Hut takes advantage of the touch screen interface with a fun app that let’s customers build their own pizzas, adding toppings virtually. Dunkin’ Donuts’ app allows customers to send mobile gift cards to friends. Each of these examples represents successful ways to add to the costumer experience through a mobile device.
Responsive Web Design
If you aren’t convinced that your site needs its own unique app, a new way to stay up with the curve is to make sure you’ve switched your website to be responsive. Responsive sites utilize media queries to decide what resolution is available on the device on which it is being used. This means that the flexible images and fluid grids can resize correctly to fit the screen, whether it’s a phone, tablet or computer.
Some sites prove even more responsive and are enabled to detect the type of device as well. Known as adaptive design, this allows websites to allow swiping for touch screen use.
Responsive sites provide functionality and are “an increasingly popular option for companies that are looking to move into mobile, but that lack the budgets to support separate apps for each mobile platform and don’t need the complexity of a mobile we app,” writes Mashable.com.
Starting with Data
If you are considering app development now or in the near future, you will want to start by communicating with your IT department to find out how relevant business data is formatted and stored. This will determine how your app accesses it.
“This could mean internal SharePoint services or Open Directory databases or third-party data stores like SalesForce or DropBox,” writes Anthony Wing Kosner for Forbes. “What you don’t really want to hear is that your content is locked up in one or more outdated and proprietary formats accrued through decades of mergers and acquisitions.” So it’s important to begin learning about your data because it will detail where you start the process of development.
With the rapid movement towards mobile dominance, many companies and other sites will consider the necessity of establishing a mobile platform as well. And to do this effectively, they’ll choose between either constructing from scratch or taking the responsive design route. As websites gradually became more accessible, it is reasonable to predict that the cost of app development may also come down in the near future.
About the author:
Jessica Socheski is a writer and avid social media fan. When she’s not researching the latest tech trends, you can find her on Twitter.