How to Make the Right Mobile App Decision

Stop Sweating The Mobile App Decision

All the hype around mobile marketing makes you want to run and hide in a gym locker. Are prospects disappearing because we don't have an app? Is our existing app really just a stopgap, a play toy without any serious features, now burning in the App Store dumpster?

Turns out, this mobile thing is tough. Decisions around end users, technology and integration will help answer the "what" and "how" questions of app development, cutting an easier path to adoption and engagement.

What makes the perfect app?

1. Start with the "what" question, or what should my app do. Developers agree most companies get lost in the "how" question and sabotage their own success because functionality was never clearly defined.

Want to get off to a hot start? Bake your "what" into the app on day one of development.

Want to insure long-term success? Get that "what" on your terms by branding the app to your specifications. Own the app by wrapping brand around functionality.

2. Next comes the "how" question, or how do we build it, including cost, timeline and choice of developer.

The "what" and "how" are internal questions. And the answers are the heart of your mobile business plan.

3. Together, end users, technology and integration help crystallize your mobile plan. Based on needs and desires, these three components will help answer the "why" and "how." Let's break down all three.

How do we design an addictive app members will love? What technology offers the most elegant user experience? What about integration? Placing key software applications like account management and program registration in the hands of busy customers sounds like a must-have capability.

Point is, health and fitness mobile users don't want the Subway app with bland ingredients and generic appeal, served on wet paper. They want a culinary delight prepped using the best technology, cooked their way, and deployed with robust capabilities.

Don't create an underwhelming mobile experience. Don't leave your customers unfulfilled.

Or else.

The customer is always right

Mobile marketers know app churn rates are high. And your mobile user is the firing squad, deleting or abandoning most app downloads after one or two uses. According to Apptentive, only 4 percent of apps make it a year on a smartphone.

However, getting on a customer's home screen – and staying there – is not only rarefied air, but also serious brand building as you and your app user see each other about 100 times a day.

How do we get our app to stick? How do we survive and thrive with the odds stacked against us?

Prior to development, take the temperature of your audience. Do a little market research and discover prior to development:

  • • Preferred operating system
  • • Choice of hardware, or device
  • • Mobile usage patterns
  • • Non-negotiable features
  • • Apps they do love

After development, recruit beta-testers to take the app for a spin prior to launch. Buggy apps get kicked to the curb. Test, test, and test some more. You'll be glad you did.

The great app debate

Developers have three weapons of choice for building your app: HTML5, hybrid and native. Despite pluses and minuses, each technology has a fit. Your ultimate choice will influence price, development and performance.

1. HTML5 apps are written like web apps and run on a web browser. HTML5 apps:

  • • Work on any device or operating system
  • • Make great lightweight apps for simple functions
  • • Limit marketing, monetization and search opportunities

2. Hybrid apps are, well, hybrids of native and HTML5 apps. Hybrid apps are HTML5 applications tucked inside a native application wrapper. Hybrid apps:

  • • Provide an upgrade to HTML5
  • • Require code and maintenance for each operating system
  • • Are slower than native applications

3. Native apps deliver the richest user experience and maximize hardware capabilities. Installed directly onto your phone, native apps do require separate apps for iOS and Android. Native apps:

  • • Provide unlimited access to features
  • • Deliver greater value across app stores
  • • Cost more and take longer to develop

Web apps have a place and continue to improve, but native technology still reigns supreme for companies wanting a faster, smoother user experience, better hardware integration, and unfettered access to app stores.

Full integration or bust

Think about your software system. Imagine your software system truly integrated with your mobile app. It is possible to take your core business to the street, pushing back-end applications into a mobile environment.

What good is it to your customer if they can view classes but not actually sign up for them? What about account management, or scheduling? Mobile apps and back-end systems can coexist.

Regardless of device or location, regardless of customer or employee, mobile apps should provide access to business apps and business data.

The ability to connect to business apps and data will greatly increase the value and adoption of your mobile app.

The right app can bridge the gap between mobile and back-end systems of record.

The good news is mobile app development has evolved and the right application for your club is out there. The bad news is getting mobile wrong can be a painful misstep in today's mobile-first world, wasting money, marketing muscle, and crucial time in the race for mobile supremacy.

Get out of the locker and choose wisely.

About CSI Software

CSI Software provides fully integrated, single source health and fitness club management software to health and fitness clubs, campus recreation centers, parks and recreation facilities, wellness centers and hotels and fitness resorts, as well as JCC, YMCA and YWCA organizations. We are the standard for management software helping to improve customer relationships, cut costs, and make more money.

Empower your members to book, register, and schedule from their phones with CSI Software's mobile app.

App development has evolved and the right application for your club is out there.

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