Everything Your Business Needs to Know About Custom Mobile App Development

Having a mobile-friendly website is non-negotiable. Most people won't recommend a site to other people if it doesn't have a good app or mobile version, and smartphone conversion rates are up 64 percent when compared to desktop conversions. No matter what your business is, it's time to start thinking about making an app if you want to keep people engaged online. Custom app development is certainly an investment (both in time and money), but a good app helps you reach new people and builds loyalty. Just getting started? Here's what your business needs to know about custom mobile app development.

When You Need a Custom App

Off-the-shelf apps are available faster, more affordable for the limited features, and often tempting. These apps are sometimes called "white label" apps. However, while you may be able to achieve basic functionality with a pre-packaged app design, you can't really make it your own. Your business's information will simply be plugged into an existing design, leaving you without a say regarding layout or functionality.

Custom apps are just as their name suggests -- totally customized -- to your business needs. The tabs, media and graphics are all within your complete control. A custom app is also more scalable for future growth, and you will have total ownership over the intellectual property on the app. Any cool features you develop for your business' app will belong to you, and not a big box app developer.

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Selecting User-Friendly Features

User experience is crucial to pleasing people who download your app. As of 2016, about 25 percent of mobile users abandoned an app after their first use. In order to keep people engaged, your app needs to be useful as well as engaging. User-friendly features to include in custom mobile app development include quick in-app check-out for purchases, social media connectivity, responsive design (the screen should rotate and zoom) and push notifications.

Think strategically about how you want your user's journey through the app to be while you're considering custom features. Small retailers may, for example, run a mobile app-only sale, where users can browse inventory and pay in-app with a special code and then share the purchase on Facebook. This makes the customer happy and allows for brand promotion at the same time. Be sure to make push notifications optional: a whopping 71 percent of users will delete an app if it has annoying notifications.

Time and Cost of Custom Apps

Building a custom app may be more than a single quarter goal. Depending on the extent of your app features and the size of the project, you can expect a good app to take several months to make -- including the discovery phase. Just how much will you invest in your custom mobile app development? For a moderately complex app with payment capabilities, tablet adaptation and custom user features, the project is likely to take at least 500 hours and cost $40,000, on the low end.

The idea of building a custom app may sound overwhelming, but it's necessary for most businesses that sell to the public. Most importantly, white label apps are unlikely to be accepted by major app stores. To reach your target market and get them excited about your mobile presence, a custom mobile app is the way to go.

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