Do you really need an app?

I’ve been doing website design in Lansing for a long time. I’ve seen many trends come and go. Specifically, I remember spring 2007, when the iPhone was about to come out and I saw a bunch of people standing in line outside of a Sprint store across from the Lansing Mall. I won’t lie, this seemed a little crazy to me. I had already been through many Apple hype cycles and this seemed to be just another marketing scheme from the mind of Steve Jobs. It was, kind of, but also:

The iPhone changed everything

There’s no questioning this fact.

However, initially, folks didn’t know what to do with this technology.

Right around the same time a series of Apple ads began running with the tagline ‘there’s an app for that...’

See one of the original ads here:

Lansing’s 5-10 years behind

As with so many things, Apple was ahead of the curve and as one of Lansing premier design entrepreneurs once told me, ‘Lansing’s about 5-10 years behind the national trend.’ So, for website design, and it’s outgrowth, mobile design, that put Lansing like 10-15 years behind where Apple was.

‘Bummer…’ I remember thinking. But then, as now, he wasn’t wrong and Lansing website design and mobile development has been trying to catch up ever since.

See, nobody told Lansing that they were 5-10 years behind the national trends, so when people saw ads for apps, they wanted one. Those of us who were doing website design in Lansing at that time saw many apps come and go. That first wave, the Version 1.0 app period, as I sometimes call it, generated a lot of money, a lot of hype and a lot of really useless apps. Version 1.0 of anything often suffers from this type of thing.

‘There’s an app for that’ became the new: ‘If you build it, they will come

As a proud skeptic, I steered many of my clients away from the money pit that was mobile app development at that time. Within a couple years, m-dot and then mobile responsive websites were able to do much of the work that apps had promised without the development cost. Also, there was no need to submit apps to a Google/Apple approval process and no need to maintain two different, independent codebases.

However, being skeptical wasn’t the big reason I steered a lot of folks away from apps. The real reasoning was that I knew their users would never use them, because through statistics and user research I could see that their users often didn’t have a user-base that possessed the technology to use a mobile app.

If, as your service provider, I know that something won’t get used because I have the data insight to prove it, I would be an unethical crook to take your money to create it. I want long-lasting relationships with my clients. I’m not looking for a quick pay-out and to move on to the next town. This is old fashioned, probably, but it’s very, very important to me. I want my website design clients in Lansing to be satisfied and well-informed.

And that gets us to the point of this article: Mobile development and design is expensive. Sometimes the expense is worth it, sometimes it’s not, but you won’t know until you do your user research. If your user research shows that there’s a hunger for an app, now you know, build on. If your user research says that they want a website for use over a slow rural DSL, build that. Either way – Start with user research.

What do you know about your users? Do you want to know more about your users. Please get in touch here. I’m fortunate to be one of a few website designers in Lansing who’s also experienced in leading and designing user research. Let me put my experience to work for you.

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