16 Aug, 2023 / Xode Article

To app or not to app: The benefits and downfalls of investing in app-based technologies_

How easy your app is to use will depend on your audience. If it’s marketed to everyone, the app will need to consider the knowledge of all app users, which greatly effects the design. Read on.

Mobile app creation — it’s all the craze, but is it really the best thing for your company? Should you take the plunge into the mobile app market and, if so, how much should you invest? Or can you solve the problem with a web cloud-based software approach?

This article acts as a guide to the mobile app market and answers why you might consider purchasing, or even designing, your own unique app.



B2B apps

Apps are typically targeted heavily at the B2C market. Everything from financial banking apps, dating apps — even apps that break up your screen time for you, are freely available on the Apple app store or on Google Play. A lot of them vary in quality, since, with app building tools, it’s fairly easy to make your own unique ‘app’. Whether it’s any good or not, well… we’ll leave that up to others to decide.

Behind the bright commercial light of consumer apps lies apps for the B2B market. These have a much more specific audience in mind, targeted at entire companies or, if the market is big enough, just one. They’ll solve a solution that, without the app, would be more difficult or time consuming. 

Generally, an app in the B2B market is useful for two things; helping companies deliver for their clients by increasing their capabilities or as an internal tool for increasing efficiency and/or communication between team members. 

B2B or B2C?

The two aren’t really comparable, as a company investing in a B2B app strategy is rarely the same company that’s also investing in a widespread B2C approach. Both app markets should, however, follow the same rules; namely ease of use, responsiveness, navigation and return value. 

How easy your app is to use will depend on your audience. If it’s marketed to everyone, the app will need to consider the knowledge of all app users, which greatly effects the design. What’s common knowledge to you, a year or ten years down the track, may baffle a first-time user who’s never seen the original wireframes. 

A B2B market, on the otherhand, likely involves specialist users who understand your terminology, even if they don’t understand much about the app itself. The assumed level of knowledge can therefore be much greater, without the need for explanation about points of terminology. However, this shouldn’t disqualify the need for selfhelp, particularly around navigation.

Apps that aren’t apps

A lot of apps, particularly those for the B2B market, aren’t mobile ‘apps’ as much as cloud-based applications that can be accessed on any device, be it phone, tablet or computer. The advantage of this is complete integration, allowing different sectors of a business to work together. TimeFiler, a timesheet and leave app request app, is an example in point. The app allows workers to record their hours on a mobile device, using the mobile app, which can then be looked at by payroll through a computer.

Bespoke apps

Before we move on to designing your own app, we should point out that a number of apps position themselves as flexible, multipurpose tools. This allows companies to purchase an app which can be tailored to suit their needs, without paying for the individual build itself, sharing the cost with other companies. Datanest is a specific example, targeted mainly at the environmental sciences. The app allows users to set their own fields for data collection, essentially building their own app based on the type of information that’s relevant to them.

The downside to this is that the bespoke app will, of course, compromise on a few details. The only way to create an app purposed specifically to your needs is to request an individual build.

Designing your own app: is it a pro or a con?

At least, we get to the meat of the matter. Whether or not you design your own app will depend on the following conditions;

  • Costings: The most obvious dilemma is around app costing, which is why bespoke app builders exist. The advantages of the app have to outweigh the cost of the design. A good app service will allow you to trial their product for free — but when building your own app, that’s obviously not possible.

We suggest that you calculate the cost of the problem you’re trying to solve. How many hours of time will your app save your company? How many people do you expect to buy your product once they’re in the app. Use these metrics to calculate your budget.

  • Use: Does your app solve anything useful? Could you do the task easily without the app? If so, then there’s no benefit for others to change their behaviours in order to use your app.

Another question to ask is whether another app would answer the same problem without the need for build time to be factored in. This doesn’t always depend on usability — branding may perform an important role too. Building your own app typically allows you the freedom to design with your brand in mind, selecting colours, logos and brand tone to suit.

  • Complexity: How simple can you make your app? The more complicated it is, even for trained professionals, the less likely people are to use it. This shouldn’t be a deterrent if you’re working in a complex sector — rather, a test for your designers to master. If you can speak your audience’s language and make their lives easier, hey, you’ve got yourself a product!
  • Devices: Does your audience, or company, use the devices your app will need to be on? If not, the road to adaption requires a whole lot more hardware and investment.
  • Return value: This one’s a question for the B2C market; can you see people using you app regularly? If not, then you don’t really have a product that people need.
  • Accessibility: How are people going to find your app, if created? What marketing, or internal adoption program, will you run? Do you have enough to do so after paying for the app’s development.
  • Timing: Designing an app from scratch takes a lot more time than buying a prebuilt system. If you don’t have the time to waste, then purchasing a unique app might have to wait.

So, is it worth it?

Apps are an incredibly useful tool when they answer an internal problem or one which clearly effects the market. Deciding whether or not to build one will depend on your own research and resources. If the need is great enough, and the deliverable result is faster and more efficient, people will likely adopt you app. If not, than you haven’t offered anything of value.

The principles of app design can be applied to anything in life, business or technology. The app has to fulfill a need on a regular basis, and pose interesting enough to your clientele, be they yourself, another company or the mass consumption market.

Where do I go to talk about this?

We suggest you talk with app designers about your project (wait, we’re one of those!) They can talk you through your project, advise on deadlines, feasibility and costings, depending on your concept. 

And the best way to talk to a designer is to come in with ideas. Your app is a ‘pitch’ which a software development company can pick up and help you bring it to market. The more of your vision and big picture you give them, the more they can strategise with you. So research around the target market, insights into how they respond and what you want them to do can greatly help your designers in crafting a product to your needs.

Talk to us at Xode

At Xode, we see your app project as a joint partnership — because we’re in it for the long run! Designing an app takes a team who are with you the entire way, through initial design and development through to testing and monitoring the performance in the field. 

Get in contact with us if you’d like to discuss your potential next project.

Tags: app, b2b, b2c, development, software, designer