05 May 2020

3 Things To Keep In Mind When Developing A Business Mobile App

Mobile apps have become an excellent way of reaching new customers and expanding a business’s presence. They fit in seamlessly with existing digital media and marketing strategies, and have the potential to support growth hack techniques for massive outreach. Businesses have already noticed this potential and have started implementing digital activities that involve the use of a business mobile application.

An effective mobile app that serves your business goals while also being user friendly and engaging, will not get made by magic. It requires meticulous planning and clear insights into customer needs and behaviour.

While there are many factors to consider, such as budget, platform and competition, the following key points will help structure your initial planning.

3 Things to Consider When Planning A Mobile App for your Business

1. Business Branding

A mobile application is an extension of your business on app stores and customer mobile devices. One of its responsibilities is to amplify your brand presence and represent your business through mobile devices. Therefore, mobile application design and development needs to be done keeping your business’s branding in mind. The easiest way to do this is to make sure your mobile application contains all basic brand identity elements. This includes:

  • Logo
  • Colour Scheme
  • Brand Message
  • Images
  • Typography
  • Brand Personality
mobile app development for business

Does your mobile app tick all the boxes listed above? Help your mobile app development team clearly understand brand identity elements specific to your business. Doing so will allow them to create a mobile application that correctly presents your brand and business to existing customers as well as new visitors.

2. Business Website

The business mobile application needs to be consistent with the business’s website in every respect. Your website plays a key role in creating an identity for your business online. Discrepancies in business message and brand personality can confuse your customers and dilute your brand presence.

To avoid this, all content created for your mobile application must never fall out of your business’s content theme and brand message. Any content created must align with the existing brand identity, add to the business’s presence and maintain content consistency.

3. Objective

What role will the mobile application play in your digital marketing structure? A mobile app should be created to focus on a specific task which will offer genuine value to the app users.  The cost, time and technology for the development will heavily depend on what task/s the app needs to perform. This will be the hook that pulls in app users and will also be a crucial deciding factor of your app’s popularity. For example, an educational institution can create a mobile app which streams topic-wise educational videos.

The objectives of a mobile application have to be in sync with that of your digital marketing structure, and overall business goals. The features and functionality of a mobile app can be finalized based on these requirements. The mobile app development should ensure that the features and functionalities that are required to help the businesses grow through mobile app marketing techniques are available. Learn more about these techniques, Five Ways Mobile Applications Can Help Your Business Grow.

Thanks to improvements in app technology and devices, developing a business mobile app is not difficult. However, developing one that draws in the targeted audience, keeps them engaged, while also meeting your business goals, is not an easy feat. Start your planning with the above points in mind and you will be well on your way to accomplishing this feat. If you get your mobile app development right, the returns are more than worth the effort.

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19 Feb 2020

Creating an effective Scope of Work for a Mobile Application or Website

Getting an idea from concept to solution can be a long journey; it requires a lot of patience to get right. It’s tempting to just call up an agency bursting at the seams with ideas and plans in hope that they can piece together your shards of genius Frankenstein-style. Even if they do, your creation would be more monstrosity than the perfection you originally envisioned! The better path would be to create a Scope of Work document that clearly presents these ideas in an actionable fashion.

What is a Scope of Work?

A Scope of Work (SOW) is the division of work to be performed under a contract or subcontract in the completion of a project, typically broken out into specific tasks with deadlines. When we refer to a “Scope of Work”, we typically refer to the document detailing that division of work.

One of the biggest problems that often occurs during a project life-cycle are discrepancies between the agency and client on:

  • what needs to be done
  • how it should be done
  • how long it should take

This is the source of a lot of confusion and can lead to delays in delivery or even worse, the complete dissolution of the project and even legal action.

The SOW should contain any milestones, reports, deliverables, and end products that are expected to be provided by the performing party. As stated before, timelines for these deliverables are very important. In general, the more specific a SOW is, the better.

SOWs for Mobile and Web Applications

webFX Toucan Scope of Work Mobile

Here at WebFX, we specialise in mobile and websites, as well as many other digital services, and we do not commence any such project without a Scope of Work being created first. There are too many considerations, not always obvious to the client, that go into completing a successful project. Starting with a document places us and the client on common ground and allows us to give the client a solid guarantee of final quality and completion date. We do create Scope of Work documents for clients ($2,500TT + VAT) but we also feel it important that clients have the opportunity to create their own SOWs as well. Not only does it save them money, it allows them to understand and refine their ideas which ultimately results in a more polished end product.

Creating the SOW Section 1: Confidentiality Agreement

It’s a good idea to begin any SOW document with a confidentiality agreement. Remember, these are your ideas that you are submitting to another individual or company, and as such it’s a good idea to have a base layer of protection over them. Some clients opt to limit the amount of information they reveal to the person building their app or website. This is actually counter-productive, because as mentioned earlier, the more detailed you are in your SOW the better. The best strategy is to be very detailed in describing your solution but begin your SOW document with a confidentiality agreement. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) are also typically used. It is a good idea to get an attorney to draft this but if you’re on a tight budget you can find some good templates online.

Creating the SOW Section 2: Overview

The next thing you want to do is prepare a brief of your project containing information like what your project is about, how it works, who it is for, target audience and brief business model.

For example, say you wanted to build a mobile app to allow people to order food from your restaurant. Your overview should be a mix of the following points:

  • What is the project about – Allowing people to order food from anywhere using their Android or iOS phone.
  • How does it work – The user selects the options for their order via the in-app menu and checks out. They have to enter their address and payment information during checkout. This service is only valid within a certain area. They can also opt to create an account with this information. After they pay with either PayPal, WiPay or Stripe, their bill is delivered in email. The order is also received at the POS of the outlet and the delivery driver changes the status of the order to “On The Way” when leaving. After the meal has been delivered, the driver changes the status to “delivered”. (Don’t get too detailed here, go for a broad overview and use a real-life situation if possible)
  • Target Audience – We are situated close to the University of the West Indies so we are targeting students that are typically aged 18-30. (You can go more into describing the demographic but stay close to how it relates to the look and feel of your app rather than the marketing)
  • Brief Business Model – We are adopting a pay first system in the app so users must pay with a credit card prior to completing their order. The delivery fee is also added to the total. The mobile app must support PayPal, WiPay and Stripe as payment options. (focus the business model mainly on what needs to be built)

Creating the SOW Section 3: Technical Section

This is where all the fine details of your solution are contained. Feel free to get as intricate and detailed as possible. It’s a great idea to use visual and graphical components to get your point across. Here are some things you can use:

  • Charts (Pie, Bar, Line or whatever works best)
  • Flowcharts (Very useful in demonstrating process flows)
  • Graphics (image and icons)
  • Video
  • Examples (It’s a very good idea to show links to existing solutions that you would like your application to operate like)

Additionally, there are several components you need to capture within this section.

  • List the technical solutions you require – If you require a mobile app and a website admin with a section for reports etc.
  • Specify if the new solution requires some interaction or update to an existing solution – Describe the existing solution here in as much detail as possible. Additionally, specify if certain technologies must be used. For e.g. if your team is already adept at using the Drupal CMS so that’s your preference for the new website.
  • List all the users who should have access to the app or website – Also, describe their categories and what they should have access to.
  • List all the features of your mobile app or website – For a website, you should start with a list of the pages you want represented plus any actions you would like the user to be able to do. For eg. for an artist page your features would be Home, Bio, Music, Videos, Contact, About, Shop and the ability for users to purchase merch with on the site via a credit card. For a mobile app, list the pages you would like in the menu plus what actions the user should be able to perform.
  • Specify the process flow if applicable – If your solution involves processes outside of the app or website such as a food delivery system that needs to also interact with a driver and a POS system, it’s a good idea to highlight this as clearly as possible. The absolute best way to do this is with a flowchart diagram. If you are unable to do this, you can detail the flow in bullet points.
  • Reports – Indicate if reports will be required and detail what type of reports will be necessary. Additionally, the frequency of these reports are also important. Some people try to avoid mentioning reports till late into the project to avoid having to ‘pay’ for it. Trust us, that will end up costing you more in the long run. On the contrary, it’s better to introduce reports earlier because most times they can be integrated into the system at a cheaper cost. Instead of having to depend on the developer to send you weekly reports at a recurring maintenance cost, you can have one built and integrated into the admin that allows you to generate your own reports.
  • Support & Maintenance terms – How many months of support you need and in which model – dedicated resource or fixed commitment of time & hours, etc.
  • Desired time of completion – The length of time a project takes is directly related to the number of features that need to be built. In some cases, features may be moved to a later phase to satisfy a deadline. Either way, indicating this in the SOW is valuable to allow the agency to determine whether they are able to finish the solution in time and either choose to not take on the project, suggest an alternate deadline or suggest a reduction in features or alternate solution that can be completed quicker.

Finishing the SOW

After you create the SOW unfortunately, the document still isn’t finished yet. You will need the agency or developer to add some more items to the document:

  1. A Detailed Timeline – You would have added your desired timeline but this timeline will be a lot more concrete. It will break down the project life cycle into tasks with a time value attached to each one. On mobile app and website projects, time is very important because it is directly related to cost; development cost is calculated according to an hourly rate.
  2. Costing – Along with the timeline, a total cost will be provided. There are many costs that comprise this total. Generally, the type of costs are:
    • Development costs – Charged according to an hourly rate
    • Other professional costs – There may be a project manager or graphic designed also involved. These costs also typically have an hourly rate.
    • Maintenance costs – Once a mobile app or website project is accepted by the client as being completed according to the scope, any additional development request is treated as a separate job and costed as such. This can get expensive, especially if the changes are small. One way to solve this problem is to agree to a maintenance contract which usually covers a certain number of hours of work for a limited period. This cost is typically charged by the period either monthly or yearly.
  3. Agreement – Usually there is a lot of back and forth after you submit your SOW. This is normal so don’t be impatient. It’s better to catch issues at this stage than after you’ve made your down payment. The developer or agency will probably request clarification on your concept, or you may want the cost reduced. After much discussion, you both will sign the agreement and soon after, development begins.

If you are seeking more information regarding creating a Scope of Work or you are interested in creating a website or mobile app, feel free to contact us.

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17 Feb 2020

Five Ways Mobile Applications Can Help Your Business Grow

Smartphones and mobile applications have taken computing on the go to the next level. Together they have revolutionized the way we shop, order food, pay our bills and even send money to our friends and family. Mobile applications have turned smartphones into a powerful toolbox, capable of doing so much more than just making and receiving phone calls.

Why Are Mobile Apps So Popular?

In today’s digital age most people expect things to happen fast and with minimal effort. We have come to expect speed and convenience in all areas of life. Mobile brings speed and convenience to tasks that used to be tedious and time consuming. Hence, they are soaring in popularity. Factors that make mobile apps popular include:

– Quick and easy access

– 24/7 availability

– Simple to use and operate

Mobile Apps soaring in popularity

This is a huge opportunity for businesses. There is no other marketing tactic out there that can put you in front of your target audience the way mobile applications can. The rate at which smartphone users are increasing, it only makes sense to take advantage of this lucrative marketing channel.

If you are still on the fence about getting a mobile application developed for your business, take a look at its benefits below.

Five Ways Mobile Applications Can Help Your Business Grow

1. Boost Sales – A business mobile app will allow your customers to find products and services quickly. A simple scroll and few clicks will take them to what they need. The task of browsing the internet and searching for options is eliminated. This in turn helps boost sales by:

  1. Saving time for potential buyers, thus encouraging buyers to ‘take action’
  2. Reducing competition by eliminating visibility of competitor options that appear online
Mobile Applications Can Help Your Business Grow

Investing in an easy to install and operate mobile application will overtime have a profitable impact on your business’ sales and growth.

2. Build Strong Brand Presence – Mobile applications help your brand stay connected to your clients 24/7. This connectivity supports brand visibility, recognition and trust. The more they recognize and trust you, the stronger your brand presence is going to be. Mobile apps can also incorporate sharing buttons to boost social sharing among customers.

3. Build Customer Relationship and Loyalty – Another advantage of staying connected to your customers is improved customer relationship, that expands and strengthens customer loyalty. This is one of the best advantages of business mobile applications. A loyal customer means higher customer lifetime value.

4. Encourage Customer Engagement – Mobile application development must incorporate features which boost customer engagement. Features such as a helpdesk, loyalty points and share buttons, all propel active customer engagement. This also lets you peek into what problems your customers are facing, and how you can provide better customer service. Regular interactions with clients will help your business brand foster trust and aid points 1, 2 and 3 mentioned above.

Mobile application development to boost customer engagement

5. Better Direct Marketing – Direct marketing can be a double-edged sword. If you get the targeting right, your campaign can generate a massive ROI. However, if your targeting is off, a direct marketing campaign can go down in flames. With mobile apps, direct marketing is less risky for two reasons:

  1. You are targeting an audience who already know you, have interacted with you, and since they have your business mobile app installed, they are already interested in your products and services.
  2. Mobile apps are also good for collecting customer data on purchase habits. Based on this data, you can refine your targeting and make it more specific. Specificity is the key when it comes to marketing and mobile apps help implement it to your marketing strategies.

Customer behavior is changing to stay in sync with present digital scenario, and businesses need to pay close attention to these changes. If you want to survive and surpass your competition, your business strategies must evolve. Mobile applications are a perfect example of how your business can take advantage of this new era in digital marketing.

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