A few years ago, the trend was to build an app for everything. There was an app for making your screen all white, an app for making gun sounds, monkey sounds, car honking sounds, an app that made little hats, an app for the capital of the 50 states, and a million other little things. Every business was making apps, and spending a lot of time on something that very few people would eventually download. These days it has calmed down, but many are still unclear when they have reached the point that they need a phone app. Here we will try to simplify when/if you might need a mobile app, and when it would be better to do a “webapp” or website.
While websites these days have become almost a necessity, it can be a considerable investment to make a mobile app. A website is an easy pay-off and it can bring in a huge amount of business. You need to make sure to not lose money off of the endeavor of making an app. For example, a restaurant with one or two locations likely does not need an app. I only say this because any feature that an app might be designed to do (display menu, pre-order food, view receipts, show events) can likely be done easier on a website. And for most people, an app is a barrier to entry, but it is easy to visit a web page. You type in a URL, or Google a business and a website appears. You don’t have to open the App Store, search, download, then wait for it to install before you can open. And information is always changing, and it is hard to constantly be updating apps. However, if you are creating a tool that is less for displaying information, and more for accomplishing a task, than you may need a mobile app. For example, if you need to take a picture of a photo, use the GPS, flashlight, or gyroscope, then an app is the way to go. If you need to locally store a lot of information, especially custom information, then an app is the way to go. For most businesses, a website is built mainly for the purpose of displaying information or commerce.