Creating a successful mobile app strategy in 2024
30 November 2023 • 5 min read
In 2023, 485,000 apps were downloaded every minute. Customers are currently spending 7x more time using apps than browsers. So how do you start your journey to build a user-friendly mobile app? What makes a truly great mobile app? And what are the most important things to take into account?
The number of mobile users has now outgrown the number of desktop users. For businesses to reach and engage with their customers, it's a necessity to build, launch and manage a user-friendly mobile app. The opportunities to personalise content, to send notifications or to use mobile features like GPS or camera, have meant that development teams have a large scale of options to choose from as they start on their mobile app journey.
Selecting the right platform and capabilities for your mobile app
So, you've made the decision to invest in creating a mobile app for your business.
The first thing to consider is choosing the right platform; we're not only talking about iOS versus Android. And this is not a simple case of building a desktop website to then translate into a mobile app either. There are many things that a mobile platform can do over and above a web application. We're talking about wearables such as:
- Apple Watch and Android Wear to enable fitness and health tracking
- Connected devices in the home such as Amazon Alexa for automated voice assistance
- Tablets such as using an iPad and Apple Pencil for content creation for artists or pupils in the classroom
These platforms provide us with the opportunity to reach out and connect with end users in a different way - and create potential for greater engagement.
Once you've chosen the optimal platform for your business, it's worth considering what capabilities your mobile app should include. Mobile specific capabilities such as access to a camera can provide countless opportunities to tap into leading edge innovation that augmented reality, virtual reality and object recognition can all offer via artificial intelligence (AI). You have the opportunity to tap into greater security provisions with biometrics, such as touch ID, face ID and location awareness. Users are able to access products more quickly and seamlessly through Apple, Google and Samsung Pay. There is also the option to make the user experience more accessible for all, through the enablement of speech and language processing such as Google assistant or Siri, dynamic text size, screen readers and mobility support.
Finally, consider the impact that push notifications can have on your customer base. Businesses have a unique capability to communicate content and information to their customers at all times, as consumers carry their mobile devices with them. Location awareness through GPS or Bluetooth beacons at shopping malls can provide instant information to the consumer.
The benefits of native vs cross-platform app development
Once your preferred platform has been identified and key features have been agreed upon, how do you start the build process? What do you need to consider and how do you know you are making the right choices?
There are two main build approaches to consider:
- Native - write once for each platform i.e. Apple or Android, using Swift or Kotlin
- Cross-platform - write once for all platforms i.e. in React Native or Flutter
With Swift and Kotlin native development, you’re looking at two teams working separately and with two separate languages. As an approach this is the oldest and most established of those we'll be looking at in this comparison, originating 15 years ago. Each platform uses native components and layouts, to produce mobile apps that can be distributed onto the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores respectively. Once created, these apps are production ready - which is why some of the largest apps in the world (WhatsApp, Spotify, AirBnb) are written natively.
An alternative approach to writing native would be to go cross-platform. If you’re going for React Native as your chosen approach, the code will be written once but shipped twice - to iOS and Android. This solution has been used in development for around 7 years and is an open source project developed originally by Facebook (now Meta), rather than Apple and Google who own the respective Native solutions.
You should also consider Flutter, which is an open source project, sponsored and developed by Google. This approach is much newer than the other two and has been used for around 5 years. It can therefore be more challenging to find experienced developers with the right skills in Dart, which is the language used to write code for this solution.
Like React Native, Flutter is a cross-platform solution - the same code can be written once and shipped across multiple platforms such as iOS, Android, Web and Desktop. The logic and layouts here are written in Dart, but it renders its own components rather than using Native components. Also production ready and used in many indie apps, Google Ads and other Google apps.
In addition to understanding the different options across Native and Cross-Platform build, there are other items to consider as well; from fidelity and features, to support, accessibility, and of course costs.
Building your skills and capabilities as well as your mobile apps
There are three kinds of mobile projects we work on with our clients:
- Greenfield - building a product from scratch
- Brownfield - updating and improving an existing product
- Replatform - moving an existing product from one technology choice to another
The key element for the final phase of any mobile app development project is a clear understanding of the ongoing technical capabilities that are required to maintain the app, as well as improve it for an extended lifespan.
During the build phase, we'll identify existing or new knowledge gaps that might appear. Upskilling, coaching and training opportunities will be identified to address these gaps: the outcomes will largely depend on the type of project the company is undertaking and will be strongly linked to the post-deployment strategy of the app.
With the technical requirements, most organisations will also need support to embed their change management program. This will include amended process flows in order to make sure content is created, optimised, and managed for the mobile app (and becomes part of the holistic content eco-system within the company).
We work with a wide variety of customers on their mobile app strategy and deployment. Our teams are solution-agnostic and will guide, build, and equip based on your needs. To learn more about how we've helped others develop a remarkable experience for their customers, take a look at the work we did to turbocharge the mobile user experience at ZapMap or the new app experience we developed for British Airways.
For more detail on how we can make a remarkable impact together in 2024, head over to our mobile app development page.
 2023 app download data derived from research by data.ai