Every city should consider developing a native mobile app. Here are five reasons why:
1. Deliver Mobile Friendly Content: One of the advantages of an app is that it will deliver content in a mobile-friendly format. So any information that’s displayed on the organization’s website can be repurposed and added to an app so it can be easily read on a smartphone. When adding content, it’s important to remember there’s limited real estate, so you need to pick the content that’s most used. Content that isn’t accessed much can be left on the website.
2. Convenience: Eighty percent of time spent on a smartphone is done on apps versus 20 percent of the time on the web. I think a big reason is convenience. Think about it: Would you rather launch the Facebook app or launch Safari and then tap out the Facebook URL? If you have content on your website that’s regularly accessed, you should strongly consider developing an app so that you make it more convenient for your users.
3. Push Notifications: One of the most powerful features that can be found on an app is the ability to send out push notifications. Push notifications have a read rate around 80 percent. Compare that to email, which has a dismal read rate of 22 percent. If you think about it, if your phone vibrates, you instinctively glance down to see if it’s an important message.
4. Smartphone Capabilities: One of the great things about an app is that it has the ability to leverage the smartphone’s capabilities. For public-sector organizations and nonprofits, some of the things to consider include:
- GPS: the ability to provide directions and show resources on a map
- Push Notifications: already discussed above
- Camera: A picture says a thousand words, and the ability to send an image may be able to provide faster communication.
- Tap to Communicate: We take it for granted, but the ability to tap to email, call and text really facilitates communication.
5. Offline Mode: One of the biggest advantages of an app over a mobile website is the ability to work offline. A mobile website needs an Internet connection to function, whereas, if designed properly, an app can function without Internet access. This is best for a population that either has spotty data connection or, for economic reasons, cannot afford a data plan and rely on Wi-Fi connection.
For a public-sector organization or nonprofit, a native app is a communication tool that sits on their customers’ smartphone and, if used and promoted properly, will become invaluable.