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The Best Apps for Small Businesses

Heather Vacca - Monday, January 09, 2017
The Best Apps for Small Businesses

If you're a small business owner, you may be wondering what types of apps would best serve your customers and employees. Whether your business involves online shopping or door-to-door sales, developing an app to solve your problems can be a helpful and profitable idea. With this easy-to-follow guide, we'll show off some of the best ways your small business can benefit from developing a personalized mobile app.

Online Shopping

Many of the biggest retailers use mobile apps to facilitate purchases and bring in extra revenue. Retail businesses rely on the convenience of smartphone shopping to encourage spending, often with in-app deals and promotions. With plenty of great reasons for your business to have a mobile app, it's easy to see why an online shopping app will increase your business's sales and customer engagement. If you're overwhelmed at the thought of developing an entire online shopping app, our Mobiletek developers and designers can take care of all the details. If your small business relates to retail, an online shopping app is a must.

Customer Service

Customers logging complaints and communicating with support may find a mobile app to be the most convenient method of getting the help they need. Through custom app development, we're sure your small business can have a streamlined customer service experience. Smartphone application developers should tailor the smartphone app to its specific industry so it remains relevant to the customer. Whether customers need to resolve issues with orders or require technical help with products, a customer-focused mobile app will prove to be invaluable.

Company Communication

Whether your small business has a couple of members or a whole team of employees, it's vital to stay organized. Any small business can benefit from mobile apps that keep everyone connected and up-to-date. A bakery may use a personalized mobile app to keep consistent track of inventory, while a sales team may input info to a shared database for maximum organization. We are confident that anyone can benefit from a communicative mobile app tailored to their specific business or niche.

Loyalty Rewards

As Melanie Haselmayr points out in an insightful Forbes article about apps for small businesses, maintaining an app can seriously help with boosting visibility. Mobile app design companies know that marketing and reach are just as important as quality content. Your rewards app will keep your business in customers' minds as they check their smartphone throughout the day. If used wisely, you can even rely on push notifications to keep customers updated on what's going on in your small business. With a loyalty rewards app, your customers will spend more money and remember your business in the digital world.

How to Build on a Great App Idea

Heather Vacca - Friday, December 16, 2016
How to Build on a Great App Idea

Once you have a great app idea, how do you polish it into a gem your users will love? With these simple tips, you can easily understand how to bring your app idea to life and give it the success it deserves.

Add Value

Every mobile apps developer should consider how their app brings value to the customer. A great app idea should provide anything from expert advice to speedy services for a more engaging user experience. Our mobile app development services do just that by making people's lives easier. For example, we developed Mobiletek Classic with a focus on improving the daily tasks of shippers when it comes to deliveries and orders. With a specific need in mind, we were able to add value to customers and refine an already great app idea.

Marketing

In the overcrowded online world of mobile apps, it's more important than ever to get your app out there and show it to the right people. If you have a great app idea, you can make it even better by considering the best ways to get your finished product in the hands of users before you even start development. Marketing begins long before you publish a finished product. Whether you want to create an online shopping app or a social network, marketing is key. By integrating social media and fine-tuning your app to your potential audience, your great app idea is sure to succeed.

Prototyping

The best smartphone application developers know that a great idea is only a starting point. The most important aspect of the creative process is simply to put in the time making something that works. Once you create a prototype, you can iterate on that design to build something successful. A/B testing is a vital factor in prototyping to determine whether your design decisions are successful. Through A/B testing and iterative design, you can determine what works best and make data-based decisions, rather than trusting your gut. With our app development services, we'll be sure to deliver the best mobile app after a thorough development process.

Be Unique

At Mobiletek, we dream big. The world of mobile apps is overcrowded, so it's imperative to focus on individuality when designing and developing a mobile app. By creating something innovative and unique, we show our clients the value of ingenuity. Just what does it take to create something that stands out from the crowd? Our best advice is to search for any unmet needs in your industry. If you can solve a problem, your app could be the next big tool everyone relies on. When we designed hyperSHIP, we wanted to provide a detailed and straightforward way for businesses to sell items. By creating a stunning app that fills a need and stands out from the crowd, we were able to succeed. With these easy app development tips, your great app idea is sure to be a winner.

The Stages of Mobile App Growth

Heather Vacca - Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The Stages of Mobile App Growth

So you have an idea for an app: You know how you want to reach out to customers, how the user interface should look, and how everything should work together to give your customers precisely the experience they deserve. This is all great, but how do you ink in those rough sketches and print those mental blueprints to grow your idea into a real, marketable product?


Design

When first delivering your ideas to a mobile app creator, the first thing you may notice is that things might not line up exactly as they did in your head. Fear not—this is exactly what mobile app design companies prepare for. Custom mobile app developers like MobileTek work with you to flush out your ideas and deliver an app maximized to fit your needs. Offering custom-tailored mobile solutions and cross-platform development, we at MobileTek ensure that ideas get translated into workable solutions to deliver an incredible customer experience inside your app.


Discovery

The next stage in mobile app growth is discovery: How are people going to find your product? During this phase, it is important to both nail down what exactly your app does and does well, and also lock in the customer base that will benefit most from your product. Who needs what you do, and needs it badly? As Entrepreneur explains, "build a solution for them they can’t live without, and boom, you’ve got an organic spread for your product because they won’t stop talking about it." In other words, an app targeted towards a certain group will sell itself through discovery and referral.


Devotion

Once your app has been downloaded, how do you make sure it stays fresh and useful for the user? Over a quarter of all apps get used just once before getting chucked into the recycle bin. If you've delivered a quality app to your niche, you may avoid landing in this 25%. However, it still may be useful to re-engage with users over time. Push notifications are one way to bring users back, but only if employed astutely—an app that pings you to return 10 times a day is sure to land itself in the trash.


Custom mobile app development is not a straight line, but a cycle. After these three stages, be prepared to analyze your app's performance and restart the process to ensure your app is working toward maximum growth. Collaborating with a mobile app design company is one way to nail down a successful design early on, and MobileTek can deliver a high-quality and responsive mobile app customized to your needs. Whether you're on your first or fortieth development cycle, we can take your vision and install our passion to create an enticing mobile experience for your customers.


How to Appeal to Tech-Minded Millennials

Heather Vacca - Tuesday, November 08, 2016
How to Appeal to Tech-Minded Millennials

Many Millennials live in small, overpriced spaces, which means they are constantly outside seeking affordable entertainment. Instead of spending money on furniture or appliances, they are spending money on coffee, craft brew and mobile apps that support their interests and behaviors. So, if you want to appeal to Millennials, then try appealing to their sense of affordability and to their mobile lifestyle. Here a few ways you can do that.


Excite Your Mobile Workforce

Forget about the desktop interface. Not entirely of course, but most Millennials engage with mobile apps. If your company’s mobile interface is poor, then it is likely for Millennials to become skeptical of your entire organization. Smartphone apps development is key in keeping your mobile workforce engaged and productive. A good mobile phone app developer understands how users engage with the app, not just why. Making an app usable, whether it is incorporating scanning technologies for front-line supply chain employees or providing an intuitive dashboard for managers and executives, results in an effective app that users actually use.

Suhas Uliyar of Oracle notes that, “An engaging and personalized user experience has become the new weapon in the battle to attract and retain millennial customers. Businesses that cannot add value for customers with a more convenient, functional, and relevant mobile experience have little chance of coming out on top.”


Customize Your App Delivery

Millennials have come to expect a seamless user experience, whether through consumer or work-related apps. For work-related applications, these digital natives know the information they need to make informed decisions and they want that information at their fingertips, literally. Apps like Mobiletek’s hyperSHIP provide both consumer and employee with customized data delivery. On the consumer side, orders are tracked in real-time. On the organization side, data regarding consumer habits and behavior are used for future decision-making. This is one example of an app that appeals to both Millennial consumers and Millennial employees.

If you want to keep your workforce engaged, then model your organization's apps after successful consumer apps. Custom mobile app development is key. Survey your employees to find out which apps they use regularly and why. Then, when a mobile application developer steps in to build your business' app, they have a realistic idea of user expectations.


What about affordability?

Millennials not only pay attention to how their money is spent, but they are generally more aware of limited resources than prior generations. When they choose their technology, they keep its limitations in mind and are careful not to pay for extras they don't intend to use. This means that your company's mobile app developer has to pay attention to the size of the app they develop. Phone memory is not infinite and Millenials are known to be "picky about their download choices." You want to ensure that they download your business' app and use it successfully.

Keeping your organization's' applications customized, efficient and mobile ready increases their Millennial appeal.


What to Look For in Hosting Services

Heather Vacca - Tuesday, October 18, 2016
What to Look For in Hosting Services

Smartphone application developers eventually need hosting services for some component of their apps. Either they must host a website with various integration points, or they need a high-performance back-end for exchanging data and running tasks. If you've never picked a hosting company before, the process may seem overwhelming and difficult. Here are a few key points to look out for when choosing the best host for your mobile application.


Pay for Quality

The most important rule in picking a great host is realizing that you get what you pay for. The barrier for entering the hosting business is quite low. Anyone with a reasonably fast connection and a few cast-off servers can start a hosting company, and after spending lots of money and time on cross platform mobile development, it might seem tempting to save a bit of money on server costs.

But a good hosting company is more than a few servers in someone's basement. Pick a company with a reputable-looking website. Read reviews, and learn if other developers have had success stories launching apps with that host. But understand that a good-looking site and a well-reviewed infrastructure costs money to build. It will, in turn, cost money to use.


Don’t Limit Yourself

Next, choose a host that offers room to grow. Many low-end hosts offer only one type of hosting, the shared model, in which many sites and databases are packed onto a single server and connection. Shared hosting is a great way to start out easily and on a budget, though you'll quickly reach its limits if your app takes off.

A good host should offer a variety of options, including both shared hosting and virtual private servers. You may not need a VPS when starting out, and indeed may lack the expertise to administer your own server. But if you ever grow to the point where these are possibilities, making a lateral move within the same hosting company is usually significantly easier than starting from scratch. Further, since they're keeping you as a customer, your host may provide migration support that would otherwise be unavailable were you to move away to a different company.

Excellent Customer Support

Finally, pick a host that seems more likely to provide good customer support. It can be difficult to evaluate customer service without first experiencing a problem, at which point the discovery that it is sub-par has arrived too late.

One easy trick for evaluating customer service without first experiencing a problem is to study a company's social media presence. Many customers commonly use Twitter and Facebook as their first support channel to a company. If a host responds promptly to complaints and seems to satisfy customers, then it makes sense that their response to your challenges will also be positive. If social media accounts are inactive, or if customers do not receive responses, then one might reasonably conclude that those same tendencies would be present in official customer support channels.


Steps to Avoid When Building a New App

Heather Vacca - Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Steps to Avoid When Building a New App

Everyone seems to have an idea for the next great app. Unfortunately, it's easy to get swept up in the drama of realizing your new idea, pushing reason aside. If you're ready to transition from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur and create something of value, with recurring revenue and a loyal customer base, read on to learn how the best smartphone application developers build great products.


Don’t Underestimate a Business Model

Start by understanding that app development is not only a story, but a business as well. Sure, you'll want to tell customers stories about their pain points and about how your app will solve them. You'll tell the press stories about how your company was founded and about why you believe that your solution to any given problem is the best. But to get there, you'll need a solid business built on firm principles.


Be Sure to Solve a Problem

Without customers, you don't have a business. To get customers, solve problems that people actually have, or that they are willing to pay to solve. An app that summons on-demand dog-walkers may make for great stories or for fun conversations around the dinner table. But if no one will pay you for such a service, then you are not likely to build a profitable app from it and risk losing money. Most app developers hope to find a market for their hard work and financial investment.


Know Your Limitations

Next, know your tools and their limitations. A phone app creator is great for getting started quickly, but many options severely limit the features you can add by restricting the platform functionality they expose. HTML 5 has a rich set of features and runs on all modern platforms, but does not look native and lacks deep platform integration.


For best results, hire out cross platform mobile development to experienced companies with proven track records. You can also learn Android and iOS development on your own, though expect to spend lots of time both learning the platforms and keeping up with changes. Whichever route you choose, it is important to know your foundations, and to understand the advantages and tradeoffs each offers.


Expect the Unexpected

Building a good app is about more than taking the process seriously and building on a good foundation. You must also be willing to change, or to recognize when an idea has failed. Perhaps that video chat app you've developed might be more successful as a customer service portal, and you may need to pivot into a new line of business to continue. Or perhaps an idea never got traction, and it would be best to shut it down and move on to something else. Building good apps is challenging and often those who succeed have done so not due to random luck their first time out, but because they've tried many things that did not quite work as expected.


Tips for Designing Apps for Specific Markets

Heather Vacca - Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Tips for Designing Apps for Specific Markets

Custom mobile app development is opening up many new markets. With deep hardware integrations spanning from home automation to healthcare, entire new classes of products can now be developed by mobile app design companies. But anyone wishing to enter a new market should do so smartly. If you have a great idea for a mobile app for a new, untapped market, here is how to begin its design process.

Find Your Customers

Customers are certainly important factor that determines if an app will sell, but they're also your initial testers. Before writing a single line of code or beginning work on a proposal, find your app's potential customers and pitch them the idea.

The most obvious place to search for potential customers are forums, mailing lists, Facebook groups, and anywhere else that your target demographic meets online. Don't neglect offline media, either. Magazines, trade publications, or even self-published newsletters can be huge in certain demographics. A less technical market might be a harder sell, but may also prove lucrative if it can be convinced that a custom mobile app might give them an edge.


Test a Hypothesis

When you've found a market, don't immediately start building a mobile app. Instead, determine the minimum viable product necessary to prove out the concept, and build only that small piece of your final vision. It is tempting to build a large app, but many problems can arise at this stage that would make building a monolithic app an expensive mistake.

For instance, the problem you've identified may not be one the market as a whole experiences, meaning you've built something no one wants. It could also be that you've identified a valid problem, but that your proposed solution is lacking a vital feature, making it unsatisfactory. You may also have missed a simpler problem of which you were entirely unaware.


Build Credibility

Once you've found your customers, identified a problem they have, and developed a solution they enjoy, build credibility with the market. Don't simply blog about your product, but also work to provide valuable resources that keep customers engaged.

In becoming a resource for customers, you may discover other problems they are experiencing  that are great candidates for new features or apps. Having a broader presence in a single market not only bolsters sales for an initial app, it makes new development for those same demographics easier and more rewarding.


The Anatomy of a Viral App

Heather Vacca - Tuesday, September 13, 2016
The Anatomy of a Viral App

Have you ever wondered how some apps go viral virtually overnight? Everyone dreams of creating something that millions of people will find fun, useful, and downright addicting. What they don’t understand is that creating something so influential that people can’t seem to get away from actually has a science behind it. It is said that apps are born viral. But really, apps are born viral only if they are created with virality in mind.

It helps to know what “viral” even means. “Virality” is defined as “how many new customers will use the products as a consequence of each new customer who signs up”. There are a few basic principles to keep in mind when brainstorming your app’s functionality. These include finding your niche, connecting with emotions and vanity, drawing the user in during the onboarding process, and making sure that your app is trustworthy.

It is vital to fully know and understand who your audience is before commencing the creation process. Truly knowing your audience enables you to understand what your ideal user needs and wants before they even realize it themselves. It doesn't matter if your idea is not 100% unique, as long as it serves your niche audience better than your competitors.

Tapping into a user’s emotions may be one of the simpler roads on the journey to making an app viral. Whether we are excited, angry, entertained or anything in between, it is our nature as humans in a technology driven world to share our feelings. Congratulating your user or sending them funny push notifications may just bring a level of satisfaction to their life that keeps them coming back for more. Vanity aids in the sharing process as well because users want to share information that makes them look good.

It is important to draw a user in right from the onboarding process because this is one of the first experiences the user has with your app. Because of this, the process should not be boring, complicated or lengthy. The step by step flow should be an intuitive process. This is also a great time to gain valuable information about the user such as an email address or a connection to their Facebook profile. That being said, trustworthiness is another key feature that all viral apps should have, so make sure you prompt your user on what information of theirs is being shared.

The viral coefficient is the secret sauce in any popular app and can be calculated through the formula N x P1 x P2. N being the average number of new users each active user invites, P1 being the proportion of invited users who become active users and P2 being the proportion of users who invite other people. In order for an app to go viral, it must have a viral coefficient greater than 1. This will ensure that your app will have exponential growth. If, however, your app has a viral coefficient less than 1, your app will not experience much growth at all. Note that “timing” is one variable missing from the formula. Understanding the time range that it will take a user to share your app with their network is a key ingredient.

Once you have ensured that your app is solving a problem, providing value and appealing to a specific niche, it is time to start thinking about the viral loop. The viral loop is when users create more users that increase the engagement of existing users. As users continue to share and become more and more engaged with the app, the overall value will start to increase. The viral loop will allow an app to have a lower cost of user acquisition.

It would be a shame if the launch was not as successful as you hoped. Simply uploading to the app store will not ensure that your app makes it to the top charts. It is vital at this stage to improve your apps recognition. It is suggested that Tuesday is the best day to launch an app because it allows for four whole days before the weekend for the app to climb rankings. Aside from featuring an app on Apple and Google app stores, many developers forget to feature their apps on other stores like Amazon and Windows. Amazon even offers the option to make an app free on the first day of launch. This could help increase the initial download volume. Additionally, a little PR can go a long way if done properly. Pitching an app to popular review and technology sites for a mention could be of great help in getting the word out about a new app. Social media and video promotion are also useful tactics when marketing a brand new app.

Even though your app has been created with virality in mind, there are still a few tests that it will need to pass to ensure that it will hit the ground running. Your app needs to have something that is valuable to users that they will want to share with their network. This should make the consumer excited and should be something that they can easily share. The main functions should be simple. Sharing and onboarding should be designed with as little steps as possible and one click is preferred. Another resourceful option is offering rewards and incentives to encourage certain behavior such as sharing and referrals. Rewards can include free upgrades, themes, characters, discounts, etc. Notifications and reminders should be implemented to keep reward tactics and core features at the forefront. However, there is a fine line between useful reminders and spam.

It can’t be stated enough how important it is to keep virality in mind when creating your app. Virality is something that needs to be embedded in the core of your application. Gamification of the app will help create a need for belonging as well as incentives and competition between users. It is this community feeling that promotes shares by satisfied users and makes an app go viral. Speak with a MobileTek expert today to learn more how they can aid in the creation of your app.

The Best Apps for Educating Children

Heather Vacca - Wednesday, September 07, 2016
The Best Apps for Educating Children

Application development for mobile platforms has opened up new opportunities in many areas. One such is education. Not only do apps change how the classroom itself works, but games with a learning element manage to teach children without them even realizing it. If you are considering creating a custom mobile app in the education space, here are a few of the best apps from which to draw inspiration.

Read - Kids Learn to Read and Write in 20 Lessons

The name may be long, but no one can claim to not know what this app achieves. Read helps children develop reading skills and master phonics and other necessary skills. Kids also boost their reading comprehension with sight word recognition exercises.

This app also teaches writing. In addition to learning useful letter combinations, children are asked to trace the letters that they read and sound out. This mobile app is a great way to jumpstart a child's reading comprehension and handwriting skills, and is a bargain at $4.99.

Moonlight Hide and Seek

Educational apps also help with early math skills. Moonlight Hide and Seek is a storybook-style math learning game that teaches through illustrations and an engaging plot. As the story unfolds, children get opportunities to practice their subtraction skills.

Moonlight is also cross-modal in that it also lets children read the story that accompanies the illustrations. If kids would rather not read, or find it easier to focus on only the math, a "read to me" feature lets the app speak the story while children focus on the math. This is a great example of how mobile apps can engage more than one skill while still promoting focus and specialization.

Sago Mini Robot Party

Self expression is as important for children to develop as are reading and science. To that end, Sago Mini Robot Party offers toddlers the ability to express themselves by creating their own mini robots. Creations can then attend a robot party, where they are put through their paces performing fun tasks like making music and decorating cupcakes.

This app is also cross-modal in that kids can indulge artistic talents. They also learn basic scientific and engineering concepts by constructing their robots, which must be able to perform actions later. In essence, kids get to build their own project which they must then use in a party setting, skills that will serve them later in life when developing solutions to complex problems.

Veggies & Fruits

Nutrition is important to a child's developing body. Yet much of the advertising industry encourages making unhealthy choices. Veggies & Fruits teaches kids about healthier options, helping them to grow excited about these better choices.

Kids play games, see rich illustrations, and learn valuable facts about more wholesome food choices. This app is also bilingual, delivering healthy educational information in both English and French.


Responsive Design: Why It's Important

Heather Vacca - Friday, August 19, 2016
Responsive Design: Why It's Important

Spend any time investigating application development for mobile platforms, and you've doubtless encountered the concept of responsive design. It seems to be important, that everyone is doing it, yet understanding why it matters can prove elusive. Responsive design does indeed matter and here is why top mobile app design companies encourage it.


Meet Your Consumers Where They Are

Previous web designers had it simple: Build a site, test for issues in the top web browsers, and everything would just work. If screen size was ever a design consideration, it was assumed that either a small laptop or large monitor were all that viewers would use.

Today's custom mobile app development landscape is much more complex. Consumers still use laptops and desktops. But if an app or site isn't built for the phone and tablet, it will lose customers. Future requirements will only grow more complex, with apps and sites expected to render on glasses heads-up displays, watch faces, and form factors we haven't imagined.

Responsive design ensures that apps and sites scale to appropriate dimensions on a variety of platforms. By sizing themselves appropriately, and by selectively removing unnecessary elements, a site or app can run wherever it must.


Be Found Quicker

As internet use scales down and goes mobile, consumers expect the results of their searches to work well on handheld devices and tablets. The entire business of the search engine revolves around serving up useful results. If search results don't drive engagement, then the algorithm that generates them must be tuned to achieve better accuracy.

Because of increased mobile demand, Google and others have begun prioritizing sites not just on their keywords, but also by how they are presented. If a site features responsive design, and looks good on every platform, it is likely to outrank less relevant sites that only work well on larger devices.


Make Your Job Easier

Previously, if someone wanted to create a mobile-specific site, the best practice was to make it entirely separate. The full-featured site worked well on desktops and laptops. By contrast, the slimmer mobile version stripped out features and design elements in order to fit the smaller form factor.

This trend proved to be a nightmare. Many organizations struggle to maintain a single site. Adding another with drastically different requirements resulted in it either not getting done, or in a mobile site whose functionality drifted so far from that of the normal version that the experiences diverged significantly.

Responsive design lets organizations and businesses maintain a single site, with one set of content and features across all platforms. Not only is this easy to develop, but it also simplifies marketing. With a single responsive site, SEO and advertising campaigns can drive all traffic to a single destination.


Be Proactive

Responsive design is crucial to the success of any modern online presence. If you rely on a web or mobile app for your success, you owe it to yourself to ensure that it is designed responsively.



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