Building a Custom Mobile App for Your Web App

By Ryan Vice | Posted on June 5, 2020


If you already have a web app, then you’re well aware of the benefits of a custom application for your business. Whether you’re using it to streamline internal operations or bring your unique services to your users, taking the time to develop a custom web app has certainly paid off for you. Now, it’s come time to consider how a custom mobile app could extend the capabilities of your software and aid you in achieving the long-term goals of your business. 

The benefits of mobile apps differ slightly from those of web apps. By their very nature, they are more ubiquitous and convenient for users. These qualities increase usability of your platform, and help to:

  • Provide better support: By providing users with a means of direct interaction with your platform at all times, you’ll be able to more readily respond to issues and help find solutions.
  • Simplify operations: Unlike a desktop, smartphones go everywhere we go, and your mobile app will always be on hand to complete a task, rather that’s collecting and storing data into a secure system or ordering food to go.
  • Directly market to customers: A custom mobile app can promote brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, support customers, share news and information and other marketing and sales activities.
  • Increase profitability: Having an easy-to-use mobile app will improve user satisfaction, and this will lead to an increase in profits as products and services become both easier to provide and easier to receive.
  • Improve accessibility: Most people already get online via a mobile device. A mobile app will improve their online experience by customizing the platform to the device they’re using.

A mobile app will help you deliver and/or perform your services more efficiently for customers. Creating a custom mobile app to accompany your web app takes some foreplanning, though. 

Creating a Mobile App to Go With Your Web App

First, Assess the Functionality of Your Web App

Before you dedicate time and money to developing a mobile app, take some time to scrutinize your web app with a careful eye. You should do this for two reasons. First, to make a mobile app that works in tandem with your original application, you need to understand how people are using it. Are all of their needs being met? Is there anything a web app is lacking? Is there something a mobile app can offer that will be useful and achievable? Your mobile app may offer unique features your web app cannot, or it may only serve to make your existing web app more accessible to users on the go. These are decisions you can only make after documenting user workflows and collecting feedback.

The second reason you need to take a hard look at your web app is to make sure it is up to date, that you aren’t planning any major overhauls in the codebase in the near future and that security for the system hasn’t been allowed to lapse. It would be incredibly frustrating to create a mobile app for your web app only to have to turn around and make significant updates to it because you didn’t adequately plan for it in your development roadmap. 

Determine Your Goals For a Mobile App

Consider the goals you have for what a mobile application should do for your company and its users. It’s important to not think in terms of not just how an app will be used, but what it needs to do to be counted a beneficial investment. A mobile app should not simply be the same features and experience of your web app copied and shrunk down for a mobile user. With new technologies available like the ability to access the camera to take in-app pictures and location services to help you track a user’s GPS location, a one-to-one migration completely misses opportunities for process improvement a mobile operating system provides you. 

Think critically about what you hope to gain from creating a mobile app and how you hope to utilize features that only a mobile device can deliver. 

Choose Your Flavor

Along with the goals of your custom mobile app, you also must decide which approach you’d like to take to develop it. This will have a lot of bearing on what capabilities are at your disposal, how much it will cost to develop, how much time it will take to develop and how users will interact with it. 

Native apps: are developed to perform a specific task in a particular environment or platform. They’re built using specific technology and coding language for a given platform. For instance, Android apps using Java or iOS apps using Swift. Because each app is built to the unique specifications of a platform, if you want to have your app available in several different app stores such as Windows, Apple and Android, you’ll have to build a different version for each of them. Native apps tend to run smoother, have better UX design, access to platform-specific security features and can interact with all the features of a device’s OS such as the camera, microphone or address book.

Hybrid apps: can be built for any platform from a single code base. Just like native apps, they can be acquired through a platform’s app store. They aren’t built the same way, though. Hybrid apps use web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript and run through webView, essentially allowing you to display web pages inside of your app. You may have less native capabilities with your hybrid app, but native plugins can help on that front. They do however offer faster and cheaper development and lower maintenance demands. 

Set Your Plan into Motion

After careful planning, goal-setting and budgeting, it’s time to begin creating assets for development. Your wireframes and flowcharts for your custom mobile app should reflect the design of your existing web app. If done well, these will be two applications working in tandem to create one seamless system, both in look and feel. 

Build Your Custom Mobile App Right the First Time

In order to maintain our high standards and deliver you the mobile app that fits all of your requirements, Vice Software utilizes modern, open-source toolkits that allow us to share code across platforms with a single code base. Our favorite is React Native.

With React, our team can create platform-specific versions of components, but only need one team to maintain the code of multiple platforms. Vice Software creates truly native apps with React Native complete with native-platform UI and an uncompromised user experience for users. With our approach, we build your application just once and then seamlessly deploy native versions to other platforms of your choice including iPhone, Android and more.

Throughout development, we remain in close contact with stakeholders to ensure your application is coming together just as you envisioned. With a dedicated Slack channel and bi-weekly demos, course corrections are a breeze and you’re never left in the dark.

Adding a custom mobile app to your technology suite can take a lot of careful roadmapping and analysis to ensure it aligns with the goals of your web app and your business. Fortunately, Vice Software has a lot of experience in this particular area. To get started on a project, all you need to do is share a bit about your ideas, and we’ll get you a quote right away!

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