If you’re asking this question, you’re not alone!
The short answer? It’s easier to use and will ultimately result in increased engagement, leading to better community participation and vibrancy. But if you’d like a little more detail, I understand, read on.
It’s not necessary to explain how much people are on their phones these days. While many people are on their computers during work hours, the phone is always accessible and has the convenience of privacy. So, you say, my website is mobile-friendly – doesn’t that tick the box for being accessible on my audience’s mobile phones? The answer, is no, not quite – a mobile-friendly website is a good start, but there’s something missing there.
In many respects, the value of a mobile app comes down to convenience. Analysis shows that the mobile app versions of their website counterparts are more popular because they are more convenient. Mobile apps provide a better user experience, are easier to access, and even load content faster than websites.
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Kelly Mitch of Woodbridge, NJ says, “Since most people have smartphones, it makes sense for us to have a resource available to our residents that they can access so easily. We are always trying to think of ways to support our small businesses, and our WoodbridgeNow App is the perfect way to do that.”
Let’s dig into some of the details…
1. Native App Features Shine
By nature, mobile apps are designed specifically for the mobile phone and mobile user in mind. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a native app would make better use of the phone’s native features. In the case of towns and business districts, there are several native phone features that a mobile app can work more seamlessly with. For example, integration with the GPS to easily get directions to businesses, convenient click-to-call phone numbers, and push notifications.
Mobile websites simply don’t function as well on mobile phones, especially with developers having to design for both the desktop and mobile versions at the same time. To accommodate for this, they need to make concessions that ultimately inhibit the quality of mobile websites.
90% of users prefer using mobile applications over mobile websites.
– Flurry analytics
2. The Immediacy of Push Notifications
This could be the most valuable feature of all. Sending a push notification is similar to sending a text message out to anyone who’s interested in what your town or business district has to say. It puts your communication front and center. Instead of just putting things out in the periphery of people’s vision (posters, flyers, emails, etc.), it pops up right in front of their eyes on a device that humans are glued to these days. This is incredibly effective in engaging your audience.
3. Making it Personal
You have a lot of different types of people you need to serve. A mobile app can allow users to set preferences, create personal accounts, and makes it easy to keep the information that’s most valuable to them at hand.
Mobile users spend 88% of their time on mobile apps and just 12% of the time on mobile websites. eMarketer
4. A Chance to Brand
When developing something new to you, like a mobile app, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with or introduce a new brand. It’s one small bite, with the option of changing it if you find it doesn’t end up being the right fit. If you’re happy with the results, however, that’s your cue to apply the brand to other parts of your branding. In the case of the WoodbridgeNow app, they’re launching a sub-brand through the app. As Mitch explains, “We are super excited for our new icon that highlights minority-owned businesses. Since Woodbridge is such a diverse town, it is important to support the various cultures that make up our constituency.”
5. Make Your Community Shine
People are flipping through the screens of their phones all day. This means that with your town app installed on their phones, they’re more than likely to get a glimpse of your brand, even if they don’t open it in that moment. That means your town or business district is more likely to be top-of-mind when it’s time for town residents to think about events to attend and places to shop. All good things for your community.
6. Apps are Faster
Simply put, apps work faster than mobile websites. This means users get valuable and timely information without the frustration of slow load times, which increases user satisfaction and retention. Another way to put it is, with an app, your community is more likely to use it to help them decide where they’re going to spend their weekends and dollars.
Downtown businesses are competing with retailers that provide lightning-fast delivery and online convenience. Now more than ever, it is essential for communities to expand their presence and support local commerce in the best way possible – with a mobile app – rather than relying on a mobile website.
Find out if you’re ready to take the next step in developing your own town or business district mobile app. Read the MAPP (Mobile App Planning Pack) to plan your journey to a more vibrant and engaged local community.