Table of Contents
- What’s the difference between an app and a website?
- How towns use their customized app
- From the perspective of a town resident
- How apps help your town make connections
- From the viewpoint of the town leadership
- How to get started creating a customized mobile app
- How to select the right developer for your mobile app
- Ensuring your app is a valuable resource for your community
- A guide to designing your town’s exclusive mobile app
Your Ultimate Guide To Design Your Town's Exclusive Mobile App
Your town is special. Maybe it’s the city where you grew up, and you can’t imagine living anywhere else. Or you are new to the area and are excited to experience everything your town has to offer. In today’s digital world, you’d like to have all the information about events and activities at your fingertips. Locally, the best and easiest way to do that is with a customized app specifically designed for your town created by MyDowntown Mobile®.
Here’s the ultimate guide to everything you need to know about creating an exclusive mobile app, how other towns are using their version, what you need to get started and the benefits for your community:
What’s the difference between an app and a website?
You may be wondering what the app can do that your website can’t. The website for your town probably has lots of valuable information for everyone in the community, but how friendly is it on mobile phones? In the past, when everyone used computers at their desks, websites were great. But now that we all have phones in our pockets, how does your website function?
Mobile users spend 88% of their time on mobile apps and just 12% of the time on mobile websites. eMarketer
Analysis shows that mobile app versions of their website counterparts are more popular because they are more convenient.Is your website integrated with GPS to easily get directions to businesses, allow click-to-call phone numbers, or send push notifications? Enabling pop-ups of push notifications lets the residents of your town know about an event or sale so they don’t miss out. It puts text communication right at the user’s fingertips and increases engagement.
And since apps work quicker, you’ll get valuable and timely information without the frustration of slow load times that decrease satisfaction and retention.
Each resident has the ability to customize the app, making it more personal and specifying what information is important to them. You won’t have to remember how to find the events listing or keep searching for everyday services, such as what day of the week trash is collected.
As residents flip through their phones, they’ll see the recognizable town brand icon for the app, ensuring your town and business district are top of mind. Members of the community will look locally for places to shop and activities for the kids. That translates to spending their money within the town.
As downtown businesses compete with outside retailers, it's essential to keep the reliable, fast and easily accessible community presence offered by a customized app designed by MyDowntown Mobile®.
How towns use their customized app
Since apps are more friendly than websites, other municipalities have decided to create their own town-customized mobile apps to meet their needs. The towns of Hainesport, Springfield and Glassboro have all been reaping the benefits of having customized apps. Each community has its own goals that the app helps to accomplish.
Hainesport’s goal is to get residents together for events and build awareness of municipal announcements. Instead of the expense and time of putting up posters, community messages can be sent directly to the residents through their app with the push notification feature.Residents are updated with all the latest information by receiving details directly on their phones.
Maximizing these tools for good, Hainesport has become a more vibrant and engaged community with the app created by MyDowntown Mobile® .
Springfield was focused on redeveloping their downtown and using marketing to encourage business. With the printed company directory out of date, it was difficult to build awareness for the local shops. With the information now available in the app, all the businesses can be listed including details like the operating hours, location, phone numbers, and links to their websites. Push notifications will let residents in Springfield know if a business is promoting an exclusive deal so they don’t miss out on the sales.
Now that Springfield is promoting their town’s app, businesses get more exposure, and their customers find them easier.
Like Springfield, the Borough of Glassboro wanted successful businesses but they had another issue. Town Hall was constantly flooded with calls asking, “When is garbage pickup?” and “What time are the fireworks?” The Borough staff found themselves repeating the same information. Residents who called after hours or on the weekends would have to wait to get answers.
By putting Glassboro’s information into the mobile app, residents can now find the answers quickly and easily, freeing up the municipal workers with the opportunity to invest time in bettering the town.
When representatives from each town came to us, each of them had specific goals, and the customized app developed by MyDowntown Mobile® was designed to help the communities achieve them.
From the perspective of a town resident
You can see the benefits of the app as someone on the municipal committee, part of the Downtown Alliance or a member of theBusiness Improvement District (BID) or the Special Improvement District (SID), but what about from the perspective of a town resident?
Parents are often looking for fun activities for their children over the weekend, so they don’t stay cooped up indoors watching hours of television. With an app customized for your specific town created by MyDowntown Mobile®, you’ll have all the information you need to reduce the stress of searching for things to do and give you opportunities to enjoy your local community and neighborhood businesses.
Saturday morning might find you seeking out the local bakery to take advantage of their exclusive app specials before walking with the children to the library for storytime. Seeing posters with concert information, you might check your app to see the full event details.Perhaps you’ll discover that there is a fundraising event for the local soup kitchen and you can buy raffle tickets online through the app.
You may find yourself shopping in the downtown district in the afternoon, always checking to see if any of the local businesses are running bonus deals for residents using the app.
Before you drive around looking for parking, check the app to see the best lots to park in. And take another glance to see what refreshments will be served at the evening concert to see if you need to pack snacks from home.
When you are looking for local events and activities to do with your family, the town app created by MyDowntown Mobile® will keep you updated. With a directory of the neighborhood stores, information about upcoming events and reminder notifications, you are sure not to miss out on any of the fun happening in your community. You can find fun things to do with your kids, places to eat, locations to visit and exclusive discounts at the local stores.
How apps help your town make connections
Though each resident has their specific needs for their mobile application, the mobile industry as a whole is thriving with over 6.92 billion smartphone users across the world. Seeing the statistics for mobile app usage, it’s no surprise that towns are creating their own applications to make better connections with their residents. After all, the average American checks their phone every 5.5minutes, totaling 344 times per day!
A mobile app can help you build a strong community offline, promote local shopping, and notify residents of important alerts. Plus, there are other key benefits that can help your town connect:
- Customized apps like the one designed by MyDowntown Mobile® will reinforce and express your existing town brand and unique identity.
- A directory listing of local stores lets the residents know the details of the businesses to promote shopping within the town.
- Develop a strong sense of community and encourage participation by highlighting events in the area.
- Keep your residents connected with exclusive coupons that are available only through the mobile app.
- Push notifications are a great way to make sure the people in the community have all the latest information at their fingertips.
Here are additional ways to help the community connect and interact that mobile app technology can provide:
- Be connected to the information you want to know right from the people who know it ― without having to get them to the town hall with polls and surveys.
- Offer access to social media and external links on a customized app created by MyDowntown Mobile®.
- Connect residents with information from the local news.
- Your town residents will love the photos and videos to keep them connected and up to date.
- Geo-location provides members of the community with directions to new and exciting businesses so they don't get lost.
Mobile phone and app usage are growing at a steady rate with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. So hone these developments as means to connect your community.
From the viewpoint of the town leadership
It’s clear that having a customized app like the one designed by MyDowntown Mobile® can help connect the community, but as a leader, you also want to make decisions you believe to be right for your town. The app is a curated experience for residents, visitors, and businesses with consolidated and targeted information quickly and easily accessible, especially if you are on the go.
Information can be pulled into the app from your town and community websites, social media accounts, and relevant Facebook groups. By including information from business directories, you’ll help promote local merchants.
Knowing what data to include and how to keep the information current depends on your town’s needs and resources. You can choose which data best fits your town to include in the design for your town’s exclusive mobile app. Help your town thrive by providing residents, visitors and businesses with a single place to get information. Staying top of mind makes your town especially vibrant.
How to get started creating a customized mobile app
Now that you’ve read about the benefits of a mobile app and decided that you are ready, how do you get started? Here are 7 questions that can help you on your way to creating the best app possible to meet your needs:
- Start by outlining your current situation.Knowing where you are will help you know where you want to go.
- How do you draw people to your town and its businesses? It’s time to think about the best strategy for your community.
- How will you determine the success of the mobile app? Are you looking for a bustling main street or increased attendance for community events? Or both?
- How do you want people to feel when they use your mobile app? Excited, connected, confident, informed? This helps determine the design and content that you include.
- Who are the primary people the mobile app is created for? You want to identify your target audience to effectively engage and provide them value.
- What are the budget, timeframes, and boundaries for the project? Putting this information clearly into perspective helps ensure the app becomes a reality.
- What do your town and its businesses really mean to you? Understanding the reason why you love your town and what is possible to achieve will help make your customized mobile app a success.
By answering these questions, you'll be off toa great start in making sure that the customized mobile app meets and even exceeds your expectations.
How to select the right developer for your mobile app
You’ve decided what you want the app to do, how you want people to feel when they use it and your budget and timeframe, but how do you select the right developer to design your town’s exclusive mobile app? If you’re going to invest the time and money, make sure you have the right people working for you with the right skill set to create the mobile app that suits your community’s unique needs.
Here are 10 questions to help you choose the design and development team right for you:
- What unique value does the developer have for your specific mobile app goals?
- How can the designer add value to your mobile app so that you maximize the return on investment?
- Does the developer offer a pre-design analysis service to help move you effectively and efficiently toward the design and development phases?
- What are the specific challenges for what you’re looking for in a mobile app, and how has the designer overcome these in the past?
- If the budget, timeline and scope for your mobile app are unrealistic, will the designer let you know?
- How would the developer share their ideas, images, needs, wants and research?
- What can the developer do to help deliver the best mobile app for you?
- Does the developer have a team game plan that outlines how they will all successfully work together, even under pressure?
- Will the designer make sure that your mobile app is optimized to be the most effective it can be for your goals?
- What educational material could the developer provide so you can understand the requirements of your specific mobile app needs?
Ensuring your app is a valuable resource for your community
Once you’ve chosen your developer, built your app and are ready to launch, you still need to make sure that the community uses the resource you’ve created. It’s a great tool to have your town connected.
Follow these 7 steps to ensure that it continues to be successful:
- Start with a good foundation by launching your mobile app with as much information as possible. First impressions make all the difference in success. If your residents love what they see right away, they are sure to come back for more.
- Fill it up with exclusive content.Having exclusive app-only offers encourages your community to be part of the club.
- Promote the app. If your residents don’t know about it, they won’t use it. So be sure to advertise and promote through all the channels (social media, your website, posters in business windows, flyers, etc.).
- Remind the residents about the information that’s easily available and at their fingertips through the app with push notifications.
- Get the community involved.Encourage organizations and other community members to give you current data including deals and updates to business information, so the app always has the latest and greatest news.
- Partner with other community members so the movers and shakers in your neighborhood can supply content.
- Check those less-updated sections and periodically check links to make sure that your mobile app is functioning.There’s nothing worse than going to a link to find out about changes in garbage pickup to find that the link is broken!
A guide to designing your town’s exclusive mobile app
Your town probably has a website, but with the ever-increasing usage of mobile phones, having a customized app for your town can make all the difference. Other New Jersey towns are jumping on the bandwagon and creating apps that will help promote their local businesses and keep their communities thriving. Residents of the town can easily access information and updates on events so they can be engaged with the activities your town has to offer.
Community members want ways to stay connected. They look to the leadership to use current technology and implement tools that can help local businesses grow and streamline the flow of information.
Creating a mobile app for your town isn’t complicated when you have details of how to start and know how to choose the right developer. And once the app is running, you’ll have a plan in place to make sure it stays updated with current information and continues to be a valuable resource for all the residents of your town.
If you are interested in learning more about how to design your town’s exclusive mobile app, schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation.