Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Developing a Mobile App

Lindy Dreyer over at Social Fish has a great blog post about mobile apps for associations. Are they a waste of time?

We had some extra money in the budget to use by the end of the year, so we decided to dip our toe in the app world. We did a quick survey and found that 2/3 of our members who use smart phones use Blackberry, 1/3 iPhone, and one using an Android. So we took one of our products, a listing of crane hand signals and their graphic representations, and made it an app. OSHA just passed a regulation on cranes and derricks, so it is timely.

Here is what I learned in the process.
- You have to register as a developer with both Blackberry and Apple. This step takes time. I thought our vendor was registered and could just put it up, but if we wanted our name on it, we needed to have our own vendor account. Again, this is not a short process. Even if you are just thinking about doing an app, register now. Apple does charge $99 per year.

- Spend the extra time mapping out exactly how you want it to function and how you want it to look. Remember, graphics on the phone are small, so be sure you have them setup appropriately (contrast, colors, etc)

- Free vs. Paid - tough call. Know your members. What is the content of the app? Is it a service or a revenue center.

And for the big piece of info you wanted to know - we paid $2500 total to have it done on both platforms. But it was a pretty simple app and we had the graphics already. Nothing new needed to be created.

I checked the stats and we have over 600 downloads in under 10 days. I am guessing many of those are non-members and non-industry related, but that's pretty good numbers!


Dave Martin said...

What has been the success of the app in terms of a) downloads and b) feedback?

Matt Baehr said...

Sorry Dave, I posted my update before I saw your comment. Downloads are way beyond what I thought, but I think many are "spam downloads" if there is such a thing. Just random people in foreign countries downloading every app under the sun.

But feedback has been very positive. Members, trade press and others have been very complimentary.

Maggie McGary said...

That's a really good suggestion about registering NOW, in anticipation of doing an app at some point.

Now--what's your call on this: a member contacts your association saying they've developed an app that includes content created by your association (say a Twitter or blog feed). They intend to charge for the app. Do you grant permission or not? Hypothetically-speaking only, of course ;)

Tony Rossell said...

Matt -- Another very helpful and practical post from you. Thanks so much. Tony