From email to e-commerce, every business that exists today relies on a number of different applications to stay afloat. Even as I’m writing this, I’m using at least seven different applications to get work done.
You might feel like you already have the applications you need to succeed, but if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “There’s gotta be a better way” or “I wish this software could…” you’re already at step #1 of the custom app development process.
Custom vs. Commercial
Before we get into how custom apps benefit your business, let’s start talking about exactly what constitutes a web app. Broadly speaking, all apps—both web and mobile– are software programs that help users perform tasks.
Most people’s initial idea of an app is something they use on their smartphone, like Instagram or a weather app—these are appropriately called mobile apps for their use on mobile smartphones. Users download this software onto their devices and use it to help perform tasks, like sharing pictures of sourdough or checking the weather.
The other type of apps are web apps, which provide the same functionality as mobile apps, but without the need to download any software. Users access web apps online through a browser instead of downloading it straight to a device. Google Docs, for example, is a web app because you use it over an internet browser, unlike Microsoft Word, which you have to download to your device to use.
The vast majority of apps you use are publicly available, off-the-shelf applications developed to be used by a wide audience. But these aren’t your only app options. Web developers, like Happy Medium, can build you an application to specifically help your business function.
Let’s start talking about why that might be a good idea.
Are the Tools You Have the Right Ones?
Think of every app, both mobile and web, as tools in a toolbox for your business. The apps in use vary widely by business, but the most commonly used apps or software for small businesses are:
- Document creation, spreadsheet, and presentation
- HR and payroll applications
- Inventory management
- Invoicing and payment applications
- Email marketing services
- Project management apps
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Like tools in a toolbox, each application is designed to accomplish a specific task in a specific circumstance. A flathead screwdriver is excellent for installing or removing flathead screws, but is absolutely useless at cutting wire—the same way your project management application is great at creating Gantt charts but less effective at tracking payroll.
The problem lies in the fact that many businesses have hyper-specific application needs, but they only use off-the-shelf software to get the job done. You can technically use a wrench to hammer a nail, but it’s not the best tool for the job.
A custom web application is an application that is designed to meet your specific needs. Like a custom suit tailored to your body, a custom web app is tailored to your business and your operations. You might be getting the job done now, but few businesses can thrive with cookie-cutter solutions. Here are some reasons why a custom web app is a good solution for your business.
Custom Application Capabilities
The clear benefit of custom web app development is having an app built specifically for your business operations. Every business is different, which means every business operates differently. Our team can work with your business to understand your needs and build a truly custom solution.
Exactly what your business needs depends on a lot of factors, but here are some of the biggest advancements a custom application can provide.
Dashboarding and Reporting
For better or worse, many businesses are flooded with more information and data than they can handle. Sales numbers, social media metrics, and POS reports all play important roles in business operations. The problem isn’t accessing the information– what most businesses struggle with is sifting through it all and separating the useful data from the junk.
Happy Medium can work with businesses to build a custom application that prioritizes, interprets, and displays all of the most important data in one place. With a web application built from scratch, the days of juggling charts and spreadsheets are in the past.
Automation can mean anything for your business. If you’ve ever been stuck in a mind-numbing task thinking “there has to be an easier way,” you’ll be pleased to hear that you’re probably right. Custom web apps that automate tasks let employees focus on more important matters instead.
Integration with Other Apps
One of the most common responses to the idea of custom web apps is, “We’ve already put enough time and money into onboarding with existing software. We don’t want that work to go to waste.”
The goal of custom web applications isn’t always to completely replace existing applications. Sometimes a client just needs their current applications to interact nicely together. With some clever coding, Happy Medium can create a custom application that integrates all of the software and applications that you want to consolidate.
I know what you’re thinking. “Custom” is almost always synonymous with “expensive.” True, the upfront cost of building a custom web application will likely cost more than the monthly or annual fee you would pay for off-the-shelf software. That’s only looking at cost short-term.
Once you pay the initial cost to develop the custom app, you won’t pay any regular fees besides rare, ad-hoc maintenance. But that’s not the only way a custom app could save you money.
A common issue our clients face is being stuck paying for more features than they regularly use. The pricing model of many applications makes users choose different tiers of membership. They offer a low cost to access the application, but it also comes with fewer features. To access “premium” features (read: more useful), users have to fork over some more money.
With a custom app, you choose the features you need, which means you only pay for the features you need.
Access to a Dedicated Team
When you have a team develop a custom app, they know the ins and outs of the software itself. Not because they were trained on the application, but because they built it from scratch. Most publicly available applications have support staff available, but they do only that: support.
When it comes to resolving major issues or walking you through your new app, there’s no team more qualified than the team that built it. Your web development team knows the application from back to front and can provide much more comprehensive support compared to a support staff from an off-the-shelf app. You won’t have to deal with frustrating chatbots to get help, either.
Happy Medium has plenty of experience guiding clients through the app development process. From conceptualization to launch, we can build a product that’s custom fit for your business to make life easier. So if you’re feeling like a custom web application is what your business needs, we’re free to chat.