Evolution of a Mobile App
We’re close to rolling-out CCV’s first mobile app. It’s been a long journey. Before this weekend’s roll-out I thought I might walk through the project’s journey with all of it’s twists and turns. It all started out over a year ago when we got serious about needing a mobile app. Our first step was to look at the church specific mobile app packages. These services can quickly provide a great looking app for a reasonable price. Our two concerns with these services were:
- Most don’t have features that in our mind get people to come back and use them. They don’t fell sticky. They may get downloaded, but how many consistently get 3-4 uses a month per attendee? I look at the feature list and don’t see something that would make me return.
- Starting with these apps was an option we considered, but most get deployed to the App Stores under the vendors account. We felt that if we did this it would be hard to change course in the future. By deploying under our own account we can quickly replace the app with anything we like in the future.
We also spent some time discussing what platforms we would support. We ended up deciding that we needed to support both Apple iOS and Android on both the phone and tablet medium. Part of me would have rather stuck to just iOS, but looking at the sales metrics, that’s just not an option. Therefore, we decided to embark on a quest to write two native apps (one for each platform). Our initial features for our 1.o release included:
- Prayer Request (both praying for and submitting)
- Group Finder
- Sermon Video Streaming
- Digital Sermon Notes
- About Us Info (Campus maps, invite a friend etc)
As we’re pretty limited on resources with our current Arena projects and writing for the new Rock ChMS, development was limited to my free-time. I started out on the iOS app and go pretty far. About 60-65% of the way through though I came to the conclusion there was no way with our current resources we were going to be able to write AND support two native platforms. I quickly pinged a few outside resources to get a picture of what it might cost to have someone else develop the apps for us. The quote I got back was $120K for both platforms. That was not an option…
In the end the productivity savings more than made up for the lack of a truly native application. This is our 1.o deliverable so hopefully we’ll learn a lot through the roll-out. So far the application has received high marks from our internal testers. In the end though I do feel like we cheated a bit.
I’ll post more once the app is released this weekend.