Tips

Why offer a mobile app?

March 31, 2022

In 2022, mobile applications have become a part of our everyday lives and they’re woven into our social fabric. From banking and portfolio management to social media and gaming, the mobile application landscape is robust and continuously evolving. At this point, people expect organizations to offer a modern mobile app experience in addition to a quality website.

The OuterSpatial platform is built specifically for parks and recreation organizations who want to make a mobile application available to their visitors. It makes it possible for these organizations to offer an award-winning mobile application without having to dive into the technical nitty gritty — allowing them to focus their limited resources on branding, content, messaging, and growth. By joining OuterSpatial, an organization gains access to the technology platform and becomes part of a growing community of parks and recreation organizations across the United States who are dedicated to conservation/preservation, outdoor recreation, and fostering the growth of a new and diverse generation of outdoor enthusiasts.

Responsive Website vs Mobile Application

When considering the development of a mobile application, many organizations get stumped by the question, “Why should we offer a mobile application when our website is already optimized for mobile?” This is a tough (and good!) question because many organizations have already dedicated resources to making their website responsive. Although website mobile optimization should be a critical part of every organization’s technical strategy, a responsive website likely does not offer the best on-the-ground experience for visitors who are out in your parks. And if you don’t have a mobile application, you’re missing out on some powerful analytics that could help your organization better understand how visitors are utilizing its outdoor recreation assets.

Limitations of a responsive website when compared to a mobile application:

  • User interface constrained by the web browser
  • Internet connection required
  • Sluggish, unresponsive interactive maps when viewing on mobile
  • Limited analytics

Benefits of a mobile application when compared to a responsive website:

  • User-friendly interface and easy, familiar navigation
  • Offline mode
  • Fluid interactive maps with access to real-time GPS
  • Rich analytics
  • Geofenced push notifications
  • Access to driving, walking, transit, and ride share directions

Options for Offering a Mobile Application

Organizations that decide to offer a mobile application to their visitors have two paths available. Both paths are outlined below, along with the pros and cons for each.

Custom Development (In-House or Third-Party)

Pros:

  • Complete control of the application development process. Note that this can also be a “con” if your organization doesn’t have the in-house technical expertise needed to guide the design and development.
  • Updates are made according to internal expectations and your organization’s own roadmap.

Cons:

  • Custom development is very expensive (in many cases, exorbitantly so).
  • Requires a long development cycle.
  • You’ll likely need to hire technical personnel — internally or via an ongoing contract — to build, design, and maintain the application.
  • After the app is built, you will need to figure out how to continuously maintain it to keep up with changing technologies, Apple and Google’s ever-evolving guidelines, design standards and best practices, etc.

Join an Existing Platform

Pros:

  • Extremely cost effective, especially when compared to custom development.
  • Ability to leverage existing technology to get up-and-running immediately.
  • No technical personnel or experience needed.
  • Take advantage of continuous updates made to the platform. In the case of OuterSpatial, these updates are made based on feedback from hundreds of organizations and a large, passionate group of users.
  • Become part of a large community and partner with other organizations.
  • Gain access to a large, existing user base and eliminate the need to convince users they should install “yet another app” on their phone.

Cons:

  • It may take longer for your organization’s “wish list” items to get added to the platform because updates are made based on the needs of the entire OuterSpatial community (both organizations and visitors). Note that this can also be viewed as a “pro”, however, because this also means that product roadmap decisions are informed by a larger set of feedback and supported/validated by user engagement data.
  • Limited visibility on the Apple App Store and Google Play. There are ways to work around this “con”, however.

Conclusion

One of the primary reasons we built the OuterSpatial platform is because we saw how many organizations try to build their own mobile application and fail. Some of them are able to get an initial mobile application out but then struggle to keep it updated while others enter into large custom development contracts that fizzle out before an app is even launched. Simply put, building a mobile app is tough and requires navigating a path with many potential pitfalls.

We think the choice is clear for most organizations: join OuterSpatial and you can be up-and-running in hours, not months, and you’ll have access to:

  • A technology platform that’s always up-to-date and continuously improving.
  • A growing community of other like-minded outdoor recreation organizations and visitors that are already using OuterSpatial.

Using OuterSpatial will allow your organization to use its precious resources to focus on what you do best: connecting with visitors and offering unique experiences in the outdoors.

If your organization is interested in learning more about and/or joining the OuterSpatial platform, please reach out to set up an introductory meeting. We also encourage you to check out our on-demand webinar that gives a high-level overview of the OuterSpatial platform.


About the Author

Ryan Branciforte

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

ryan@outerspatial.com