Deciding whether to publish a mobile app is an important element of any organization’s technology strategy. However, given the stark difference between the open web and mobile app ecosystems, this is not a trivial decision. For instance, having an online presence can be as simple as filling a form to publish a website. However, mobile app development is significantly more resource intensive, requiring deliberate decision-making. Unlike for-profit entities, NGOs and NPOs need to carefully evaluate the suitability of mobile apps to their mission. This article discusses the decision-making criteria for organizations interested in using tech for social good
Prior to evaluating the decision-making criteria, an NGO must assess its service profile as follows:
Once the NGO’s service profile has been assessed, thought must be given to the goals to be achieved via the mobile app:
Given the fragmented device ecosystem, it is important to consider the type of user experience the NGO wishes to create. How important is it to provide the user a native app experience? For instance, if the purpose of the app is to enable access to the NGO’s service(s), developing a native app may be preferable in the interest of user experience. On the other hand, if the purpose is information dissemination, a mobile web app or a responsive website might suffice.
At this stage, the NGO will have enough information to prepare a scope document which can be used for estimating the cost / resource requirement. The appropriate technology option can be chosen based on the resource availability: native, hybrid, or mobile web app development.
Using appropriate criteria would enable an NGO / NPO to make an informed decision about their mobile app strategy. While resource constraints may not allow a full-fledged app to be funded, the NGO / NPO can consider including only the key process in the first iteration and add features eventually.