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Sometimes in the public sector, we end up with a solution looking for a problem. Mobile apps, native or web, often fit that definition. Since this is a quandary that often comes up, we’re hoping to draft some guidelines later this year. But in the meantime, here are some ideas to get you thinking about the possibilities and pitfalls.

To app or not to app, that is the question

Our advice is to take a step back from an app as a solution and ask yourself:

  1. What are you trying to do?
  2. Do your users need an app?
  3. Will you build a native app or a web app?
  4. How do you measure success?
  5. Who will take care of your app after it launches?

We strongly recommend that you look at user research — ideally your own — to gauge whether people will be interested in an app.

Options to consider:

  • leverage the customer experience research that we have undertaken, which we’ve published here on the Web Toolkit
  • adopt responsive design to enable the public to access the public facing content on your site, which may reduce the need to develop a mobile app (some responsive design advice is also published on the Web Toolkit blog).

Some resources to help you find the answers you need

  1. Standalone mobile apps: the UK Government's position on mobile apps
  2. Takeaways from Mobile Accessibility 101
  3. Designing for mobile: Responsive design vs. mobilized sites vs. mobile app
  4. They Need an App
  5. Responsive web design vs. mobile app development
  6. Should you build a mobile app or mobile website — infographic
  7. Mobile apps: the new security breach
  8. Making Mobile Gov Project

Utility links and page information