Every app needs a website, or a web page, to help promote the app, and sometimes to offer functionality which is more appropriately provided via the web than through the app.
What can a Website do for My App?
The most important job of your app website is to generate sales – to convert interest interest into a purchase decision. This means presenting your app in a positive way, extolling the features of your app, posting positive testimonials, and anything else that might convince someone to choose your app over your competition.
Why else might I Need a Website?
Sometimes apps need a web server component to function. This is usually because an app needs to share data with other copies of the app. For example, a messaging app would use a server to pass messages to the recipient.
The reason a server is required for sharing data is because apps usually don’t know how to find other copies of the same app. Every app with an internet connection has a presence on the Internet, but the actual internet address of the app is completely random – it could be any address the mobile phone provider or WIFI provider decides to assign.
However, every copy of the app knows where to find its server – the server has a fixed internet address, which is programmed into the app. So apps can use the server to contact each other, in the same way that people who don’t know each other’s address can agree to meet at a cafe they both know.
The other reason an app might need a server is if it needs access to data storage or computation power far greater than a mobile device can provide.
For example, an optical character recognition app might use a server to extract the text from scanned documents. Optical character recognition – extracting text from images – takes a large amount of computation effort, often too much effort for mobile devices to handle in a reasonable amount of time. The greater speed and power of a server can often more than make up for the time lost passing the scanned pictures from the mobile device to the server.
If the app uses a very large database, a server might be required to store the data. Usually where possible, data is stored inside the app, to reduce the need to access data across the internet. But if a very large amount of data is required, or searching the data requires a lot of computation effort, the data needs to be moved to a server.
Finally, a server can provide a safety backup, protection for your data in case you lose your phone or other mobile device.
What Website Technology Should I Use?
The answer depends on what you need the web server to do.
If your app does not need a server component, if your website is purely for app promotion, then use the WordPress Website. WordPress puts ordinary people in charge of the technology – it has grown to utterly dominate the web content provision market. With literally thousands of off the shelf plugins and extensions, offering a vast array of ready built features and functions, a lot of the time it is possible to create and maintain a sophisticated website with no software developer help whatsoever.
If your app does need a server component, then you will need a custom server. There is a large array of server options to choose from, including Amazon EC2, hosted servers, ISP provided servers. Your developer should advise you what solution best matches your needs. Where possible demand to use free technology – Linux or Free BSD. Avoid solutions which require a costly license, such as Microsoft, unless absolutely necessary, unless that is the only way to obtain a specific capability you require – there is no sense spending money unless you have to.
The great thing is, if you do require a custom server component, you can still use WordPress to manage the promotional side of your website. WordPress is also available as a free software package which can be installed on a third party server. Better, it is possible to mix WordPress functionality and custom website functionality, to make custom web pages blend seamlessly with your promotional website look and feel.
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