There are many benefits to a custom web app, but a publisher must give it careful thought in order to realize the intended gains. The first thing to think about is the purpose of the app. One that's made to increase a company's visibility will necessarily be different from one that is meant to have paid access or support ads. Thought also needs to be given to the intended audience and what is likely to appeal to the people in that group.
Apps to Increase Visibility
These are almost always offered for free, but that doesn't mean that you should go too cheap with them. After all, if your free app is always crashing or only works on one browser, it will make your entire company look slipshod. A free app that is used to increase your branding needs to be highly polished and free of glitches. It will also need ongoing support and updates, though with free offerings, this aspect almost never goes on as long as it would with a paid version.
It's important to tailor the function of this sort of app to meet the needs and tastes of the desired audience. There's no point in releasing a viral game that will appeal to teenagers if your main business is supplying concrete to home builders! Instead, offer tools that will help your usual customers in their normal tasks. For that concrete company, a good app would be a calculator that helps builders find out how much concrete will be needed for whatever size of foundation they intend to put under their latest house. Other companies should offer tools that fit their own clientele in a similar way.
Of course, the function of the app is just one part of it. Its overall look and feel is also important. Go for a style that fits the personality and age group of your current customers in order to help draw more of the same to your business. Avoid the temptation to try to look "super cool" unless it actually fits your business - what one group of people thinks is awesome may strike another group as too immature.
Apps for Sale or Ads
The other main category of apps is meant to be sold or supported with advertising. With web apps, "sale" takes the form of selling access rather than literally selling instances of the programs. This means that support and updates must keep going on as long as enough people have a subscription. Popular apps of this sort can keep going for years.
Ad-supported web apps aren't nearly as common as they once were, but they still exist. Like paid-access ones, they also require ongoing support and debugging in order to keep people logging in. Ignoring an app once it has been fully debugged won't work because eventually, its capabilities and overall design will become dated.
There is a lot of latitude when it comes to the function and design of paid and ad-supported apps. Unlike ones meant to promote a business, they don't have to look "businesslike" in the corporate sense. Many online games take this form. That said, they do have to look polished, be free of glitches, and appeal to their intended audiences. Therefore, it's still important to make sure that they are professionally designed. You will also need to be sure that your intended audience will really be interested and that the market isn't already saturated with 10,000 variations of the exact same thing.
Contact us for specific ideas for an app that will meet your needs, whether those needs are related to corporate branding or the simple desire to have thousands of subscribers to your web app. We'll be glad to help you decide on all of the details and then build the app you desire!