How to Go Mobile Without an App

If your association lacks the time or resources to develop an app, there are several alternatives. American Institute of Architects Managing Director of Web Management and Development Jonathan Sullivan shares how to think outside the mobile-app box.

Associations Now: Why should associations consider alternatives to apps?

Sullivan: For a lot of organizations, an app can seem like kind of a daunting thing to do, and they may not have the specialized expertise or the finances to hire or contract out that expertise. There are a lot of different ways that you can approach the mobile space short of developing an app, including the mobile web, social media, white labeling [using an app developed by someone else with your brand on it], and mobile partnerships.

It's not so much that they shouldn't develop an app, but they don't have to in order to be an active participant in the mobile space.

When choosing an alternative, what advice would you give?

Which one you choose largely depends on your objectives—because not every one of these four things is compatible with certain objectives—and it also depends on your capabilities as an organization.

For example, if you're a content-driven organization, some of these options might be better suited for you, but if you're more of a program- or product-oriented association, other alternatives might work better.

What is one of the biggest advantages of going the alternative route?

If you think you're going to have difficulty in getting consensus within your organization in even defining what your app should be—what its purpose is, what will be included in it, what will not be included—you can avoid having that conversation be a barrier by taking smaller steps into the world of mobile.

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "App Alternatives."]