Q: I'm considering hiring someone to create an app for my studio. Do you think that's a good idea?
A: Having your own app just sounds cool, doesn't it? But before you go down that road, you should ask yourself what you need from an app that your website can't already do. If you've made your website mobile-friendly, then your studio community could just as easily make your site an “app" on their device by bookmarking your website on their device's browser and adding it to their home screen.
If you're using a studio management system like Jackrabbit, Studio Director or DanceStudio-Pro, they all have a mobile version of their web portal as part of their services. This takes that same website-on-your-device idea and gives it a customized interface that's easy to use. (These software systems can range in cost from $30 to $290 a month, depending on the number of students you have.)
If you want a truly customized app, then you can either hire an app designer—the price most likely starts around $10,000—or try a service like Swyft Apps. Their start-up fees range from $600 to $1,200, with a monthly fee of $30 to $60. Swyft Apps frequently offers discounts of up to 50 percent, and they can create an app to work with your studio software. The biggest benefit of an app like this is definitely customization: It will have the look and feel of your studio, including your icon or logo, with unique features, like a portal to take and upload dance photos for sharing within the app.
Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends Seminary in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty at the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.