Apps vs websites – what is best for brands?
Why should you invest in mobile app development ?
It’s an increasingly common question, since mobile traffic has surpassed desktop originated traffic. And nope, a laptop is not a mobile device, even if it has a touch screen.
Let’s assume you already have a website that fits both large desktop screens and small smartphone screens. And that it is either responsive or adaptive.
Websites and mobile apps are two different solutions to different problems. If you depend on smartphone specific features to promote user engagement, an app might be the way to go. But even if you need one, a good website is mandatory, as it presents a world of benefits:
- it’s always there, while app’s average lifespan is short;
- It works everywhere, regardless the operating system and you don’t need to download a specific version for each OS;
- easy to update, in real time;
- search engine indexing makes it easy to find, through many search methods, ir, better SEO;
- modern websites already take advantage from smartphone native features, such as camera access, geolocation or gyroscope, using HTML5 and Node.js;
- shorter development time, and they are easier to update and run;
- you can play the Ad game targeting specific user habits, like promoting impulsive shopping to insomniacs picking up the phone late at night (this is a thing);
- websites are less expensive;
So, probably the question it is not if you should have a website or an app, but if you should have an app besides the website.
Why an app?
First, let’s see what is an app. An app is an application or standalone piece of software, that works in a mobile device environment making the most of those devices’ technical features an user habits, allowing them do things in a way that wouldn’t work on a computer.
Instagram is a great example. Before being a social network, it was a photo app, that made the sharing of highly stylized pictures with the least amount of editing effort easy. Basically, it was a portable simple photo editor, with high visual impact. Life seen through Insta-filters was something anyone could do, without any photography knowledge. You just needed to be somewhere instagrammable, take the pic, apply the filter, click share. There was no saving pics to edit later in a desktop software and only afterwards share them on social networks. Instagram made it all instantaneous.
This is one of the reasons why it became so popular, but the main one is that it was user friendly and convenient.
Apps unique features is what makes them so powerful:
- they’re smartphone native, which means they’re designed with the devices features in mind, like push notifications, vibration alerts, gyroscope, GPS, automatic updates, camera features, microphone, etc. And many can work offline;
- as mobile native software, they’re programmed to provide straightforward, issue free user experience;
- they take up mobile screen real estate, which is a golden branding opportunity. Online stores can place their logo on the thing people spend more time looking at, at thumbs reach;
- when shopping, you can add your digital ID to the account you use to manage your phone, or to your favorite social network profile to most apps and in just one click;
- apps promote engagement and provide a richer user experience, that goes beyond presenting information – you don’t just look at a map, you navigate between waypoints with augmented reality or geo-specific information;
Maybe the right question is “what is an app for?”. The answer is “to do stuff”. like playing games or music, track that late afternoon run in realtime and get in on record, make videos, use filters on pics and videos, use augmented reality (for any of the previous options), to monitor our habits using the device that is always with us.
And that is a key factor: mobility. Having your smartphone all the time everywhere we go is what makes communication (Messenger, WhatsApp), community (Facebook, Instagram) and utility (Uber, Google Maps, Airbnb) apps so popular.
There is also a special place for useless ones, but Candy Crush is all about killing time and we’re thinking about productivity here.
When it comes to developing an app, there’s something else you should consider: it is a big investment. If you want a good one, you’ll have to pay a lot for it. Answer this questionnaire and find out if you need an app or not.
Apps must add value to the user’s experience. If I need to register, download and make room for it in my smartphone, it better be a richer experience than a website is. An app is something you use, not visit. Preferably.
Do you want to learn where to invest in your digital strategy? We don’t have an app for that, but we have loads of experience. Get in touch.