For the past few years, the big “new” thing for clients has been phone apps. They come to us asking if we can make an app for the iPhone. They usually aren’t even sure what they want it to do, they just know that they want one that customers can use so that it makes them look “cutting-edge.”
Here’s something you may not know. In the fastest loading, simplest-to-use wins world of the internet, the most “cutting-edge” advances are the ones the customers don’t see. Ease of use and simplicity in functionality require thought and complexity in development, but produce pleasing and efficient experiences for busy customers.
To help you decide if you need an app or not, let’s discuss the pros and cons.
What are the advantages of a mobile website
Universally supported – you don’t have to develop a different one for every phone operating system (OS).
SEO friendly – mobile website content can be searched by Google, Bing and other engines.
Doesn’t take up permanent space on the phone – apps must be downloaded to the phone’s permanent storage. Websites are using temporary memory and are faster to access than apps.
Cheaper to maintain – since development is usually done in standard web code (HTML, CSS, PHP) the maintenance of the code is generally quicker and simpler. An app requires testing and compiling for each phone OS you plan to target.
When to App
- When you use features that are native to the phone. (Camera functions)
- When you are helping the customer do something interactive that they do repeatedly, such as accessing account information and calculating functions.
- If you are creating a game, since most games take advantage of the features of the phone.
A large drug-store chain launched an app a few years ago for android and iphone that allowed customers access to their accounts. Unfortunately, the app was so bloated with code that the app took up tremendous amounts of space on the phone. The problem was that the business team tried to put the entire website in the app instead of defining the top 5 things a customer would do with an app that would make the experience better than just accessing the website via mobile browser.
Thus, it was a bloated, heavy app. Unfriendly, making the phone run slowly, cumbersome and not easy to use. All the things that go against the rules of app versus mobile website.
Every board game and card game known to man is an app for your phone. We play them while waiting at the doctor’s office, on the bus, at the table while waiting for friends, at home in bed.
Don’t get caught up in the hype. You aren’t losing customers if you don’t have an app.
Take a long hard look at your business. Do you provide something other than just readable content that your customers will truly need access to on a daily basis that an app will help them with?
If not, build a mobile website. You and your wallet will thank me for it later.