Should I Have an App?

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013

appsThere’s an invisible force field pressuring companies into thinking they need to have an app in Apple’s App Store and the Android Marketplace.

This invisible force creates the sense that, unless these companies are properly represented in these new marketplaces, they’re missing the boat.

The response to this invisible force has been a proliferation of “apps” that pretend to provide some sort of usefulness. This is actually nonsense in most cases.

Although applications exist for mobile devices that we use every day and find indispensable, the largest majority of those can function and appear identical as a web page. In fact, when properly programmed, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

This is important to understand for several reasons.

First – you can probably build your application right into your website. Mobile devices can save web links as applications, so, if you configure things properly, you can give your users a unique app by just adding code to your site that saves a link as an app icon to their mobile device.

I am annoyed when I visit a website and am strongly encouraged to download their new, super-coll, neat-o mobile app. I usually get swept up by the excitement and go to the iTunes or Android store, search for, download and install the super cool app and then launch it only to be presented with content virtually identical to what I was just looking at on the website.

Why in the world did I just go through all of those back flips to get back to where I already was? Now I’m angry at the company. Now I want to get rid of that app. But I’m too lazy so I just feel vague irritation every time I see that icon on my phone. I doubt the provider wanted that result, but that’s how it feels to me and I don’t think I’m alone.

Yes, there’s a marketing case for having an application, but it should probably depend on whether anything you or your company does actually functions better as a stand alone mobile application, or can it function just as well in a web page?

If the answer is web page, then do it that way, make sure the site uses responsive design to format on mobile devices perfectly, and add code to allow users to save your page as an icon on the mobile device. You get the best of three worlds; you only program your site once, it works on all mobile devices without requiring all sorts of steps be taken by users, and you still get all the marketing bang of having your logo on your users’ mobile devices.droid-app-collage1

Here’s where I need to coin a new term to describe what I’m talking about: adaptlication.

An adaptlication is a web application that performs some function. Let’s say we want to¬† provide pet owners with an online repository of all their pets’ medical information, immunization schedule, etc. I create a web application that does all of this for a client.

If I’m a good designer, I will do 2 things; 1, I will use a responsive design for the web page so that it stays readable and usable, regardless of how small the screen it’s displayed on and 2; I will add code so that users can save the page as an icon on their mobile device. That means that I will have already created a nice looking set of icons.

So for the price of a web application, you’re also getting both your iOS and Android applications and your users don’t have to go to some other company’s app store to get them.

Think it over and then call me (920) 540-5604.