There’s an app for that… but should there be?

Posted on January 18, 2014


As the mobile and tablet users gain a bigger percentage of your site’s total of visitors, there is always someone who will suggest “we should have an app”. This is becoming the default answer for companies when it comes to them providing a service to mobile users. It is not uncommon for the app to provide services the website does not, and vice versa, meaning that certain demographics of users are missing out on useful features that could make the difference between them buying from you or simply going elsewhere.

The main core of this article is put forward the case that with the plethora of libraries, web technologies and available skill, it should be possible for any website to provide the same functionality to both mobile and desktop users using an interface they are familiar with and can navigate intuitively.

A prime example of this is Twitter. The information and functionality Twitter provides can be accessed via an API, meaning it is likely to be well structured, stored and ready to be organised in any way you require. This begs the question – what would be the need for an app for Twitter? Could the website not provide any functionality the app can, even adjusting its layout in a responsive way, condensing buttons and images to display them in a way mobile and tablet users are familiar with? This concept is applicable to all websites that offer services such as ecommerce and data/image aggregation, whereas the app market should be reserved for specialist functions and games involving fruit and sweets.

The future of the web is device blind sites that don’t need to know or check what device they are being viewed on, as they will provide the same functionality to all and will not neglect certain users or devices. This is the new accessibility revolution and soon apps will be the equivalent of a “mobile-version” website on a mobile. subdomain.

Steven is Engage Web’s go-to man for all things web-related, bringing his knowledge of current trends in web design and development to the team.
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