Apps—they’re everywhere and everybody wants one! You may believe these are the answer to their digital marketing needs. You may have the impression that apps are the golden egg for keeping ahead of your market and connecting with tech savvy users. Yet, that’s not always true.
What is an App, Exactly?
If you do a simple Google search, here’s the definition that pops from Technopedia:
“An app is computer software, or a program, most commonly a small, specific one used for mobile devices.”
In other words, an app is a small program that has a specific purpose.
There’s a difference between an app and a website: while both can fulfill a specific purpose, a website generally offers additional functionality that’s simply not possible within an app. The app is used to accomplish a particular goal, which a website typically can’t perform on its own.
Why Would a Customer Need an App?
There are two main reasons a customer might truly need an app:
1). The business is a well-known brand: in this case, loyal customers would be happy to download the app. The app would offer some type of loyalty program to offer discounts, etc. to loyal customers.
Also, the app would not be a mobile version of the company’s website. Redundancy just doesn’t make sense.
2). The business’ product or service is the app: what does this mean? The app is the company’s business. Consider Snapchat as an example. This app makes use of smartphone features for sending and receiving messages, images and videos that disappear. That’s it. In fact, Snapchat’s website doesn’t offer much more than to get people to download the app.
These are the two instance that make sense for a company to have their own app. Otherwise, their best bet is a mobile-friendly website.
Apps Are Generally Not the Right Decision
Unless a company’s app fits the criteria covered in the previous section, then it doesn’t make much sense to have an app. Not only that, but people tend to only use about 6-10 apps per week on a regular basis. What’s the issue? The issue is that unless the company’s brand is famous and the app has a very specific purpose, no one’s going to download and use the app.
Now, if you think your app has high potential to break into this 6-10 top apps, then you can discuss the idea with them. However, typically they’d be better off with a responsive website.
People Don’t Download Apps
Most smartphone users download zero apps in a month. Why? Because they’ve already downloaded the apps they find useful. A new app would need to address needs not covered by the top 6-10 apps at the top of the market.
Another point—if people do download a new app, they very rarely keep on using it. Wow—that hurts, but it’s the truth.
When you take into consideration the cost in creating an app balanced against building a mobile-friendly site, it makes the most sense to build the website, rather than the app. For the same amount of money, you can a beautiful site that takes care of customers. They’ll be happy to return again. However, the app may leave customers flat, and they’ll stop using and/or uninstall the app because it doesn’t provide that specific function they’re looking for.
Why Responsive Web Design is the Answer
A company’s customers want a responsive site, rather than an app.
Consider this, people search for businesses through their browsers, not in an app store. For instance, search for a plumber in one of the major app stores. What will you find? Not a business, but perhaps you’ll find a game, an app with plumbing advice and how-tos, etc. You will not find a business.
It is important that you understand that a responsive website is much better for your business and your customers.
To Look Tech-Savvy, You Don’t Need an App
While apps can be a great source of revenue for very specific companies (remember the 2 criteria we covered above), they’re usually a waste of time and money.
What you need is a responsive website design. This will provide their site visitors with a high-quality user experience on all devices, which is more effective than an app.
Pros of a Mobile Website
What are the benefits of a mobile response website? Let’s take a look!
1). Broader reach: a well-designed mobile-responsive website has the ability to reach a wider audience, when compared to an app. The site is accessible across all devices, as noted earlier, meaning customers can visit the site from their smartphone, a tablet, laptop, etc.
2). More cost-effective: for the money that it costs to develop an app (which is pretty expensive), you can develop a beautiful site with a much smaller budget instead.
3). SEO & Brand Visibility: you will benefit from the SEO and visibility you gain with a response site, compared to an app. Remember, apps are downloaded for specific purposes, with many users simply not using the app after a certain amount of time. However, with a mobile-friendly website, the brand has a broader reach and will gain higher visibility.
One of the reasons for the greater visibility is due to the site’s SEO. You can’t gain in search engine ranking with an app. It just doesn’t happen; however, with a website, your business can highly benefit from search engine traffic, gaining more visibility overall. This means broader visibility to a wider audience—in other words, broader brand visibility.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.