Many web design agencies nowadays will try to sell you a mobile app if you ask for a quote. It may seem like a logical investment to make just because many businesses have one. However, for most small businesses, it’s unnecessary and a waste of money, and here’s why…
Mobile Site vs App
The main difference is that mobile sites are rendered within web browsers, but apps run natively on smart devices. That means, apps have direct access to sensors, information and computing power on the smart devices they run on. However, functionalities are continuously being added to web browsers so that websites can take advantage of the things mentioned above. For the most part, a properly designed mobile site is just as capable as an app, as long as there’s Internet. Although mobile apps could run without Internet, working offline will limit their functionality in most cases.
Supporting Business Case
An mobile app could be a great investment if there is a business case for having one. I use my bank’s mobile app to deposit cheques, make payments and manage my accounts all the time. A banking app makes sense because people use it on daily basis. In addition, there is security benefit in having access to a phone’s fingerprint or facial recognition sensor. A phone carrier’s app also makes sense because it allows users to authenticate with the information on their devices without needing passwords. For a franchised business, an app can quickly show the nearest location without needing access to Internet. If your business can benefit from having a mobile app, definitely go for it. However, for most small businesses, the costs associated with developing and maintaining an app outweighs the benefits.
It’s a Gimmick
I think it’s a gimmick when agencies try to sell something their clients don’t need or can’t benefit from. Also, most agencies don’t actually develop mobile apps themselves; they just pay a 3rd party company to wrap a native app around their client’s mobile site. The end result is an app that provides a similar user experience as the mobile site, so what’s the point?
Downside of Apps
While an app could work without Internet, the information it provides to users may be outdated. Also, just like a website, there are costs associated with marketing and maintaining a mobile app. Depending the provider, there could be monthly maintenance or app publishing fees. You might also get questions or comments about your app which you’d want to manage. That takes focus and resources away from improving your website. Another thing to consider is that shopping decisions are often spontaneous, unplanned. This means consumers search for businesses or products only when they need the information, or when they’re out and about. In those situations, they are more likely to use mobile sites than to download apps onto their phones. Especially with voice assistants such as Siri becoming more popular, your business has more chance of gaining exposure from websites.
Unless your business can benefit from functionalities only available through an app, a good, mobile-friendly site is sufficient. The money saved would be better spent on developing a mobile responsive website and marketing it. We offer website and marketing services that can help you do just that. So why not contact us for a quote and learn how we can help your business grow?