Why we don’t have a mobile app, and why you shouldn’t either.

A question we get a lot is, ‘Why don’t you have a mobile app?’.

It’s strange nowadays not to have a downloadable mobile app. Being a startup, you might assume it’s just something we haven’t gotten around to yet. But actually, it’s an active choice on our end. It’s a business andphilosophical decision.

So I’m not going to answer that question directly. I’m going to try to convince you that you don’t need a native mobile app either. Just a progressive web app.

First, a few quick definitions.

Native Apps are applications that must be downloaded and installed on the device before the user can start using it. These are usually accessed through stores like Apple’s App Store or Google’s Google Play store.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA’s) are applications that can be accessed via an internet connected browser. Users don’t need to install them before they can use them. You generally access these types of apps by going to the vendor’s website first, not an app store.

Why you don’t need a mobile app.

Alright, so here’s my pitch against native apps to my own clients. Let’s see if I can convince you it’s a waste of money for your business too.

  • Fewer clicks for the user to get started using your application.
  • Higher conversion rates.
  • Cheaper to maintain.
  • Runs on any device that has internet and a browser.

Fewer Clicks & Higher Conversions

Fewer clicks to get started and higher conversion rates. That’s right. PWA’s convert better than native apps. The stats prove it and when you really think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

Let’s say someone here’s about your app from a friend, goes to Google or one of the app stores, and searches. If your app is one fo the top ranked results, the user will end up on your website. At that point, the user will read reviews, look at screenshots, and hopefully, tap the install button. They will authenticate or enter a password, then wait for the app to download. Finally the app is downloaded and installed on the home screen, and only at that point, can the user tap the app, open it and begin to use it.

That’s a lot. I’m a little out of breath just describing all of that. But that’s what it takes to convert a native app download. And the stats say that a typical funnel will loose about 10-15% for every click or tap a user has to make along that journey. Let’s say we started with 100 leads at the top of our funnel, those stats say we will loose between 41 and 48 of those leads… just from tapping.

Compare that with the experience for a PWA. A user goes to Google and searches your app. When the land on your website, the pitch is simple. Get started now. After a single click on your website, the user can be sent directly to the application. No app stores, no authenticating and waiting for a download to finish. None of the nonsense. 2 taps compared to 4 or five.

Less Expensive And Easier To Maintain

When you only have one version of your application to maintain, all of the burden associated with developing for multiple vendors goes away. You don’t need dedicated Android and iOS developers. That also means you don’t have to wait for Google and Apple to approve your new version before it goes live. You control the whole release process.

Product owners, don’t have to maintain separate versions of the same application. Usually, this results in the iOS version having a different feature set then the Android version, and worse, both of those versions usually lag behind the PWA version. It’s not a great situation and it’s generally a confusing experience for your users.

Runs Everywhere

So here’s my last pitch. PWA’s run on any internet connected device with a browser. It doesn’t matter if you’re on your laptop, tablet, or phone. If you have internet, you can access the application. It makes the experience really seamless for your users. One app, many devices.

Earlier I mentioned that there are some cases where a native mobile application makes sense. Usually it’s when you want to create a game that requires hardware graphics acceleration. But in the SAAS world, there really isn’t much to gain by building a native app.

Keep it simple. Focus on building the best progressive web application you can. You will convert at a higher rate, save time and money, and your users will love the experience of having your full application available to them, no matter what device they are on.