Are Apps the new Website?
Less than a decade ago mobile internet was predicted to achieve dominance over desktop and website owners raced to optimise their sites for mobile. By 2015 the prediction had come true and the dominance was confirmed by the algorithm that phased out websites not optimised for mobile.
Today, the popularity of mobile apps has been on a steady rise and some are predicting that apps will achieve a similar takeover from mobile websites. But as companies join into the frenzy and create their business apps, there is skepticism whether apps will really replace website development in the near future.
The convenience of apps
Although all social media sites are accessible through website browsers, they all have a complementary app. The efficiency of these apps in smartphones is one of the factors that has driven the adoption of mobile apps among smartphone uses.
As a result, almost every smartphone user today has a number of the social media apps and a couple other apps.
The rise in popularity of apps over websites can be attributed to some of the benefits it offered smartphone users and businesses:
- Improved accessibility: to open an app, you just have to click on the icon on your homepage rather than search for it on the browser
- Easy to integrate with other features of the phone
- Instant notifications
- More effective for brand building
- Personalised interaction between business and customer
- Engagement between businesses, vendors, customers, and employees was more productive
- Improved ROI and sales for businesses
There are other benefits depending on the app and its purpose.
Why haven’t apps already taken over?
With so many benefits of mobile apps, it may seem quite odd that apps have not eclipsed mobile websites. Even the most popular apps have a website that is equally or more productive than the app.
Websites have been able to linger on despite the rise of the popularity of mobile apps because they still have some edge over mobile apps:
Mobile websites are compatible and can be opened on any device with internet connection whereas most apps are constrained to either iOS or Android.
2. Wider audience
Due to their compatibility with any device, there is higher potential of reaching a wider audience via a mobile website.
3. Available on the move
You can access any website via your internet enabled mobile device any time unlike mobile apps which require you to have downloaded the app for you to access the content.
4. SEO Ranking
The concept of SEO on apps is still in its infancy. Websites are therefore a better option for business since their traffic improves your SEO ranking.
Mobile apps require constant updating and maintenance, which can be quite expensive for the developer. Frequent updates can also be exhausting for the customers.
6. You can only install too many apps
Smartphones have a limited memory capacity. Other than memory, a person can only maintain continuous meaningful engagement with around 10 apps in their phones. Keeping any other apps in the phone would only be a waste of space since you can access the information you occasionally need on the business’s websites.
Apps not a replacement for websites, yet…
Mobile apps and websites offer benefits that cancel the other’s shortcomings. As such, although the popularity of mobile apps continues to be on the rise, it is unlikely that apps will replace websites in the near future.
Also, there are thousands of websites with invaluable information that do not have corresponding mobile apps. As such, unless a disruptive feature is added on mobile apps, they will not take the place of websites but rather complement the services offered by websites.
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are Google’s recent innovative approach towards app and website development. Simply put, PWA are websites that offer the efficiency of mobile apps without the burden of having to download and install.
At the moment, they can be described as the answer to the preexisting shortcomings of both websites and mobile apps.
With the development of PWAs, the possible dominance of apps over websites seems to have been delayed for a while longer if not halted completely.
The predictions on the dominance of mobile internet over desktop was based on the premise of increased consumption of smartphones. This was therefore a logical prediction and it’s no surprise that it came to pass.
It is flawed, however, to use the same argument to predict that apps will replace websites. This has especially been hindered by the optimisation of websites for mobile phones while apps still have a number of shortcomings.
This, coupled with the introduction of PWAs, will delay or prevent the phasing out of websites by mobile apps for quite some time. Apps will therefore continue to be strong platforms for social media and some brands but will have to coexist with websites in the overall scope of things.
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