Users ‘Still’ want Apps, Not Mobile Websites And Loyalty is Queen.

two years ago i wrote this blog post. trying to explain why app’s are better than websites on mobile

–  2014  –

“It Turns Out People Don’t Really Surf The Web On Their Smartphones”
– Business Insider 2014

There is a new buzz out there: “The internet of things”. The concept relies on the user, getting used to being online everywhere all the time. First the phones, consoles and TV’s, now wristwatches and glasses. Next all home electronics will be online. This is a new behavior we are facing, where the user is getting used to get what they want, when they want it, as fast as possible. And thats where Apps come into place, because they represent the software version of “the internet of things” – They are the places to go, to get what you need, when you need it, online or offline. they work seamless with our lives. and they are available to you when you need them. Apps are customized to fill the needs of the future users of the internet of things. they control your home, your health, your entertainment, your shopping and you friends. Basicly everything you can imagine. There is an app for that.

And then, there is that app called a browser. its is still just an app. An app that give you access to everything that lies in between what all the other Apps give your at your finger tips.

So how do we decide, when to take the jump to an app?

Well it turns out the web as in browsers is slowly declining, specially the mobile web.

apps are great for serving content fast and offline


It Turns Out People Don’t Really Surf The Web On Their Smartphones
Time spend on Apps vs Web – in 2013 Q3 – in US



–  Now  –

Time spend in apps are up from 86% to 90%, compared to time spend in browsers.


so what happend?

Gaming has lost ground to mainly entertainment which is up by 4 fold, but also “others” has multiplied it self by 3 fold it might be a small category, but my bet is that this is where we find online stores.

So what happened. Gaming is now half of what it was and entertainment and others are filling the gap.

So people figured that the smartphone is more than just a game on the bus. Series on Netflix and HBO has come to stay. And people might have discovered the bliss of shopping from the smartphone.

whyisbrowsing Desktop browsing is going down and apparently also mobile web browsing is on a downfall. 

But the browser is there for one important reason: First time visitors
To catch the first time visitors from google and providing one time information.

RULE NUMBER ONE: If many of you users are first time visitors it would make perfect sense to have a great search friendly website that give users, searching for related words a chance to find your brand.

Loyalty is Queen.

Loyalty is one of the biggest reasons users choose a specific content and stick to it. And Apps fits that behavior perfectly. Users know from the very start that they want to come back. Because they are intrinsically motivated to do so. No one is luring them or paying them to come back. Well some do with extrinsic motivation as payment, but pure loyalty can not be bought it has to be earned. Loyalty makes people download apps and keep them. One thing that might have changed over the years is the fact that brands are better at rewarding loyal user. Through gamification or other elements like Loyalty programs.  And because of loyalty, people put brands in their pockets. (A “mobile homescreen app space” is also considered to be “a place in the pocket”.) And we all know, there is one place brands wants to be … in peoples pockets. Because that is where the money is. Funny thing is that the term has grown from, being about a physical wallet to a virtual wallet on the smartphone. Merging online stores in apps with a payment app brings the brand closer to the money with “one click order”. And it does drive more sales when the user do not have to fetch a credit card every time.

So if it is that simple, why dont everybody just make an app?


Because most websites are simple boring information, we obviously can not simply make an app for everything on the web! Because along with everything else in this world, people will not buy into it, unless it makes sense. Or in some cases, it works if it makes absolutly no sense at all. But then you have to master the dark arts of satire, ironic and surreal humor. Which is a very hard genre to set foot in. So onwards with meaningful content. And here comes the heroic term: CONTENT IS KING!

So if you really want your brand to have an app you need to figure out what content you can provide your loyal users with, that would fit into one or more of the categories: Messaging/Social, Youtube, Entertainment, Gaming, Utilities, Productivity, News, online stores or something completely differend. Yes innovative ideas is allowed. There are a few simple rules.

The content has to be meaningful for the user, preferably personalized content.

If the user visits your content more than once every month. there is a good reason for it to be an App.

two years ago I would have said: “more than twice a week” but i strongly believe we keep less active apps longer today than 2-3 years ago.

So user wants personalized experiences. And apps are known to give the feeling of ownership. I own the app, its mine. Im always logged in, im always online and i dont need to accept cookie policies. (an annoying legal text most EU website need to have on the frontpage). Being able to be online all the time. Notifying you when time is right. With important information like: “your order will be delivered to you within the next hour.” or “your uber is arriving now” – Some might state that, push notifications are bad because they spam you all the time, pushing sales, and offers. This is fortunately something that has gotten alot better the last couple of years. And there is a clear trend in user experience design, regarding personalized and meaningful push notifications. only allowing offers when we ask for it.



5 thoughts on “Users ‘Still’ want Apps, Not Mobile Websites And Loyalty is Queen.

  1. Thanks for your post. I like the fact that you are taking the discussion into a broader perspective. You are making the same arguments as I often have to tend to, when trying to explain the possibility of coexisting technologies.
    I love the possibilities in HTML5, but I do think that the kid grew up too fast, and he is now trying to do all sorts of thing that just looks plain embarrassing for people around him. The web was so much more fun, when we could use creative tools to engage the user. Now we are fading things in and scroll to the bottom.
    What puzzles me most is that I see a lot of sites, with mobile specific solutions, and still limits their desktop version. Why not use the tool, that gives the most bang for the bucks?
    We know that mobile browsing is mainly for efferent reading, so we could see a future, where the desktop browsing experience is allowed to stretch its legs and “mouse over again” 🙂
    This post, will save me a lot of breath 🙂

  2. I agree with what the article raises.

    In the company I work for now, we dont´t see viable to switch technology to html5.

    We work predominantly with small web and multimedia projects, that need release with almost “no time margin”.

    Also need the products to work in IE8. We have big customers that have that browser installed on their network.

    For browser web pages with simple content (text + images + standard design) work with what we think is faster and more logical: html + css + javascript.

    For interactive multimedia (under desktop browsers + desktop applications + device apps) we are still using the Flash ecosystem. We see no way to do pure multimedia so quickly with browser technologies. For us, for now, they are not profitable. We can not integrate them into our workflow.

    What I think of the current situation for many companies: everything that is currently being developed, multimedia related, is much simpler than what was developed in Flash yesteryear.

    A profitable Multimedia technology must enable the sum of:
    + Great agility of implementation.
    + Full potential of what is possible.
    + Extension on the market.
    + Technology available in a wide range of computers, browsers, operating systems and devices.
    + Consistency in the development and execution speed.

    You have to sum them all, not just one. Because you can say “html5 works in all platforms”, but it is a half-truth. And, like I say, its not viable price-wise.

    While this technology still does not exist, it will be difficult to get rid of the Flash ecosystem. At least for companies like ours.

    Most customers (at least ours) do not care in what technology a product is developed. The key is to explain them that the devices are not prepared to develop things so powerful and as agile as in the past.

    If we are asked for something more sophisticated that works “across all platforms”, when they see the price, almost nobody wants.

    To summarize: For browser-based products, most times you end up making an alternative and basic html version for devices. Much simpler than the full-blown multimedia desktop (or app) version.

    It’s a matter of pragmatism. Not “religions”. In the future we will see how the different technologies advance.

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