Six Reasons Not to Create a Mobile App for Your Content Site
Written by: Scott Baradell
It’s time to stop wondering whether you should create a mobile app for your content-based website. The better course, in the great majority of cases, is to just create a website with responsive design — so it automatically adapts how it displays to visitors based on what device they use to access your site.
Oh, I guess you could go with a mobile app. Then your users could enjoy this wonderful set of experiences:
1. When they come to your site, they are met with a splash page telling them to download your app.
2. They are redirected to the app store to download it. (Let’s hope they can remember their password.)
3. They wait for eternity to download the file.
4. They try to determine, without any context or incentive, whether to accept your “push” notification request.
5. They launch the app and then try to find the one thing they were searching for to begin with.
6. They get regular updates to the app requiring the use of more bandwidth (which contrary to popular belief, isn’t free.)
Pay closest attention to No. 6 above. After laying out thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars to build out a good app, it doesn’t stop there. The apps that do well demand users come back over and over again, and that requires you to continually refresh and improve the app. If you can’t do that, you won’t get repeat visitors and your app will become an albatross.
One other thing: apps are a form of digital sharecropping, meaning that you are publishing your content on someone else’s platform. Think about the ordeals that content publishers like Conde Nast have had to go through to come to an agreement with Apple on their magazine apps.
Yes, there are some cases when creating a mobile app makes sense. The main reason to create an app is to take advantage of a smartphone or tablet’s fancy gadgetry. For example, if you want to create an in-store experience by using the phone’s camera to scan barcodes and give you price comparisons — a la ShopSavvy — you need to create an app for that. A site can’t do it yet, but an app can.
But content sites? What can you really offer in an app that you can’t just offer on your website?