App Pushers and Enforcers


Summary

Lately, I've noticed a phenomenon that is extremely unhealthy, not mention annoying: companies more or less forcing you to use their mobile app instead of their Web site. The truth is that most businesses don't need an app. They just need a Web site that works.

My iPhone home screen

Lately, I've noticed a phenomenon that is extremely unhealthy, not mention annoying: companies more or less forcing you to use their mobile app instead of their Web site. It's bad enough when they're just pushing them at you every time you visit their site, requiring an extra click to get past the "download our mobile app!" splash page. Some sites just give you a crappy, watered-down mobile experience with no way to get to the "real" site .

But what I'm thinking of is more insidious. When a company pays good money to create a mobile app they don't want to also pay for a mobile version of their site. Consequently, you're stuck with the Hobson's choice of downloading an app you're rarely use or trying to muddle through with a site that is hard to navigate on a mobile device.

The temptation to "have an app" is big. Having an app says you're hip. You've arrived. You get this whole mobile world! And better yet, the app pushers will tell you, your brand is now on the phone--24x7--where the user will see it every time they use their phone. And, of course, once you've invested money in an app, you don't want to pay money to fix your Web site too. So you throw up a splash screen pushing your app.

This Balkanization of the Web into apps is evil on many levels. Let's face it, no one wants a mobile app for every Web site they visit--or even those they visit occasionally. Consequently customers suffer from poor user experiences and businesses miss out on transactions by introducing friction.

The answer for most businesses is that they don't need an app. They need a good mobile version of their site. I don't know of a study that compares the business effectiveness of mobile apps vs. good mobile sites, but I'd like to see one. Unless, I'm completely missing something, I'd bet that a good mobile site is more effective in terms of driving real business.