Home Forums Tech talk Straw poll re mobile apps

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  • #1000041
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691

    I’m interested to get opinions on how day to day users view using native apps (installed on your phone via your app store of choice) when compared to using websites or web apps.

    This is personal opinion, but if you take out the biggies, like Facebook, Gmail etc etc etc…I find that most of them are awful.

    I’m only talking about mobile apps that connect to the web for info, data etc. Not stuff that is operating just on the phone itself, like a game maybe.

    This has been amplified because I use a Chromebook a lot...for anyone interested a Chromebook can install and run most Android Apps. So I’ve been doing the rounds and using a lot more apps than I would even think of using on a phone.

    Most of them are horrible to use, especially when compared to their parallel web counterparts. For instance, I really like SBS on Demand and I like using their website but their app is crap…and I’m finding more as I go.

    The reason I’m asking the question has a couple of motivations…ones personal (where my times better spent) the other is to address the commonly asked question…I have a great idea. How much will it cost me to build an App?

    I’ve had a serious look at moving towards developing native apps. Mainly because there’s still some advantages in accessing the underlying hardware on a phone (disappearing rapidly)…the big downside is they’re almost impossible to market for small players…easier if you already have a significant web audience.

    The web technology now exists to (pretty simple to do compared to coding a native app) that allows a user to install a website/web app on the phone (in under 5 seconds usually) that creates an icon on your home screen (or anywhere else you want to put it). It works offline just fine, and only updates info when there’s a connection…notifications are optional.

    There’s no need for ongoing updates and big downloads of data (these drive me nuts on my phone, 4 a day is not uncommon), because there’s nothing on the phone to update, just what’s known as a service worker receiving information from a web server.

    Many larger companies are using this model (e.g. Twitter, Alibaba…) but I think there’s plenty of opportunity for small service providers and retailers looking for regular repeat business to benefit, especially in ‘local’ search results…think plumbers, electricians, pizza, coffee etc. And you can’t do that with a native app.

    I’ve half answered my own question, but I am interested in opinions if you have one.

    End of essay, thanks.

    #1222447
    Paul – FS Concierge
    Moderator
    • Total posts: 3,127

    There are a lot of Apps out there that don’t really add value to a user’s life – probably millions of them.

    They are not downloaded or not used and eventually deleted.

    For micro businesses, I can’t see a lot of application for an App except for uses such as a loyalty card for a cafe or for some sort of reminder functionality for a business such as accounting or insurance or hairdresser.

    Giving value to both the business and the user is the key.

    #1222448
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691
    Paul – FS Concierge, post: 268770, member: 78928 wrote:
    There are a lot of Apps out there that don’t really add value to a user’s life – probably millions of them.

    They are not downloaded or not used and eventually deleted.

    For micro businesses, I can’t see a lot of application for an App except for uses such as a loyalty card for a cafe or for some sort of reminder functionality for a business such as accounting or insurance or hairdresser.

    Giving value to both the business and the user is the key.

    Thanks for the reply.

    I think between the main app stores it’s more like a billion these days. But whatever it is, the numbers are still growing.

    I agree, for a micro business they’re money down the drain. But I would say all of the functionality you mentioned can now be added to a website at a fraction of the cost of a full native app.

    Cheers

    #1222449
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,472
    Greg_M, post: 268758, member: 38207 wrote:
    The reason I’m asking the question has a couple of motivations…ones personal (where my times better spent) the other is to address the commonly asked question…I have a great idea. How much will it cost me to build an App?


    I think you have your question wrong, it doesnt really matter what our view is on what we think of mobile apps compared to the web. Personally I think using the web wins hands down (maybe I’m and old fuddy duddy), but even though they have short comings I am seeing that the majority of the younger generation, and even the older generation, only want apps. So it doesnt matter that apps are rubbish, people tolerate rubbish over top of going to the web.

    My banking app is woeful, it only has half the functionality, wont let you put in cents for some transactions, and is just woeful with a capital W. But I know my kids, and others just tolerate the rubbish.

    Your time is best spent where the majority of users want to go, and not necessarily on quality. It’s sad really, but that was the whole justification for app’s, rapid turnaround almost zero testing, zero quality, etc, etc. Long live the web, but shortly they will start scaling down direct web access, and it will all be app’s.

    IMO

    #1222450
    Paul – FS Concierge
    Moderator
    • Total posts: 3,127

    It is an interesting point of view Bert.

    I agree strongly around going where the people… customers especially go.

    But I am a die hard fan of a good user experience.

    Thinking about small business, auto reminders and booking apps would work really well for automotive services, pest controllers and carpet cleaners too.

    I think the value would be looking for the verticals that would really benefit.

    #1222451
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691
    bb1, post: 268777, member: 53375 wrote:
    I think you have your question wrong, it doesnt really matter what our view is on what we think of mobile apps compared to the web. Personally I think using the web wins hands down (maybe I’m and old fuddy duddy), but even though they have short comings I am seeing that the majority of the younger generation, and even the older generation, only want apps. So it doesnt matter that apps are rubbish, people tolerate rubbish over top of going to the web.

    My banking app is woeful, it only has half the functionality, wont let you put in cents for some transactions, and is just woeful with a capital W. But I know my kids, and others just tolerate the rubbish.

    Your time is best spent where the majority of users want to go, and not necessarily on quality. It’s sad really, but that was the whole justification for app’s, rapid turnaround almost zero testing, zero quality, etc, etc. Long live the web, but shortly they will start scaling down direct web access, and it will all be app’s.

    IMO

    Seems your observations are similar to mine. Maybe I am asking the wrong question, and the market has a declining interest in the open web, and the take over by phones is accelerating the process?

    It occurred to me there’s a few things could be in play…

    A large part of the web is even worse than using apps, mainly imo from a failure by designers to move away fast enough from the contemporary paradigm of designing on a desktop (that hardly anyone uses) then jamming it into a mobile interface…the best sites are developed the other way around (as an app is)…mobile interface first then work out from there. And most websites are way too slow for a mobile user.

    The young tend to play follow the leader with their contemporaries and to stay connected with them.

    The oldies want to play safe, an app that covers their needs is a simpler way to do stuff…and the open web is full of baddies out to get me.

    Every major institution offers an app in preference to using their website (and pushes it every time you use them). I think in part that’s because they want all their processes online, it’s cheaper for them and customers mainly use phones to access stuff. And my cynical mind thinks also easier to collect customer data and push notifications to them.

    I agree that given current trends direct access to the web is already in the early stages of dying…this will accelerate imo with the growth in connected devices like Google assistant. The open web is too hard to secure for some of that stuff to have small players wandering around loose using it and a captive market is always better than one that has choices.

    Maybe it’s all another example of me not seeing the wood for the trees.

    #1222452
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691
    Paul – FS Concierge, post: 268778, member: 78928 wrote:
    Thinking about small business, auto reminders and booking apps would work really well for automotive services, pest controllers and carpet cleaners too.

    I think the value would be looking for the verticals that would really benefit.

    Those verticals are the bit that I find interesting, how to best tackle them is the problem, especially marketing them with limited resources.

    In part I’m asking. If it works like a native app, in every respect. Does the business owner, or end consumer, even care.

    The business owner might if the cost of development is low enough, and their reach is potentially broader.

    #1222453
    Paul – FS Concierge
    Moderator
    • Total posts: 3,127

    If I was doing it Greg, I would look for a single vertical first and develop a well thought out sales funnel. Then use adwords and for some verticals, Facebook to promote it.

    I have always believed that ROI is king. So the funnel should be developed to showcase the benefits to the business (increased profits after all costs, more efficiency, less stress, a stronger,more saleable and sustainable business)…. it shouldn’t focus much at all on the technology.

    If you have some customers doing well, document, document, document and add examples and case studies to your sales funnel which will get stronger. Part of my pitch is “Caring for 90+ satisfied customers”

    Inertia is your friend.

    #1222454
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691
    Paul – FS Concierge, post: 268783, member: 78928 wrote:
    If I was doing it Greg, I would look for a single vertical first and develop a well thought out sales funnel. Then use adwords and for some verticals, Facebook to promote it.

    I have always believed that ROI is king. So the funnel should be developed to showcase the benefits to the business (increased profits after all costs, more efficiency, less stress, a stronger,more saleable and sustainable business)…. it shouldn’t focus much at all on the technology.

    If you have some customers doing well, document, document, document and add examples and case studies to your sales funnel which will get stronger. Part of my pitch is “Caring for 90+ satisfied customers”

    Inertia is your friend.

    That sounds like a good way to go to me, especially not pushing the tech stuff unless you want to put the audience to sleep.

    I didn’t have a particular personal project in mind posting this thread though…it was more about allocation of resources and the potential reach and demand i.e. preferred consumer tastes when it comes to mobile.

    I just couldn’t figure out why such horrible stuff to use imo (native apps), kept winning with consumers…guess there’s plenty of opportunity doing a better job with either approach.

    It could all become academic shortly anyway. Google especially, is pushing out tools and providing infrastructure to developers that already allows writing a native app for Android, iOS and the web (web still in beta) with one code base and one programming language (and there’s no html, css or javascript anywhere in sight).

    #1222455
    Johny
    Member
    • Total posts: 840

    I have become somewhat of a curmudgeonly git when it comes to all this, and can speak only from a users perspective rather than that of anyone with any sort of knowledge.

    I am still trying to figure out what “tech savvy” even means:-

    – I can code/build a website/app?
    – I can walk in to people in the street while looking at my phone, then glare at them as if they are at fault?
    – I can shuffle through several apps one handed?

    My main bugbear though is that we are losing skills such as communication, rational thought, the ability to do our own research etc.

    I have also never really understood why a small/micro business would necessarily pay thousands for website developers, and all the ongoing stuff that goes with that, then struggle to make it pay, when there are other means that can get you directly in front of people.. As per Paul – ROI should be king.

    Of course I am generalising, and I know there are good operators out there who provide good options, but there is certainly a lot to wade through the get to them.

    Give me an app any day. Even the best websites are clunky. I say this as someone who is slowly transitioning to more and more mobile phone use for the stuff I use/need regularly, while sitting at a desktop for anything that needs any real thought.

    But the question I have is this:

    If i have a small business, what services do my customers actually need? (as opposed to what I am going to give them)

    Convenience! Convenience! Convenience!

    #1222456
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691

    I think ‘tech savvy’ is relative to who you’re talking to, or the environment you’re in.

    In my street I’m tech savvy because I can turn a computer on without thinking about it, and I can explain the difference between the NBN and an old Telstra landline.

    For the micro businesses I still work for, it’s because I understand enough to get stuff done for them they want, and either can’t do themselves, or have better things to do (it’s usually both).

    In a room full of asynchronous javascript programmers I’m a dill.

    As long as you know enough not to get sucked in, or ripped off by tech speak in your personal/business requirements. You’re probably close enough imo.

    Do you reckon your preference for apps is because they handle a very specific task in a simple fashion and just cut to the chase, as opposed to the web where you have to jump through a few more hoops to find/do what you want?

    I’m also assuming it’s the mobile experience on the web you find clunky…just wondered because I assume in your work you use it a lot on a larger device. Or is it both?

    Cheers

    #1222457
    Johny
    Member
    • Total posts: 840

    Do you reckon your preference for apps is because they handle a very specific task in a simple fashion and just cut to the chase, as opposed to the web where you have to jump through a few more hoops to find/do what you want?

    Yep. I’d say that is correct.

    Having said that, they are all large companies, nothing small.

    I’m also assuming it’s the mobile experience on the web you find clunky…just wondered because I assume in your work you use it a lot on a larger device. Or is it both?

    I just don’t like using a phone to visit websites. I still have trouble getting my head around using a small screen to view them. Unless it is truly urgent, I’ll wait until I can sit down at my pc.

    But yes, part of that is the clunky nature of viewing the website on a phone.

    .

    #1222458
    Wozza
    Member
    • Total posts: 16

    I think it really depends on the type of business and the level of contact I have with them eg if its a local plumber. electrician do I really want his app on my phone? No I don’t.

    Cheers

    #1222459
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691
    Johny, post: 268812, member: 34822 wrote:
    Yep. I’d say that is correct.

    Having said that, they are all large companies, nothing small.

    I just don’t like using a phone to visit websites. I still have trouble getting my head around using a small screen to view them. Unless it is truly urgent, I’ll wait until I can sit down at my pc.

    But yes, part of that is the clunky nature of viewing the website on a phone.

    .

    Thanks,

    Seems the web experience is generally falling well short of consumer expectations on mobile.

    #1222460
    Wozza
    Member
    • Total posts: 16
    Greg_M, post: 268817, member: 38207 wrote:
    Thanks,

    Seems the web experience is generally falling well short of consumer expectations on mobile.
    Agreed, like I said in another post this morning its 2020 and a large number of businesses still do not have a mobile-friendly website.

    Unbelievable!!

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