No, You Don't Need to Make an App

November 30, 2016
Mike Faga

When the app bubble of 2008-2009 burst (not to be confused with the real estate bubble), over the next few years every business that could afford a developer started making applications for phones. Since then, getting a developer has gotten much easier, and much more affordable.

I can't describe how many clients I've had where we sit down for our regular consult session, and they bring up the dreaded six word sentence: "We want to build an app."

If your business is purely based on a mobile app, (Mark Zuckerburg, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram, thanks for reading my blog) skip this blog post. Or send it to someone that may need it. The rest of you keep reading.

Websites: Cool let's build one. If your business doesn't have a great website, you're leaving a lot of money on the table.

Internal-use software application: Great, if it's necessary (There are plenty of options online that might meet your needs, i.e. shameless plug: Studio MFP)

Digital Executive Assistance: Super useful and I highly recommend it

Mobile app: Please, dear God, ask yourself why do your customers need this....

The mobile application is only fitting for a few reasons.

  1. Your customers can't perform regular daily actions by visiting your mobile site (most likely)
  2. Your customers need to store data locally on mobile (probably not, but viable)
  3. Your customers actually want an application (if you claim this, show me the data and then we'll talk)

Most of the time, your business just needs a mobile optimized website. That usually does the trick. 

Let's look at what does need a mobile app. Take some big names for example: Facebook and Twitter.

You can do literally everything that a regular user needs, on the mobile site. Why have a mobile app then, Mike? Facebook's app is one of the most used apps ever.

I'll get to that in a second, calm down.

Twitter is the same way. Every task that a user needs is accessible via the mobile optimized site.

The caveat is that those apps store data locally. Your newsfeed is pre-loaded onto your phone while you scroll to make it smooth, effortless, and easy to use. It stores data that tracks your habits as well. And other things like the ability to post offline, or use the built in cameras of your new smartphone. Also, getting notifications via the app. Very useful since they spend hours every day using that app. (Do your customers access your business's app or website for hours every day?)

But if you think about it hard enough, these aspects of Facebook, Twitter, and other mobile app giants have features that aren't available on the desktop or web but do on mobile.

That is the value proposition of a mobile application. Your customers want those features.

Now I'm not sorry, but no one is going to use "Sam's Auto Shop" as a mobile app. There's no need. They'll just hop onto Google and ask "why is my check engine light on" or "why does my car sound like a dying horse?"

How many mobile apps do you have on your phone, or have downloaded, opened once or twice, and never opened it again?

There are millions of apps out there now. So the likelihood of you having a "breakout app" for your business is a hard sell. You need to have the next Instagram or Snapchat. And, even still, it's harder now than ever to keep a users attention.

25% of apps are downloaded, opened once, and then abandoned. According to TechCrunch, 90% of apps are eventually deleted from their phones as well. Only 16% try a failed app more than one time.

The need here is immense for your app to be flawless from the start. If it starts up after no less than four or five seconds, say goodbye. Most consumers won't tolerate a slow app. And don't even ask if it freezes or crashes. They won't even use it.

So take this into consideration when developing your business's website. Should you optimize it for mobile, or do you need to make an app? Let's talk. Drop me a line at if you have any ?'s about getting a mobile optimized site.