The User Experience Blog
Dialogue around issues and ideas that impact user experience

Does Your Website Really Need a Mobile App?

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Word on the street is that if you have a great site you should create a mobile app. I’ve been hearing it a lot from clients lately that everybody is on their phone and “if users could access our information then our product will be more valuable.” Is this just a fad or is it valid? Well, that depends on your customers and your business goals.

First and most importantly, do your customers access the internet with their mobile phones? If the majority of your customers only make calls on their phone, then designing for mobile is really not

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Second, can tasks

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be easily accomplished on a mobile phone? Is it possible to create an abbreviated experience of your current site that is focused on a handful of tasks? If users have to fill out long forms or complete complex processes they are not going to be doing it on a mobile phone. Jakob Nielson points out in his post on Mobile Usability that poorly designed mobile sites will create a miserable experience for users. Putting your website as is on a mobile phone will likely not work.

Third, how’s your current site doing? If there are major issues on your website or the back-end is not as efficient as it could be, it makes more sense to focus the dollars on improving your site and saving mobile for later.

I am not encouraging caution over innovation. For me, innovation is about revolutionizing the experience of the user. The user is still the center of this equation. If your users do not access the internet on their phone, creating a mobile app is not revolutionary; it’s a waste of time and money.

If you’re not sure what your customer base is currently doing regarding mobile usage, start with the analytics for your site to see if any of customers have used their phone to find information and continue to track that number to see if it increases. Add some basic questions to each usability test you run in the future. These could include questions like:

  1. Do you currently access websites using your mobile phone? If yes, which websites do you visit?
  2. Do you have apps on your phone? If yes, which ones?
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    Which of these apps do you use most often?

If your users answer yes to either of these questions also ask the following questions:

  1. Have you ever looked for information on [clients product] using your phone? Why or why not?
  2. Is there any functionality on the site you would not want to do on a mobile phone?
  3. What would you want to do on your mobile phone? (This question is tricky and can often be answered with “everything” which is just not true, so I then have users rank functionality they use most often to functionality used least often)

Gathering research on mobile usage along the

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way gives you a better sense of when or if a mobile app is needed. It’s bad business to develop a mobile app now just because everyone else is.

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2 Responses to “Does Your Website Really Need a Mobile App?”

  1. [...] About Dialogue around issues and ideas that impact user experience « Does Your Website Really Need a Mobile App? [...]

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