If you’re developing a website today, there’s a good chance you’re facing pressure to “app it”—that is, create a mobile app that users can run as an alternative to accessing it through a web browser. There is some evidence that most End users prefer apps over websites (Albeit other studies as well found different results).
Plus, it’s easy to make a business case that engaging with users through apps is better than websites because apps provide more control—not to mention the better ability to collect data that many businesses strive for. For Better or Worse.
However, this does not mean that all developers should give in to pressure from managers or app-loving end users to turn their websites into apps. From a technical point of view, there are still many solid reasons no to create apps as an alternative to websites. When deciding between mobile apps and websites, this article discusses seven reasons why developers should stick with legacy websites instead of creating flashy mobile apps.
1. Applications are more device and operating system dependent
In general, compared to a website, the performance and user experience of an app is more likely to vary due to differences between mobile devices and operating systems. On a website, browser differences can affect the website’s behavior, but factors such as hardware functionality and operating system configuration are unlikely to affect the website.
This means that website development requires less testing and less worry about end users with untested devices crashing the user experience. As long as you test your sites on the major mobile browsers, they will likely work well for almost all of your users. But unless you’re testing your app a tens of thousands Due to the combination of different mobile devices and operating systems, it is difficult to guarantee a great experience for all users.
2. Websites load faster
In most cases, a website is likely to load faster for users than an app. The main reason is simple: Websites run in a web browser, and it’s likely that users’ browsers are already open, so less initialization is required to load the website. In contrast, to run an application, the application must start from scratch.
To be sure, the loading speed of both apps and websites can vary depending on a number of factors—like whether or not you cache and store data, and what exactly needs to be loaded at the start of a session—but in general, websites tend to have faster load times. like applications.
3. Websites still exist across devices
A common problem with mobile apps is that they don’t always migrate when users switch to a new device. This means that users who don’t want to take the time to reinstall the app can leave it.
Websites are not affected by this issue. Your website can run in any browser on any device, with no installation required. In this sense, websites offer developers an easier way to distribute their software to users than apps.
4. Websites mean simpler development operations
If you decide to create an app for your website, you’ll likely need to create and manage an additional software delivery process for your app—or possibly several additional processes if you need to create both Android and iOS versions of your app. . Most of your app’s code will be the same as your website, but not all of it is the same, so you need separate sets CI/CD processes.
This means that launching a mobile app can more or less double the amount of work that developers have to do. But it won’t really double what they produce, because the website and the app will basically do the same thing, just in a different form. It would probably be a better use of development resources to create a separate website than to create an application that makes an existing website – and the CI/CD process that runs it – redundant.
5. Websites simplify security
Because websites run in a browser, they are more isolated from the devices that host them and the data on those devices than mobile apps. This means that security issues affecting websites are generally less serious than those affecting mobile apps.
This doesn’t mean you can simply ignore your website’s security issues; unsafe websites can certainly lead to the user’s device being compromised. But the overall risk is slightly lower than with an app.
6. Website updates are easier and more reliable
Most mobile apps update automatically. But if they don’t do this for some reason, such as incorrect permission settings on the device, users can end up with apps with performance or security issues because app developers can’t push out updates.
Developers don’t have to worry about missing site updates. Since website content is hosted on servers they control, they can send out updates whenever they want without worrying about what’s happening on users’ devices. Every user of the website gets an up-to-date experience, which is not always the case with apps.
7. Websites use less storage
Apart from the data stored in the browser, websites do not take up any space on users’ devices. You can’t say the same about apps, which can easily happen annoy users by draining the limited storage capacity of their phones and tablets.
As a result, developers must work harder when creating applications to effectively manage persistent storage. With websites, hosting is simply easier.
Mobile apps and websites: say no
I’ll admit it: I was inspired to write this article when a website I frequent – which has “everything news that’s fit for print” – started nagging me to download their app instead of checking out the content on their website. It made me wonder how much better the world would be if developers weren’t constantly trying to push apps on users when websites can do the job just as well.
Then I realized that in many cases it is probably not the developers themselves who are trying to force users to download apps. Their bosses want customers to download apps because it gives businesses more control over customers and the customer experience—not to mention a wealth of data collection opportunities.
So, if you’re a developer who, like me, resents having to download your company’s mobile app when its website works well, use the tips above to push back against higher-ups to use your organization’s website. Tell them that running an app is technically not a good idea, no matter how good it sounds for the business.
About the authorChristopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers, and more. He also lectures at a major university in Albany, New York. His book, For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution, was published by MIT Press.