It’s widely accepted that mobile is essential for businesses looking to engage an ‘always-on’ audience, and while it’s clear that integrated strategies for mobile and tablet are a proven way to increase sales and engagement channels, there is no ‘magic bullet’ for mobile development. Even as mobile applications and technology mature, there still remains a degree of confusion around what is and isn’t possible or desirable. Here are four myths which developers should be aware of before getting started:
Myth 1 – HTML5 websites mean that mobile app development will be a thing of the past
While HTML5 can provide a shortcut if brands want to leverage their existing web capabilities, developing an app as part of your service offering has some key benefits.
First, apps can remember state, allowing users to quickly get back to what they doing – much more suitable for users on the move who are often interrupted by location, situation, lack of signal etc. Apps retain information about users and are less dependent on connectivity, so they can be personalised and there’s no waiting for a user interface to load page by page. This means information is faster to display and functionality is still available even in areas of low or no connectivity. Finally, there is now an expectation that brands have an app for digital services that will be used more than once (bank balances, tickets, shopping, order tracking, etc), where websites can be unreliable or just not up to the job.
Myth 2 – Everyone will be using apps soon
Despite the smartphone’s near-ubiquity, there are still a lot of users who have no interest in apps – they have a smartphone because it was free with their contract, or they use Facebook and mobile email but little else.
Myth 3 – Android is the biggest platform
On paper there is no denying Android is the largest platform – but as the OS of choice for the cheapest smartphones, its users are most likely to be ‘disinterested’ (some don’t even know they own an Android phone).
Myth 4 – Responsive design is always the answer
Responsive design is the current darling of the web development world. But, while it’s a good tool for meeting the challenges of three-device deployment (mobile, tablet, desktop), a ‘jack of all trades’ approach can result in an unoptimised user journey for each device, and responsive design requires specialist developers to do it well, which may be too much for in-house teams.
It can also harm SEO rankings, and from a content perspective it’s hard to nail down definite specifications for content providers.
As platform architectures are beginning to separate the ‘data’ layer from the ‘presentation’ layer as a matter of course, there may be negligible time saved in opting for a responsive site over multiple front ends.
The widespread use of smartphones and significant growth in tablet ownership means that businesses can’t afford to ignore mobile as a medium to generate sales and increase engagement. There’s no doubt that it can be a fantastic tool – but only if it’s approached in the right way, with the right kind of research and a solid strategy. Otherwise, you could find yourself making an expensive and time-consuming mistake which at best is overlooked and at worst damages your brand.