Applications for smart phones are extraordinarily popular today. With millions of users and billions of downloads it seems as though there really is an app for everything. But an app isn’t always the right solution for a client’s digital problems.
Forcing a user to download an app isn’t easy, especially if that user isn’t yet a customer and is still familiarizing themselves with the company. Sometimes customers don’t want to take the time to download an app they may never use again and take up valuable home screen real estate on their device, also the user could be in a place with less-than-perfect signal and downloading an app which could be several megabytes or larger in size may take a good deal of time and eat of a good deal of precious over-the-air data.
Enter the web-app; a perfect hybrid between a full-blown downloadable app and a mobile website. In fact, once ‘installed’ most users won’t be able to tell the difference.
We like to start with a mobile targeted website -- One that is tailored to modern Android and iOS devices and shows off what your company offers. This core site will contain a home page, a ‘what we do’ or similar page as well as a way for users to contact you, possibly using a contact form tailored for mobile users. You might also list products, services, locations and even allow users to browse inventory or individual products for sale.
Once the mobile experience is complete, we then put the finishing touches on it, and turn it into a web app. When a user visits the site with an iPhone or iPod device, they are asked if they want to install the app to their home screen. If they choose to install it, an icon is installed on the home screen – just like it would be with a full blown app-store app. When a user clicks on the icon, it opens up the site in the mobile browser, but with the following differences. First, a company-branded slash screen is displayed on the device while the site is actually loading in the browser. Second, the browser address bar is hidden, making the screen look just like a full blown app. Once loaded, the user can browse the site just like any other visitor.
Web apps aren’t without their limitations, however. Sometimes you need to be able to receive user uploads directly from within an application. While web apps can receive form submissions, including online orders, secure credit card information, and long text fields, they cannot accept files directly from the device, such as photos or videos. While there are workarounds such as semi-integrated email, many times the best solution for a situation where files are required is a traditional app.
With mobile web use surging, having a packaged yet simple solution for users to interact with your company on the web is just what many companies need to stay competitive in this ever-changing platform.