Why apps are now more popular than websites

min read
Amid mobile dominance in searches, firms leverage app downloads, push notifications, and rising mobile usage to boost sales and brand visibility.
Will Yoxall
CEO & Founder
July 29, 2022

Why apps are now more popular than websites

Mobile phones are now the most common device used to search anything online, at any given time. As a result, more and more websites will now immediately present you with a modal (fancy UI term for a modern pop-up) to encourage you to download their app and continue your journey there. But what’s the advantage of this?

Surely some users will be put off by the interrupting request to download, perhaps due to the balancing act of maintaining phone storage or even concerns over privacy and security.

Well, in this article we explore a few of the reasons why companies do pursue this tactic and why the simplicity and convenience of providing free downloadable apps is becoming increasingly popular for companies in a variety of industries.

GDPR - push notifications > email campaigns

Since GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) came into force in May 2018, email campaigns (previously a marketers favourite tool) have become less effective. Now, more users are aware they can easily opt out of marketing emails, and in doing so, avoid endless spam from each and every company they have ever purchased an item or service from. It is also now a requirement that customers who are about to purchase through a website or register for a service, can choose to opt-out before they have even clicked the sign up/purchase button. In fact, your users now have to opt-in if they want marketing emails, and let’s face it, who wants to opt-in for an inbox full of marketing emails.

But now, mobile apps can use push notifications to achieve the exact same marketing aim. The least intrusive notifications will appear as a number on your application on your mobiles Home Screen, informing you of how many unseen notifications this specific application has for you. While in the most intrusive form you will experience a marketing message on your locked phone screen, complete with a short and snappy marketing message, which when clicked will link you directly to the product, offer, or simply the company’s app. While it is possible to turn the more “intrusive” notifications off, you need to navigate your phones settings and select the apps you wish to silence, but how to successfully achieve this is not as widely known and requires a number of clicks to achieve.

Put simply, a user has to opt-out of marketing alerts with mobile apps, rather than opting in with email marketing.

Increased time on mobile devices

It is a well known fact that we are spending far more time on our mobile devices and tablets than ever before. Smart phones have become so much faster and user friendly, thanks to improved processors and increased focus on user interface/usability respectively. Therefore, many people now have a limited need for a desktop computer.

As such websites now need to be built responsively, allowing the same site to functionally work across all devices and screen sizes. “Mobile first” is a methodology that is commonly used in web development to achieve two goals. Firstly, as mobile is the device of choice for many people, it ensures your largest user base has the best user experience when using your service. Secondly, as mobiles are often operating over 3G/4G (and more recently 5G) cellular networks, it ensures that images and content can be served smaller and at lower resolutions (if the device/network makes it appropriate) to allow a more seamless user experience. In addition, content is also streamlined so that the most important content is visible first. This is especially important when screen real-estate is at a premium.

Responsive websites are more suited to mobile devices, but it’s the full blown mobile applications that provide the perfect UI where every page is optimised for that device. At Untapped, we ensure all our websites are mobile friendly, but a website is still a product that is optimised for all devices. Nothing can beat a mobile application for the easiest use on a mobile device. In addition to a better user experience, another advantage of mobile apps when compared to a website is the familiarity and convenience that draws people in.

Most of us are guilty for mindlessly scrolling through our phones when we are bored. So much so that it is almost becoming second nature in the modern world we live in. One industry that nicely illustrates the advantage of having your consumers download your app is Retail, and for today we shall focus on the large retail store, Next. I have chosen Next as I have recently had my first child (Jaxon - the biggest bundle of joy in the world!) and therefore, continuously finding myself using the Next application. Especially when it becomes obvious that Jax has jumped a clothes size or two or is in desperate need of a new toy, bedding, the next stage rocker etc etc. I could instead google ‘pack of 6-9month baby vests’ and scroll through a selection of online stores, compare prices, to only end up on an unfamiliar site, albeit with the cheapest or most pretty designs, but find out in the end delivery is extortionate and could take up to two weeks to arrive.

Time is of the essence with a full time job and 5 month old, so good old familiarity and convenience wins majority of the time. One simply click on the app and, with me already being familiar with the user journey, I can order what I need in next to no time at all. Not only this, but when I am often procrastinating and mindlessly scrolling on my phone, I often see the app in passing and ultimately click and buy those bath towels or sofa cushions my partner and I have discussed several times but have often forgot to order.

Mobile apps increase the use of your service and increase sales, simply because they are more visible.

Companies that are built around a mobile application product

Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, Deliveroo and most recently TikTok (to name but a few) are prime examples of multi-billion dollar companies that are centered and built around a mobile application. These perfectly illustrate that a product can be successfully built and thrive without ever having a “desktop”/browser version of the product. Instagram, one of the most popular mobile products ever developed, has only recently made their service available on the web!

The global mobile application market size is expected to reach $407.31 billion by 2026 (Source: Allied Market Research). Everyone wants a piece of the pie and why not?! Anyone with an app idea can make it a reality with start-up investment and a partner such as us at Untapped.

The pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19, and subsequently multiple enforced lockdowns, has increased the use of digital services from entertainment apps such as social media and gaming apps to healthcare/educational apps.

E-commerce in particular has also thrived due to customers no longer having the choice to visit and browse the high street but instead, they were limited to online shopping only.

Equally, more digital services have become household names as opposed to only office tools such as Zoom, Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams.

In my opinion, the global pandemic has led to widespread trust of digital products and services, and this trust is very likely to continue long after.

Conclusion and our pledge

Overall, it is easy to see why mobile app products have grown in popularity over the last few years and will continue to do so!

At Untapped we are experienced experts in delivering mobile applications and websites that are cost effective and user friendly. If you or your company are thinking of harnessing the increasingly growing user base, then get in touch for a friendly chat to see how we can help. We are more than happy to offer our knowledge and advice to those who ask!

In recent years we have helped passionate entrepreneurs build and execute what starts as a pipe dream to a fully operational digital business complete with mobile application and/or website. Can we help you too?

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