4 myths from the app vs. websites debate that you can forget about in 2020

When we think mobile, we often think of apps and with good reason – smartphone owners will collectively download around 205 billion apps this year alone. You may think that this means an app is the best way to get in front of your customers on mobile, but that’s not necessarily the case. There are a bunch of reasons that a mobile-friendly website may be a better option for you, especially if you’re planning on selling anything on your site.  

To help you make up your mind, let’s go through the top 4 myths that we hear about apps vs. websites and why you can kick them to the curb today.  

Apps are more versatile than websites 

There is no doubt that mobile is the way of the future, especially when it comes to buying things online. That being said, there is still a large proportion of online activity that takes place on laptops and desktop computers. One of the huge benefits of a well-designed website is that it seamlessly works across different platforms without needing a complete redesign for each.  

With apps, even though they’re just on mobile, you need to have a version that works with Apple devices and a completely different version for Android – and don’t even ask about Windows phones! Versatile? Maybe not so much. Add to this that a higher percentage of desktop searches result in sales than mobile searches and thinks start looking a little shaky for the app argument.  

Apps are easier to navigate and more enjoyable for the end user

Have you ever had an interesting ad or social media post catch your eye only to click through to a ‘download our app” page? I don’t know about you, but that’s usually a deal breaker for me. When it comes to ecommerce, time is the most valuable commodity.  

You have probably heard some variation of this before, but the average person online has an attention span of around 8 seconds. Sure, a particularly motivated shopper might download, install, sign-up and then search again for the thing that piqued their interest – but a lot of others simply won’t. An app with no users isn’t doing anyone much good.  

Adding to this dilemma is the fact that apps don’t often make it into Google search results, especially if someone is searching for a product rather than your specific app. Given that 35% of product searches on Google turn into transactions within a week, not being in those search results would be a pretty big disadvantage.  

With a website, you’ll be easy to find when your customers are looking for you and you’ll be more likely to make a sale when they do find you; and isn’t that really the whole point? Long story short, even if the experience is a little better once you’re in the app, a website is a much better bet when making sales is the name of the game. Which leads us to myth number 3: 

You can do more with an app than you can with a website

One of the upsides of a mobile app is the ability to create features and experiences that might not be possible on a typical website. It used to be the case that even simple websites didn’t work particularly well on mobile – but this far from the reality these days. Web design has come a long way. It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour but it’s worth asking what value this really adds to the online shopping experience?  

When people look for information online they want to find solutions to their problems and they want it to be easy and quick.  Unless you’re willing to spend a lot of time and energy on getting people to download your app there’s a good chance you won’t be considered a fast and easy option in the moment. So when someone needs to know, right now, where they can get their favourite fluffy socks, you might not look like their best option.  

Conversely, when you have a well-designed website you can still create a great experience for your customers without adding unnecessary extra steps. Keeping it simple and aligned with what your customers expect – that’s the path to success.  

I can get an off the shelf app that can be customised to my needs 

Okay, so this one isn’t a myth, per se. You can get white label apps which can be customised to suit your needs. Putting aside all the reasons that apps aren’t the ideal ecommerce solution in the first place, let’s consider what an off the shelf app might involve.  

Even if the option you choose is optimised for ecommerce, you can probably assume that no solution will be perfect for the way your business operates. It’s a bit like buying a car – you can choose your own wheels, colour and maybe even the seat fabric, but ultimately, it’s the same car underneath. You’ll be stuck with whatever systems and layouts the developer has prebuilt and if they don’t work for you, then you’ll be stuck.  

On that note, you’ll almost certainly need help from a developer as apps are inherently more complex than a website. So why go through this hassle when there’s a much simpler option? There are some great ‘off the shelf’ website options that are much simpler and give you greater control over the look and feel.  

We might be biased but this one is a pretty good option. Could be worth considering. Just a thought.  

So, there you have it. 4 reasons to get a website disguised as reasons not to get an app (pretty sneaky, right?). At the end of the day, it’s all about creating an experience that fits your customers’ expectations and gets you closer to your business goals. When you’re on a budget in a competitive market, a website will always be the better choice over an app. Period.