Fuck your mobile app.
No, not you, you world changing developers of actually useful mobile apps. Let’s get that out of the way right up front. I’m talking to you, content providers, public utilities, financial institutions, and the myriad other folks begging me to “TRY THE MOBILE APP!!11!” when a half decent responsive website would deliver the services you already provide to the desktop just fine*. It’s 20 god damn 17, and you’re still serving up a crappy website with the suggestion that I download your mobile app. More than 60% of ALL FREAKING WEB TRAFFIC is mobile, and yet you persist in not taking advantage of the most ubiquitous service platform on the web: the browser.
What’s worse, your mobile apps are terrible. A well designed responsive website is light, fast, modern, and quite well…app-like. Your apps are at best, equivalent to a good mobile site, and at average, terribly dated in design. Which isn’t a surprise, given that your desktop experience is generally the same. You literally could not give less of a fuck about your user experience, and you want to demand that we install your buggy, bloated, ugly as shit mobile app to make up for that fact.
*I’m not going to name any of the companies in particular because they have very expensive lawyers on staff. But, if you have internet service, or public utilities, or read news online, or interact with your city’s website, or post in certain community forums, or check the menus at local restaurants, or any other site that works fine on your desktop but sucks terribly when viewing the site on mobile, and it suggests installing a mobile app, then you know exactly who I’m talking about.
No. I refuse. It’s time for a manifesto about mobile experience, and I’m just the asshole to write it. We, as users, demand better of you. Smart companies will take note of the points below.
1. It’s not that fucking hard to do mobile.
Bootstrap has been around for five fucking years. You include it in your website. You use the class names. You design in a 12 column grid. Trust me, your existing crappy design can convert to a Bootstrap driven theme in a couple of weeks max (and if not, holy shit, what spaghetti hell is your website code?). And Bootstrap is exactly one of literally hundreds of options for a mobile experience that all fundamentally require nothing more than inclusion of a library, and some structural design on front end markup.
Given that, your piss poor mobile experiences come down to just one of two things:
- You are completely oblivious to your users.
You don’t have good analytics, or any of the other user testing tools which give you insight into the platforms used by your users, and the interactions they have on your website. The person directing your technology is either hopelessly out of date on what’s possible, or simply doesn’t possess the skills to advise you as an organization correctly.
- You literally couldn’t give a rat shit about your users.
Just admit it, already. We already know it. You’re most likely a sizable company in your industry, and could easily improve your users’ experience, but you couldn’t give a hot fuck, and your product support (no matter what that product is) probably reflects this as well. Googling your name likely reveals millions of results from domains like yourcompanynamehereisareallyshittycompany.com. Business Insider has written a post titled something like “Is YourCompanyName going to die a painful death because of their shitty customer service?” You’re hated on Reddit, and there’s a twitter hashtag with your company name connected to an illegal act involving corpses.
2. No one wants an app for your services.
And what’s more, they don’t need one. Something near 100% of your website is comprised of two object types: content display, and forms. You need to display a story with ads, or useful information, or media of some sort. Or, you need the user to input information of some sort, whether it’s an inquiry, a financial transaction, or some other information type, through discrete form fields.
None of this needs a mobile app.
There are only two reasons we’re willing to install a mobile app:
- There is something about the app which fundamentally requires access to native mobile functionality.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some amazing apps which provide a function or service which would be difficult to impossible to accomplish through the browser. Google’s Sky Map was one of the first apps I ever used which really used the phone in a way that hinted at the coming future of mixed reality, by allowing me to literally look out into space by adjusting the position of my smart phone. This is the kind of thing apps are for: allowing you to engage with technology in a way that is specific to the specs of your mobile device.
- You streamline our ability to broadcast media to a social audience.
Instagram made it easy to take any basic phone camera pic and turn it into something worth looking at long enough to heart it (like it? love it? I can’t keep track. It’s different on every network). The ease of building a follower base means you can broadcast that social post to a sizable audience, which means more social engagement, which leads to more posting, blah blah blah. Every cool new social service you’ve seen over the last five years falls into this category.
Did you see your app model up there? No? That’s most likely because you didn’t need an app, you asshole. You really just needed a responsively designed website.
If you can make my life easier by swiping my finger to log into your app, cool. If I need to move my phone around, or use some incredible native processing ability to make my amateurish bullshit photos look like something that people would like, cool. If you’re specifically taking advantage of something that fundamentally can’t be done through the browser, cool. Build an app. If not, save your fucking money, and just make your website mobile responsive.
3. No one is going to download it anyways.
No, seriously. I’m not trying to be an asshole (well, I guess it’s a bit late for that), but no one wants your app. Seriously. And even you big ass companies, your adoption is going to be wildly below the national average for adoption, because we don’t fucking need them.
And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? When you don’t put the minimum effort in to give at the very least a comparable user experience between desktop and mobile, you’re giving a giant fuck you to your user base. And while some of your audience will suck it up and install your shitty app, the vast majority of us won’t.
Are you even accounting for that in your P&L’s?
Please, for the love of god, catch up to at least somewhere in this decade, and provide a browser based experience for your mobile users which isn’t analogous to getting dragged into an alley and mugged. And I don’t mean that in a good way.
It would literally cost you pennies on the dollar. Please, for the love of god, stop fucking with us.
And in case you forgot, fuck your mobile app.