Tackling ‘app fatigue’ and a look at where native apps hold the upper hand over Progressive Web Apps
In last week’s issue of H! Lites, we touched on the idea of ‘app fatigue’ and how PWAs are being seen as a solution to this. In this short article, we will take a look at the other side of the coin — in what ways do native apps trump PWAs as well as how to tackle app fatigue.
- First and foremost, app fatigue is really only a concern for those who build the wrong product in the first place — i.e. a gimmick/fad or a product that isn’t grounded in consumer insight. It is imperative to build something that is highly focused and that will provide genuine, ongoing utility for consumers. Part of this means not trying to be everything to everyone and truly understanding who you are building a product for and why rather than having a hit and hope approach.
- Sometimes, building a great product isn’t enough — you may need to politely nudge users if they are to realise the value of your product. Users uninstall apps because they aren’t continuously servicing a need and are simply gathering dust. There are a variety of techniques that can be deployed to ensure that they become regular users of your product when the download it. This includes a personalised, well-considered onboarding journey that invites a user to ‘invest’ in the product or a scientific approach to push notifications (and not a scatter-gun, generic approach!) that is powered by a CRM engine and uses some common sense in frequency and nature of messaging.
- The drivers behind app fatigue are becoming less relevant — App fatigue stems from typical consumer worries around their phone being full, slowing down or a large collection of apps leading to battery drain. However, it is worth remembering that these issues are becoming less of a problem with every passing year:
i) Manufacturers are introducing higher storage variants (Apple has dropped 16gb iPhones with 32gb being the default base model and the same is true of major Android device manufacturers too)
ii) Batteries are getting bigger as demand for this rises. When you couple this with the fact that iOS and Android are benefitting from under the hood improvements that improve performance management, the result is that we can expect better battery life going forward
iii) The state of the art in processors is constantly advancing so much so that the difference in performance between budget devices and the top of the line devices cannot be discerned. ‘Slow phones’ will simply no longer exist in a few years.
Long story short, the conscious decision to delete apps make no longer be an issue in the future. However, this doesn’t solve the problem of turning consumers into engaged users of your product which is what makes the point 1 above so important.
So, where do apps hold the upper hand over PWAs?
- Apps have a bespoke showroom that PWAs don’t — There exists no centralised platform for discovering PWAs. Users’ first instinct is still to go to the App/Play Store when they are looking to service certain needs. This is where the less well understood (and therefore grossly undervalued) art of App Store Optimisation (ASO) comes into play. An effective, ongoing and hypothesis-led ASO strategy (e.g. app title, copy, images, videos and keywords) can attract and convert the type of high-value users that your product was built for.
- Apps have a means to convey credibility — Similarly, a lack of a showroom means PWAs don’t benefit from user reviews and ratings which, when positive, can improve visibility in app stores and drive acquisition through perceived credibility. Also, these reviews and ratings provide a product team with clear feedback which can inform the future of a product. Users explicitly telling you what you need to do if your product is to stay relevant in their lives is gold dust (and also helps to tackle app fatigue)!
- Apps still outperform PWAs when it comes to performance and analytics — Native apps are targeted at iOS/Android and therefore will always outperform PWAs when it comes to performance. Native apps can also access in-built hardware such as Touch ID and Face ID whereas PWAs cannot. Finally, with native apps, product teams can leverage specialist, feature-rich mobile analytics solutions such as Localytics. However with PWAs, you are limited to the web-focused and somewhat limited Google Analytics. Simply put, your ability to learn about user behaviour is made slightly harder with PWAs which makes prioritising a product road map difficult.
We hope this gives you a more balanced perspective on these issues. This article is by no means exhaustive so if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please feel free to drop Rob, our Strategy & Partnerships Lead, a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.