Will ferrell, old school

Apps are House Parties, Websites are Nightclubs

It’s all about the experience

House parties. Tailored, self-hosted gatherings where the visitors will have a lot in common.

Nightclubs. A less personal experience but you can go wild without trashing your own house.

As a freelance developer, I get asked by clients if I think they need a website or a mobile app quite often. My answer is always the same:

It depends on what experience you want.

The experience in question a lot of parallels with those between house parties and nightclubs.

Control

Despite any local knowledge you may have, your club experience lies in the hands of the party gods. The music that’s playing, the overall vibe and the queuing time for the bar all depend on external factors.

Similarly, when you develop a website, you can’t be sure a potential customer isn’t going to arrive on some javascript-disabled, antiquated browser. A flood of traffic to your site could cause your site to crash which means no one gets served.

Just like a house party, an app is a more personal experience, and generally a richer one too. Whether its cleaner animations or background uploads, you have far more control over the entire user experience.

So what’s this mean? If the user experience is an important selling point of your product then apps are the way to go.

Randomers

Nightclubs attract a varied mix of people. They’ll also be willing to give a place a visit if they’re randomly passing by. Conversely, you’re not going to travel thirty miles out of town to visit some random party.

A potential customer will be far more willing to check out your website than download you app. If we define cost in terms of time and effort rather than money then the upfront cost of installing an app is just too high.

So what’s this mean? If your goal is to attract brand new customers who are not familiar with your brand or product then apps aren’t for you.

Word of mouth

If a friend tells you about a house party they’re throwing you’re far more likely to remember it then some club they’re talking about heading to.

Similarly an app stays installed on a users phone and thus more to the fore of their mind than a website bookmark on their browser.

So what’s this mean? Getting your app on someone’s phone can lead to more regular engagement which in turn leads to greater spread via word of mouth.

Risky business

You’ve gone to the bother of moving all the furniture out of the living room, buying in drinks and making a killer dance mix for your party but then, for one reason or another, nobody shows.

Throwing a party is a big investment - and so is developing an app. Build a native takes time and money and, just like some parties, no one might turn up and download the thing. Of course, a website may be just as expensive but in today’s marketplace, it’s generally cheaper to build a website than native app.

So what’s this mean? If you’re unsure of whether you should launch an app or not - get some friends to help just like you would for a party. Get some honest feedback and whether they’d download your app. See if they know a developer or designer who can help you out and provide some professional advice.

Conclusion

There’s no one answer that applies to every situation but your decision will mainly be driven by desired experience and budget.

If you’d like some advice on your idea for an app or website, then just get in touch through my website or find me on twitter.