I came across an article last night in Smashing Magazine (one of my favorite web and mobile design resources by the way) that contained a great summary of mobile app design advice. The article is titled “Lessons Learned From An App Graveyard” and is written by user experience and usability strategist Lyndon Cerejo. It’s a collection of 10 tips that are a must read for anyone designing a mobile experience, whether web or native.

While I believe all 10 are important, his first lesson, titled “Validate The Need For An App” stands out above the rest for me. Primarily because it is so fundamental in the decision on how to go mobile. In this lesson, he makes two critical points that anyone deciding between developing for web and native must consider. The first point is

If your content and functionality can be better served to users through a responsive website or Web app, then you have no real need for a native app.

The second point is

The decision [between web and native] should be driven by business goals, user needs and the user experience.

I couldn’t agree more with his thoughts on the topic. People need to step back and think about the business goals and how mobile fits into their strategy before jumping into the native app game. Plus, as Lyndon points out, a web-based approach can, in many cases, provide the same user experience as a native approach. It’s also easier for the user to find using web searches, easier for the business to promote via email and social media, and doesn’t require overcoming the obstacles of the user downloading the app and then actively using it.

Native apps are hard, not just too create, but to do right in such a way that it creates a user experience that brings the user back to it. Otherwise, the money and effort you invest in the app will end up in the “app graveyard” to use Lyndon’s term.  If there’s not a significant business goal you’re trying to accomplish or a technical limitation that you’re trying to overcome, then going native is not the right answer.

If you’re struggling with the decision between web and native, please contact us to schedule a free consultation of your current mobile presence and plans. We have experience in both web and native mobile design and can help you determine which approach, or a combination of web an native, are right for your business.