Extending Your Mobile App Online

Let’s say that you or your business have a mobile app. It’s good—that is, it’s functional, it’s engaging, and your users like it. It’s a hit. So what’s the next step? For many people, the next logical step is to create what’s known as a web app. What is that, and why would people be so keen on creating it? Here’s a quick primer on the wonderful world of web apps.

What Are Web Apps? 

The easiest way to think about web apps is as dynamic websites—like websites with the functionality of desktop software or mobile apps. In other words, for our purposes, they’re like an extension of your mobile app online. And while web apps can approximate the functionality of your mobile app, they can also offer different services to complement the things your mobile app does.

Not every web app has a mobile app attached to it, of course. Some businesses decide that they don’t need a mobile app with their web applications, and that may be a reasonable approach depending on the business they’re in. A business may choose to develop an online training system as a web app, for example, but may decide that there is no benefit to pairing it with a mobile app. But when it comes to mobile apps, there are definite benefits to having both.

Why Develop A Web App?

Some people may argue that they already have a mobile app, and therefore don’t need a web app—but that ignores the upsides of having a web app working in tandem with existing mobile capabilities. One of the biggest benefits of web apps is an increased potential customer reach. If someone is on a computer and wants to access your service, having a web app allows them to engage for longer and more often with what you provide.

Consider apps like Instagram or Uber: although both Instagram and Uber are more well-known for their mobile apps, they each also offer users a web app. While neither really needs a web app—most users would likely be happy to continue using the apps if they were smartphone- or device-only—having full functionality on the web as well offers a more comprehensive experience. The web apps that Uber or Instagram have developed may attract different users, for example, such as people who are interested in Uber’s service but who are not as comfortable with smartphones, or Instagram users whose smartphones get lost or broken, but who can continue to engage with the Instagram community. In many cases, the better question to ask is not “why should I have a web app?” but “why shouldn’t I have a web app?” If people want to use your app, let them—no matter how they prefer to interact with it.

Guaraná Technologies — recently rated one of the top app developers in Canada for 2018 by Clutch.co and CrowdReviews — have plenty of experience cross-developing mobile and web apps, and they identify three major qualities that web apps should demonstrate. The first is reliability: instant loading and resistance to even uncertain network conditions. Second is speed: they should respond quickly to user input and animations should always be smooth. The last is that they should be engaging: web apps should feel natural and immersive. Ensure that web apps follow these rules and users won’t feel a shock when they cross over from mobile apps to their web counterparts.

At the end of the day, it’s all about users. Giving your users more ways to interact with your app is, simply put, a good idea. Let them branch out, let them show your app off to different users using different mediums, and let them keep engaging with your product. Whether you’re a new startup or you’re Instagram, odds are that having a web app is going to be a smart move.