Dear *insert website name,*
Please stop asking me to your mobile app. I don’t want want to use it. I don’t care if you think your app is the bee’s knees. If I wanted to use your app, I’d go to the app store and download said app. But I didn’t do that. Instead, I’m writing this article to state the obvious.
I prefer to access your service within the comfort of a browser, thank-you-very-much.
It’s fine to tell me to download your app the first time I visit your page, or even send me a reminder now and then. You have to let people know your app exists, sure. But constant reminders, massive banners, and flat-out preventing me from using basic features on your mobile site — looking at you, Reddit — is just hostile.
I get it. You paid developers a lot of money to create an app for the smoothest native software experience. It probably lets you implement fancier features that are hard to incorporate on a website. But I still don’t want to use it.
Here’s the thing: a native app offers the best experience for your brand, but it’s not the best experience for using my phone. Guess which experience I care about more.
Besides, sometimes using a browser is just better. The modern browser is basically an operating system within an operating system, and the in-app experience is rarely worth it over the convenience of just visiting a website. Worse, native apps are often plagued with frustrating limitations compared to their web equivalents. To list some common ones off the top of my head:
- I can’t open links/pages in new tabs
- I can’t open multiple instances of an app for multi-tasking or research
- Apps often introduce unexpected bugs with updates that are rare to see on a mobile site
- I can’t bookmark content for easy retrieval
- Even if I can bookmark things, I can’t organize bookmarks alongside content from other services
- It takes longer to open an app than to simply type a URL or open a bookmark when I’m already in a browser
- I often can’t copy and paste text from apps without clumsy workarounds
- I often can’t easily save images
- More apps clutter my phone’s launcher
- I can’t see my history
- Navigation and UI behaviors are often more consistent in a browser (I know exactly where the back gesture is going to take me, for instance)
- Apps require extra storage
- Apps often request unnecessary permissions
- Apps will often bombard my phone with notifications I didn’t ask for. Even if I can disable them, it’s annoying
That’s a lot to deal with if I’m just trying to read comments on a stupid meme or watch a cute animal video.
There’s a reason people tend to do so many things from a browser on their PCs — it’s just more convenient. There may have been a time when using a native app was unequivocally superior, but unless said app requires a good deal of processing horsepower or fancy code for its most basic functionality, chances are I’d rather use it from a browser.
I repeat: if I wanted to use your app, I’d already have downloaded it. Even when I do download an app, I still don’t want to use it all the time. Annoying your users into submission isn’t good design.
So, pretty please, stop pestering me.
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