I've literally just got back in the office from a meeting with a new client and this post is a result of my brain whirring on the drive home.
Today's meeting was to demo something i've been building for a while. It's a ground-breaking project, and something that clearly has legs to make a big impact for it's intended audience. The meeting went incredibly well; the client was clearly impressed with what's been done so far and the opportunities this project would bring for them.
Like most meetings of this sort, there came a point where the client was considering the future enhancements that could be made to this project. Their brain was working over-drive considering all the wonderful opportunities they would have, and what the future could bring in store for them. Personally, this is a moment that reinforces my passion for doing what i do. It is just simply magic.
We got chatting about the ideas they had, and one of the "coolest" was to develop a mobile app to sit alongside what we've already built. I agreed (as it was a bloody good idea) but rather than leaving it at that i took the time to give them some advice on what i've seen from this side of the fence.
The advice i gave was not to develop a mobile app. Crazy, i know given that i said it was a good idea above, and no, i am not under the influence of any festive spirits!!
I've seen a number of articles of late where they've discussed the popularity of mobile apps, and the trend i seem to be picking up on is that mobile apps are starting to hit the proverbial ceiling of popularity. Whilst i'm not suggesting they're suddenly going to disappear, i am conscious that there are alternatives out there to native mobile apps.
Whilst at this meeting, i took a moment to introduce "mobile web apps" to my client. I explained how the technology has progressed to enable most of the features you would expect to find on a native mobile app to work with a simple mobile-orientated web app.
From my point of view, the case for a mobile orientated web app is simple :
- Invariably cheaper to develop
- One pool of code for multiple devices, rather than individual projects for each type of mobile device.
- Quicker to update
- Removes any requirements for developer accounts with the vendors, thus saving money
- Bypasses any proprietary "app-stores" that may slow down or even reject your application's launch.
- Has "native" features such as gestures, multimedia etc etc
- Did i say it's very probably cheaper???
After running through some example web-apps (some of which didn't work!) i think i've helped my client make a decision that in the long run would save them an incredible amount of money.
I didn't offer this as a suggestion for commercial gains but because the requirements of the client better suited this route. By making them aware of all of their options, which ever route they take would be the right one for them.
This meeting got me thinking a bit more about what I do, and what clients need rather than what they want. As a web professional we're not just here to provide a service but to take moments to educate when necessary. When my client arrived and ordered their cappuccino today they weren't aware of mobile web-apps or how they might better suit their project. By taking the time to learn about what the overall plans were i was able to introduce them to new concepts and options.
To me, that's a job well done.