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I’m not going to download your app (part 2)

From xkcd…

Right now, there’s a strong segment of folks who are so convinced that apps are superior to the web that they’re going to remind you they have one every single time you visit their site. That’s really annoying.

Don’t get me wrong - I love apps. But for reading, a dedicated app for a website is not what I want or need.

Content Blocking

At least sites that take the approach in the xkcd comic give you the option. Quora will only let you read their stuff through an app, or if you’re on a desktop, while logged in.

Scott Hanselman riffs…

quora-app-block This implementation goes against everything on the web. You're not just actively preventing me from visiting your site by forcing me to log in, but you're also actively forcing me to download your app to access your server. I don't want your app. Apps are too much like 1990's CD-ROMs and not enough like the Web.

Apps need a purpose

I’m not against paywalls. In fact, I think asking money for things that you make is a wonderful idea! But I am against preventing access to otherwise open content just to drive up the numbers on a me-too app.

As Tom Morris wrote is his post on apps vs. the web…

In the “web vs. apps” war, I think you can infer which side I’m on. I wouldn’t download a BBC app or an NPR app for my computer. Why would I want one on my phone? Do I buy a separate radio to listen to different stations? No. The functionality is the same, the only thing that differs is the content. Apps ought to provide some actual functionality, not just blobs of content wrapped up in binary files.

The web is a beautiful thing. It’s hardware agnostic, interoperable, and flexible. Apps are not any of those things.

When do I download apps? When they add something above and beyond the web experience.

Instapaper allows for offline reading. Reeder (with the web-based Google Reader) aggregate content from my favorite sites in one place. The Weather Channel app is just easier to use than the website. Maps ties into my phone’s GPS.

Apps are great, but make sure yours has a purpose.

PS: How cool is that xkcd actually encourages hotlinking by providing you with a link to do so?

Articles linked in this post:

  1. App by xkcd.
  2. I'd like to use the web my way, thank you very much Quora by Scott Hanselman.
  3. No, I'm not going to download your stupid app by Tom Morris.