Google's Indexing Apps — Do You Need One Now?
Do you really need an App for that? Why "Yes" isn't always the RIGHT answer!
Do You Need an App for That?
You might be surprised by the answer. It seems to be that lately, the answer is always, "Yes." At Entrepreneur, for example, Maria Seidman, CEO and Co-Founder of Yapp, provides a helpful quiz to let you know if you need an app.
If only to look good on mobile, having an app, and making sure you use deep linking (and a few other things) is often a very smart choice.
There are a few things that are changing to support this view (which I agree is controversial).
First, Google has opened up the field for indexing apps recently making this option accessible to many.
Second, moving toward having a single URL for all your web properties streamlines search, offering Google (or, I suppose, Bing and Yahoo) easy access to your content.
Third, especially if you implement schema.org markup, you are making Google happy. And honestly, it's always a good idea to make Google happy.
Use Cases for Going Native
Paul Boag, writing over on Site Point, makes a case for when you may not need an app. Part of his reasoning is that it is just so darn hard to be found in the app stores. Fair enough. But with deep linking and the ability to be indexed by Google, that argument falls flat. He also makes a comparison between behaviour and content, that, as a content strategist, I find superficial.
Sorry, but all content worth its salt is at least attempting to get you to do something (elicit a behaviour). So that is a moot comparison.
Finally, the cost. There are workable solutions these days to the cost factor, which, I agree, can be excessive.
A good example of an app that fits that criteria is the Pemberton Valley Lodge app. It's simple, straightforward, and adds to the visitor experience of the Lodge. You can find dining choices in the area, view the hotel, make reservations, and have an experience of the site that flows well through all the properties. In other words, and this is important to any design framework, the experience you have at the lodge, on the desktop site, on your phone or tablet, and in this app are similar. You understand intuitively that you are at the Pemberton Valley Lodge.
What Not to Do (IMHO)
Obviously, there are lots of good choices you can make. There are no strict right or wrong answers, and aside from wasting a bit of money, the only wrong choice you can make is to create an app that provides a poor user experience.
If you have not yet nailed down a good user experience for your guests throughout your properties, both offline and online, then step back, get your story straight :) know your audience, tighten up your performance, and then, only then, step into the arena of app development.
Short but Sweet
With Google opening up indexing for apps to just about everyone, it makes sense to pursue this avenue for your brand. You may decide that you are not ready to devote the time and money to it yet, but at the very least, it is time to give app development serious consideration.
Remember when you thought you'd be okay with just your desktop version of your website?
Do you? Remember what happened then?
Be prepared this time for when it will be essential to have an app, and get your ducks in a row.
I'll admit that I can actually see both sides of the app/no app argument. I'd love to hear what you think. Is it time to make an app for every brand?