mobile .com VS mobile application

30 Nov 2012 - 7:29pm
1 year ago
4 replies
8810 reads
Charles Erdman
2010

Brick and mortar companies have websites. Some have adapted those websites for mobile (m.com). Some are compelled to have both a m.com and a mobile application (m.app).

It raises the question of how unique the experience should be in each of those channels. Are there agreed "norms?" Should there be overlap in features/content in each experience?

Let's make this concrete. Take a restaurant chain. They sell food. They sell atmosphere where you eat that food. Simplistically, a restaurant's digital-self can offer:

    1. show the menu
    2. help me find where I can buy the menu items
    3. purchase the food
    4. provide discounts on said food


There are others, but I'm simplifying. So here's my question... If the m.app can provide some entertainment or utility experience the m.com cannot, should other features found on the m.com be included? Should they appear in a secondary role because user's are already in the app so they would find it "awkward" to link to the m.com?

If you've had a quasi-similar experience- I'd love to hear from you. If you have a set of "filters" you apply to decide what is appropriate for each channel- I'd love to hear from you. If you have research that is applicable to my question- I'd really love to hear from you.

Comments

2 Dec 2012 - 2:24pm
chrischandler
2008

Hey Charles,

Not to be pedantic but the main questions are about user expectations and the customer experience across the touchpoints.

I think parity of functionality is important, even critical when it comes to the core offering. If you can order on the website when you're at home, you expect to be able to do that on the app -- people aren't thinking "oh, yeah, this is the app and it's different" they're thinking "what the heck, I just did this with you online."

I *believe* that users/consumers/guests will be much more forgiving of content and presentation differences -- Can you play different videos? Is there a different/better information display option on the device? There is still opportunity for confusion and frustration, but since these functions are less critical (note: I'm stipulating that they are, your 'content and presentation' may vary!!)

Then there are the class of things you can only do with a mobile device -- based on hardware or operating system. Is it integrated with social networks? With geolocation services?  Does the app do something cool when you swing the phone over your head? Augmented reality? These are the best reasons to build a seperate app in my opinion -- although the shear number of people who use apps these days makes a strong, if not totally compelling case.

Lastly, and speaking from my high horse, sites should be built responsively/adaptively from the jump these days. The bastardized m.yourname.com sites are transitional forms to be left in the dustbins of history.

-cc

 

2 Dec 2012 - 2:25pm
chrischandler
2008

Hey Charles,

Not to be pedantic but the main questions are about user expectations and the customer experience across the touchpoints.

I think parity of functionality is important, even critical when it comes to the core offering. If you can order on the website when you're at home, you expect to be able to do that on the app -- people aren't thinking "oh, yeah, this is the app and it's different" they're thinking "what the heck, I just did this with you online."

I *believe* that users/consumers/guests will be much more forgiving of content and presentation differences -- Can you play different videos? Is there a different/better information display option on the device? There is still opportunity for confusion and frustration, but since these functions are less critical (note: I'm stipulating that they are, your 'content and presentation' may vary!!)

Then there are the class of things you can only do with a mobile device -- based on hardware or operating system. Is it integrated with social networks? With geolocation services?  Does the app do something cool when you swing the phone over your head? Augmented reality? These are the best reasons to build a seperate app in my opinion -- although the shear number of people who use apps these days makes a strong, if not totally compelling case.

Lastly, and speaking from my high horse, sites should be built responsively/adaptively from the jump these days. The bastardized m.yourname.com sites are transitional forms to be left in the dustbins of history.

-cc

 

3 Dec 2012 - 11:25am
MPawson
2010

Hi Charles,

I am not sure if my filter applies to your situation since ours was for a mobile app vs our web app for our customers in the drilling side of the oil and gas industry. We designed our mobile app with a very very simple vision. "Give the customer enough information to know if their well is having an oh shit moment and they better get to a computer (use our main web app), or everything is fine enjoy your dinner with your spouse." 

In our world if a well is encountering a problem you want to be on a computer with a decent screen size to be able to launch multiple windows and take in a lot of information. Your phone is for calling the drilling rig.  Our mobile app gives you enough information to know which situation you are in. A VP of Exploration told me that our app "had given him his life back. I can be drilling a well and go to dinner with my wife and not have to be next to a computer 24 hours a day"

3 Dec 2012 - 3:23pm
hersh
2010

Hi Charles,

It really depends on how the restaurant presents the app to the customer. If app is meant to entertain customers, you can launch an app just for that. For eg: Cinplex theatres in Canada have a dedicated app for playing movie trivia inside the theatres. Their e-commerce app is separate. Similary, restaurant can offer a nutritional info app, separate from the e-commerce app or m.com. It can have all three. Starbucks on the other hand keeps it all on the same app.

How you set the expectation with customer is key. If you push the app as a 'Restaurant Inc. App' customers will expect it to have same info as the restaurant's website (be it m or desktop) and may be even expect it to perform better, with added features. I assume only loyal customers will download/use the app, so they at least expect to complete their task faster than possible on the website.

For a restaurant say the advantages of having an app could be:

1. Storing personalized info, eg: previous order history, delivery information.
2. Offline data availability for menus, location etc.
3. Features like, geo location, scan a gift card, share on facebook etc.
4. Fast access, since UI is preloaded.

Hope that helps.

Harsh

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