Websites obsolete, really? Think about it – the 1.2 billion websites are becoming outdated and out of fashion? And who is to blame? The smart phones and mobile technology? Of course; according to Damle, Aslekar and Yadavalli, (2016) 1, people are beginning to use mobile applications (apps) more than ‘traditional’ websites.
Indeed, Connie Hwong reported that data from Verto Analytics showed that there’s a correlation between the number of distinct apps that consumers use and the total amount of time they spend using their smartphone on a daily basis. That’s no real surprise.
Pappachan, Yus, Das, Mehrotra, Finin and Joshi (2015) 2 suggested that today’s internet users have an array of choices while installing apps of any kind for entertainment, utility, or education. As a result, smart phones started to replace other devices as de facto medium for online browsing, social networking, and other activities. Even more, mobile apps are replacing traditional desktop applications and websites, said Pappachan et al (2015) 2.
So, it this the end of websites? Let’s first compare websites with apps – what are their functions and where do they fit in?
Websites versus Apps
For some, there is no question that the websites are obsolete. The transition from an internet of websites to an internet of mobile apps is no longer coming — it is here, writes John Herrman recently in The New York Times.
Dan Cristo, announced (quite dramatically) in Search Engine Watch: “I’ve been preaching the death of the web in favor of native mobile apps for a while now, but many don’t see it. They can’t imagine a day when their beloved .com will go away, disregarded as a relic of the early Internet.”
But can we do without a website? Are apps making websites obsolete?
Anderson and Rainie, (2012) 3 predicted five years ago that the experience when you visit a webpage and the experience when using an app will converge, possibly to the point where there is little practical difference. They listed points for and against apps.
Points for apps:
- The convenience – of using apps as a gateway to getting what you want meets human needs.
- Apps are are easier to control and turn into commodities for sale.
- The apps approach to accessing information on the Internet is perceived as “closed,” while the traditional Web paradigm is seen as “open.”
- Apps’ ability to meet specific needs becomes a double-edged sword; they simplify life and they create “walled gardens” and a lack of serendipity.
Point against the domination of apps:
- The rapid global adoption of narrowly targeted software applications—increasingly popular because of their ease of use on mobile devices—is negatively impacting creativity, innovation, and individuality on the World Wide Web.
So, are websites obsolete?
Before you get rid of your websites and fall heads over heels for apps, read the 5 reasons Evan Rose (Business2Community) suggests keeping your websites:
- There is no SEO for mobile apps. For the moment, there is no way of getting more search results for your business through the mobile app. SEO is still restricted to websites when it comes to on-page keyword strategies.
- You cannot incorporate too many features in an app. Imagine every type of content included in your website squeezed into a mobile app. It would be a huge app which would take up a lot of storage space and it would be difficult to use.
- You still rely on website landing pages. Coming back to those people who are still browsing social media from their computers (there are a lot of them, and for certain niches they are the typical potential customers), your social media campaigns, ads and offers would not be effective if you send people to a mobile app instead of a web landing page.
- Web pages are better for blogging. Although they are very busy, people still enjoy reading a good article or blog post, even if it is longer. It is quite annoying to do that in an app, with endless scrolling on the screen.
- Maintaining and updating websites is less expensive. If you focus all your marketing, promotion, presentation and blogging efforts in a mobile app, you will have to apply frequent updates. This is not only annoying for the users, but it is also costly for your organization.
I suppose the website will never become obsolete. However, it may become a niche application. It won’t be long before we can do everything with apps that we can do now with websites. More intriguing may be an application, on a different platform, that will make apps obsolete…
1 Damle, M., Aslekar, A. and Yadavalli, V.S. 2016. Comparative Study of Online Shopping Experience With Specific Reference to Mobile Apps Based Shopping, International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 7(4):1238-1246.
2 Pappachan, P., Yus, R., Das, P.K., Mehrotra, S., Finin, T. and Joshi, A. 2015. Building a Mobile Applications Knowledge Base for the Linked Data Cloud, In MoDeST@ ISWC, 14-25.
3 Anderson, J.Q. and Rainie, L. 2012. The Web Is Dead? No. Experts expect apps and the Web to converge in the cloud; but many worry that simplicity for users will come at a price, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.