I’ve been noticing a trend over the past year or so, that may point to the death of the website (and world wide web) as we know it.
Like you, dear reader, I have apps on my iPhone (and now iPad) that are holding more and more of my attention. I am visiting ‘web sites’ less and less. In fact, there are apps I use (shazaam, foursquare, evernote, tuneinradio, localmind, instagram, autostitch…) for which I have never (or very rarely ever) visited the web site. I spend more and more time on the app versions of twitter, facebook, hootsuite and the like, and less and less on their traditional web site. It’s faster, better, cleaner, and I do it on the go. And it’s not just me. There is a whole generation of 20-somethings and younger whose only real experience of the internet at all is through their apps. They judge email like we do our letter box (full of bills and spam). Web sites are not for them… hardly at all.
Apps are there, on your phone/tablet – push a button and they fire up. They are part of you, in the same way the phone is – it has your photos, calendar, email, camera… and you carry it with you. Apps’re just so easy. No loading of web sites, and they make funky use of the sensors of the device, incorporating the camera (famously with Instagram, Torch and a whole slew of augmented reality apps), geolocation, tipping (the ‘drinking beer’ one or fishing or many gaming apps), swipe, touch, flick, sound, microphone. You can’t touch web sites, or swipe them. It’s just more personal, more engaging and more real somehow. They can even work offline.
Does this mean web sites will become less relevant, and apps will take over? Yes, probably. Should businesses now develop apps for their business shopfront, and spend less time on their next web site upgrade (perhaps getting an app instead)? Maybe. I think you need to consider how you want to engage with your clients. In the same way too many 1990’s and early 2000’s websites were merely online brochures replacing the offline printed versions (many still are), you should not think of an app as a mere replacement for a web site. It’s a whole different experience and connection. 74% of iPad users take it into the bathroom with them. Now there’s a thought.
[Photo Credit: from SimpleMovieReview.com]