My Notes on Josh Clark’s presentation – Mobile Apps: Native or Web Based?

It was a very interesting lunch, meeting new people and talking personally with Luke Wroblewski, who I’ve admired a great deal since I met him last year in Philadelphia. And now it was the turn of Josh Clark.

I gotta say I enjoyed his presentation in quite a special way because of his way of approaching the topic. He captured my attention entirely. I’ve been following him on Twitter for a while now, it was nice meeting him in person and listening to what he had to say up close.

I enjoyed talking to him personally and I appreciated him for answering my questions.

Here are my notes on his talk:

  • One can think about mobile platforms as cultures, and the existence of many of them creates challenges.
  • BlackBerry – 40% of global enterprise
    • Higher texting activity than any other device
    • Low browsing activity – Browsing on a BlackBerry sucks
  • iPhone – High levels of activities
    • Higher activity than other devices even though it has a lesser share of the market.
    • It brought technology to the masses.
  • Android – It’s the technology from geeks to geeks
  • Windows Mobile – Classy, urban and modern
  • There is no single culture, each platform user has different needs and goals.
  • If you don’t know what it’s like to live with a phone, how can you be an expert designing natively for it?
  • You can’t be an expert on all of them.
  • It’s a split decision on platform choice – There’s not a definite winner
  • But only 30% of phone users have apps on their phones.
  • Think small – consider SMS text apps
  • Less is often more. Or maybe just enough is more.
  • Everyone loves web
    • You’re in complete control in what comes to distribution
    • You don’t have to build separate apps for each phone
    • There’s more ubiquity in building for mobile web than for normal web.
    • On mobile you can actually use HTML5 and CSS3
  • The current culture – You think apps are for doing and web is for reference.
  • Web’s weaknesses
    • Can’t match native apps in experience possibilities or speed.
    • Not easy matching great expectations
    • Heavyweight libraries
    • Clunky graphic tools and not enough hardware
    • In the end, web bows to apps
  • Then again, web is available for everyone, unlike any native app.
  • Your website has got to look great on mobile now.
  • Native apps win in payment and findability issues.
  • Web makes it easier to share data to other users, though.
  • Battle of the back office – it’s easier and inexpensive to start building web apps, and testing comes in easier too.
  • Consider your audience – what’s the best choice considering them?
  • There’s not really a fight, it’s a business consideration.
  • The goal is the same – create a good experience for your users
  • You need to have both!
  • Still, we should keep a consistency and have the same core content across all apps.
  • There’s stuff that shouldn’t be on the desktop version either. There shouldn’t be a normal and a light version; the content should be the same.
  • A small screen doesn’t mean the user wants to do less.
  • Mobile mindsets
    • Microtasking – Means you should prioritize some content, but not necessarily strip out the rest.
    • Local – Not only about GPS, but all the other sorts of inputs you can give through your mobile. The goal is NOT to remove complexity, don’t over-simplify. There’s a different between complexity and complication.
    • Bored – Users with a long span of attention.
  • The winning approach is to think about the interfaces as a spectrum of apps that generate a single satisfactory experience.
  • There’s no desktop strategy, mobile strategy… there’s just a plain strategy.