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Have Apps Killed/Killing Traditional Websites Especially On Mobile?

     
3:29 pm on Oct 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A couple of people have asked me to post the link where across 13 major markets 80% of mobile time is spent on Apps, you'll need to scroll half way down the page to see the graph from Comscore:

[smartinsights.com...]

Are many of us simply wasting our time chasing any regular SERPs when Joe Public isn't using it especially where mobile is concerned?
7:23 pm on Oct 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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While it is tempting to take stats like this at face-value, there is a lot of information missing, and if you want to get to grips with the whole picture you really need to dig into the sources cited. For instance, the Ofcom report cited is 174 pages long, and contains details that are not wholly consistent with Smart Insights' brief boiled-down summary.

Notable in the Ofcom report is this paragraph:

"Although many participants in the qualitative study reported a growing preference for their smartphones as their device of choice, there are certain activities they prefer not to do on a smartphone, such as watching TV or doing school or college work."

In other words, what they are doing with apps on their phones may not be looking for your product at all, and if you ditch browser-based and desktop interfaces you might be throwing away the interface that they will use when they want to find your site. You might also consider whether, if television-watchers spend more than 80% of their viewing-time watching television programmes, it is worth continuing with a TV advertisement.

There are lots of other what-if's, and what you need to focus on is who your customers are and how and where they can find you. If they are young adults looking for the nearest takeaway in a city centre, app-based seerch tools might be appropriate, but if they are corporate junior staff tasked with finding coffee-machine refills from their workplace then SERPs are still probably your best bet.

Of course, there is a growing impetus behind the desire of big corporations (including Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon) to get everyone to say "where can I buy a double bed?" to their phone and immediately produce a "kerching" from that corporation's cash machine. However, other marketing methods are not dead yet. I still get a respectable amount of new business from SERPs, but in my own market and location word-of-mouth.and repeat business do better. I discussed with a local vehicle repairer the fact that he didn't have a website at all and he said "what do I need a website for? I'm too busy already!".

Fundamentally, what each of us needs to do should address our marketing to our own market, and while apps may be the way to go for some, for most of us ditching SERPs on the strength of a few summary statistics would be unwise.
8:58 pm on Oct 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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80% of mobile time is spent on Apps

If you consider Facebook + Twitter + Instagram + Snapchat , this certainly represents most of the time users are spending in App.
9:08 pm on Oct 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There are, as has been quoted here many times before, lies, damned lies, and statistics. Statistics being the most pernicious.

That said, let me use statistics to clear away the statistics :)

40% plus of time in apps is spent in top app and 75% plus is spent in top four. Therefore one can simply shrug off most of the doom and gloom because it is largely peripheral. Another point often missed is that the two, site and app, are not really 'in competition'; rather they can be complimentary. Mobile browsers (sites) are for reach, for discovery, apps are for richer experience, for retention.

Very few new mobile visitors/customers come via apps (except in rare edge cases, exceptions). Most often they are via browser and (1) SEs or (2) back links. At which time the site needs to impress them such that they both return and recommend (and convert!). This is when the offer of an app has greatest value: quick and easy direct access plus additional enhancements/benefits aka loyalty card for regulars. The typical app drop after take up is drastic and quick because there is no qualifying as with site visitors.

Another oft missed point is that 20% plus of site traffic (generally) is embedded web views via FB's in app browser.

As always niche and audience and business model are in play, no one size fits all. That said, for many/most info and eCom sites a site is the foundation from which an app may add or to which deliver enhanced value.
11:10 am on Oct 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Have Apps Killed/Killing Traditional Websites Especially On Mobile?
Not sure what you mean by traditional.

My personal site is over 20 years old. Is that traditional? Mobile traffic keeps increasing. Traffic in general keeps increasing, but I work hard at it.

My site is secure and transitional. My ranking improved when the Google index switched to mobile. Again, I worked hard at it.
3:17 pm on Oct 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Not sure what you mean by traditional.


People using websites as we've known them since the early 90s, not an installed app on a handset/tablet.

Most people I know with regular business websites are wondering why their traffic is getting less yet their actual day to day business remains stable or is increasing. I am not referring to large household/International sites where a lot of job justification occurs.

I work in a USD Trillion industry yet only a handful of companies have even attempted making any trade app and they had very little take-up therefore I can't say that it's a trade app that has reduced traffic. It's everyone I talk to on a daily basis, in fact in some countries I know of large companies that have closed their websites completely except for a holding page, their traffic had turned to zero YET their businesses were still doing well.

Possibly it's as simple as my global industry was global way before T'Internet was conceived and, possibly, in reality all those visitors we were getting in the 90s/00s were actually Joe Public learning about our products?

Maybe the 90s hype of a company not being able to survive in the future without websites et al was purely that, hyperbole?
4:16 pm on Oct 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I break it down this way: There are 3 potential situations for a web site vs App:
1) The App and web site offer the exact same thing.
2) The web site offers something the App doesn't.
3) The App offers something the web site doesn't.

For scenario 1, why would someone want to go to the App store, download the App, install it, tap multiple times to agree to all the privacy and access messages, and have it take up space on the device?
For scenario 2, why would anyone go through the same steps, but for a lower result result?
For scenario 3, does going through all those steps justify the added value the App provides?

I've seen a lot of Apps fall into scenarios 1 & 2, as well as quite a few in scenario 3 but the limited "benefit" of the App doesn't justify (to me) installing it. YMMV.
9:23 pm on Oct 18, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar - is your company website Mobile Responsive?

Desktop traffic has been declining for several years. People are not replacing the older Desktops with new ones as much as they did years ago. Smart Phones can do most of what the average user wants nowadays. IMO soon most Desktop traffic will only come from officer workers, on their office PCs. When they're at home and on weekends, they just use their Smart Phones.

Apps are mostly mobile. They pull from the mobile traffic. The Google Index is now based on Mobile sites. Most traffic is now Mobile.

Some sites and their products just don't adjust to the Mobile mindset very well. Example... I would *not* buy a refrigerator from my Mobile phone. I would want to visit the local store and physically see it. I can get all the facts online, but somehow my brain is just wired to seeing the refrigerator in person.

Other websites & products work great on Mobile phones. My books do very well. Almost 100% of sales are from Mobile phones. I worked hard to do that. I tested & tested.

For those websites & products that don't do well on Mobile, then just a cover page might be all that's needed. Just put up your info and a Google Map for the locals.
10:27 am on Oct 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar - is your company website Mobile Responsive?


All our sites are html5 responsive, we were the first in our industry in 2013 even before the official launch. We use two different templates and all the sites work perfectly on all browsers and devices, that is not an issue.

Trying to understand why Google's ever-decreasing traffic levels persists meanwhile realworld business continues to grow, is a conundrum to everyone in our industry. One site we run is for a USD 50 million company, it averages 10 PVs a day and 80% of that is from its own country, not the USA, yet this business is thriving and coming up to its 50th anniversary.

Maybe we are expecting too much from The Net these days? Maybe no one except the specialist tradespeople such as architects and specifiers are interested in our "stuff" and Joe Public only appreciates it when visiting fantastic hotels, shopping malls and office blocks?

Obviously we're not in a dog-eat-dog ecom world of instant supply and demand, as LifeinAsia notes above:

3) The App offers something the web site doesn't.
<snip>
For scenario 3, does going through all those steps justify the added value the App provides?


That's an excellent point, I would have to hire an app developer since I have never made one whereas anything new I can create and publish within hours at no cost but my own.

Oh well, 25 years on from my first business website launch I suppose trying to fathom out why traffic's falling yet business is increasing, could be a pointless excercise?
11:18 am on Oct 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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All our sites are html5 responsive

Having a responsive page is one thing, but do not forget the usability. You don't read / browse a page, the same way on a Desktop monitor, on a laptop, on a tablet or on a smart phone. As for Google, the usability is a ranking factor. You can use "Lighthouse" from the Chrome dev tool (audit tab), it will give you all kind of information on how your pages are adapted or not for mobile devices. (for example, how long it takes before a page starts rendering, can be scrolled, if text is too small, too close, if colors are too close, etc etc...). Since 2013 lot of things have evolved about responsive designs.

One site we run is for a USD 50 million company, it averages 10 PVs

It has to be compared with other sites/businesses in the similar industry. If this site has 10 PVs and concurrent sites have millions , then yes, your site has a problem of some kind. If all sites in this industry have nearly no visitors, it simply means the target audience is no using the Internet to prospect for this kind of service/product.

And about App, this is not magical too. It's not because an App is created that it will drive traffic to a business. The App needs to be "find" by potential users, and then it needs to be installed...
12:46 pm on Oct 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You can also run a survey and ask your existing clients / professional partners if an App can be an enhancement for their relation with your business.
1:56 pm on Oct 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If all sites in this industry have nearly no visitors, it simply means the target audience is no using the Internet to prospect for this kind of service/product.


I feel that IS the issue and all of us (the global trade) are wondering why when we see our products in demand and selling well meanwhile sites that used to have 10,000+ PVs a day are now down in their hundreds and, as you rightly say, this has happened globally and gradually over several years. Obviously the great Google image theft didn't help whatsoever, I think I'm going to have a word with some of the associated industries in the trade and see if they've experienced similar because we keep seeing these people at the various fairs and construction projects around the world.

Actually, I think I'm mentally answering my own questions as I type ... Good products, competitive prices, happy customers, no need to search!
2:05 pm on Oct 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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10,000+ PVs a day are now down in their hundreds

Obviously the great Google image theft didn't help whatsoever,

If the lost of page views did not cause a loss of sales (or what ever your business is doing) , then it means that these visitors were not "real" potential clients. If people are fine just looking at an image at Google Search, it means they were not buyers.

Let's say I want to see what a Ferrari F40 looks like, I am fine just looking at photos of them at Google Search. This is a loss of traffic for the site of Ferrari, but not a loss of sale, because, even if I had visited their site, I wouldn't have ordered. (of course it's silly example).
2:51 pm on Oct 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Apps are fine for things that a user does regularly (read a major news site, book hotel rooms for business trips, check the weather). But for everything else, there's the Web.
7:14 pm on Oct 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If people are fine just looking at an image at Google Search, it means they were not buyers.


I would have to disagree with you there. We're the original producer exporting to importers in many countries. In the past trying to get those importers to try new product lines has proven difficult however with the advent of The Net it was very evident from the mid 90s onwards that those importers were trying the new products through public, as well as trade, demand and continue to do so.

The more I think about this and explain it to you the clearer it is becoming to me that it is our wholesale and retail stockists plus project specifiers' requirements that are driving our sales these days whereas it used to be ourselves.

Btw, if you didn't know I'm into specialist construction products.
7:19 pm on Oct 19, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Again, the internet has moved to Mobile. Some sites and their products just don't adjust to the Mobile mindset very well.
12:31 am on Oct 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just trust me, I spent TWO years, from 2011, before launching our first mobile site, yes, 2 years of very personal intensive research and testing, our sites are superb on all platforms otherwise I would not have released them.

Actually I did post about their development here BUT it was probably under a different monicker since I've only had this one since 2013:-)

So many posts, so many things ... and I have to disagree with this:

Again, the internet has moved to Mobile.


Only for basic consumable stuff which CAN be served-up easily, in the real world of massive architectural pdf files, well, even I struggle with 60" monitors and realistically need 3X that size ... getting pdfs that size on ANY phablet is a total waste of time.

However the good thing is that I can receive those files on mobile and move them easily to desktop.

My original question was about apps and the effect they were possibly having in my global industry ... Honestly, I don't think they are.
9:55 am on Oct 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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An App is not only to display your site, like a web browser is doing. An app has to be seen a software, and so can accomplish more things.

For example, and knowing nothing about "construction products".

Let's say someone has a project, he could use your App to enter the characteristics of his project, and the App will list all the products you are selling which are needed to accomplish this project. (this can certainly be with a simple site too, but from the moment you need a "tool" an App might come in mind first)

Or/and, a user can scan a bar code or QR code of a product, and your App will show items you are selling which can be used with this product, or alternative items you propose. This can also make it quick to place an order. You have a product, you scan it, and the App offers the possibility to order more, without having to search through the site to find the reference, and add to cart and so on ...

If the products your are selling come with instructions / manual / user notice, then instead of walking around with the papers, a worker can use his smartphone to scan your product, to have immediately access to these instructions.

etc...

That's the kind of interactivity where App can surpass Websites.

On Smartphones, excepting if you are born after year 2000, this is not convenient to type a message, and to search with something, this is where voice and image / video are becoming important. As I said scanning a bar code / QR code, taking a photo of a product (image recognition), is convenient to find / be connected to the information, instead of typing a query in a search engine.
9:03 pm on Oct 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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That's the kind of interactivity where App can surpass Websites.


Absolutely and a good example but precisely why we can't do it!

We make products for global customers yet rarely know from one order to the next what it is they are going to require. All countries have different regulations and specifications and then, oh yeah, and then when it comes to designers, specifiers and architects wanting to "create" something "special" we enter a whole new world of idiocy at times.

Sometimes we do produce "standardised" products however that amounts to a very small portion of our production demand.
3:48 pm on Oct 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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A lot of time in mobile apps is not replacing what a traditional website is doing:

1. Video apps (e.g. you tube). A replacement for TV rather than traditional websites
2. Web app replacements.
3. Desktop app replacements
4. Other device replacements/competitors/stuff that did not exist before - calculators, ebook readers, 2FA apps etc.
 

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