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Do You Need An App For That?

By Matt Mixon

Let's take a moment and imagine that you are a fledgling, scrappy startup that hopes to one day revolutionize the hiring world. Close your eyes and picture it. Since you are still reading this, I assume that you are A. cheating, B. realizing that it's not conducive to reading an article, C. waking up from a power nap. Either way, welcome back. To paint a fuller picture, realize that it’s very early days and there are only two of you. And only one of you knows how to code. You realize that you need to reach lots of folks across a myriad of devices and platforms. But to do this, you need to navigate the maze of phones, tablets, desktops, laptops, netbooks (I think these are still a thing), phablets (typing the word makes my eye twitch), etc. along with their corresponding walled gardens of app stores, approval processes and more. Oh yeah, and don’t forget that these apps are all written in different programming languages with different interfaces and capabilities.

There is another way though. One that comes pre-installed on every device that you might want to target. The venerable web browser. You get a common language to build things in, a set of standards for how things work on devices and a layout designed to scale up and down based on the size of the display. Why wouldn't you go this route?

Somewhere along the way the browser fell out of fashion as companies joined the land rush to stake their claim in the various apps stores. But upon closer examination, the logic doesn't hold up. Unless your app needs to directly access a piece of the devices hardware, there isn't a really compelling reason to have an app. These days you can retrieve a persons location via the browser. You can place items on a devices home screen. You can even send push notifications now. And you can do it all with one application written once and deployed instantly to everyone. And the user can access your app from anywhere without having to install a thing.

For Yonder, it was a no-brainer. This was the most cost-effective way for us to reach the largest platform as possible with the least amount of effort. And so far, we haven't looked back. We also think it makes pretty good sense for our users as well. Instant access is always at your fingertips and you always have the most up-to-date version. You also don't have to install anything, so you free up space on your device of choice for more cat pictures. Here, have one now.

You're welcome.

What's amazing is the number of companies that have apps that are nothing more than repackaged versions of their websites that you have to search out and install. For example, go check out the Wal-Mart app. Then check out the Wal-Mart website. If you add the website to your home screen, even the icon is the same!

Will Yonder ever have a mobile app? Maybe. But we would have to have a pretty compelling motivation to do it. And so far I’m really pulling for the open web to once again return to being the dominant platform of choice. Both for the convenience and for the freedom from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Blackberry (snicker) and others to control when and how we package and access our applications.

In conclusion, I'll leave the obligatory XKCD comic here: