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Michelle’s commentary on books, digital publishing and intersections between fiction & reality

Mobile apps as alternatives to mobile sites


Is it worth investing the time and money to deliver a great, mobile-friendly website, or would those resources be better put towards a mobile app?

It’s an idea worth carefully considering. Right away, an app might not seem worth the trouble and logistics. But, as What’s New in Publishing points out, the benefits could easily outweigh any cons.

It’s likely that a majority of your audience is consuming your content from a phone, and a mobile site—no matter how much work to keep it mobile-friendly is exerted—could be turning them away:

Mobile readers want to get to the good stuff particularly fast, and they’re not going to hang around for much longer than a few seconds. They also want navigation and interfaces designed specifically for mobile, as opposed to being awkwardly ported from a desktop site. Things like infinite scroll, faster load speed and dedicated mobile navigation, combined with fewer distractions (such as browser tabs) make consuming content on apps a much smoother and more enjoyable experience.

Major news publishers from The Washington Post to CNN have been perfecting their apps for a long time. Though they already have a large following and subscriber base in place, that’s not to say you can’t achieve the same with your smaller magazine or publication.

A lot of it boils down to how much effort you can devote to this initiative. If it’s going to go static, it’s probably not worth your time, Web Publisher Pro points out:

If you’re willing to put in the effort to create a mobile app that serves your readers in new and innovative ways, then your online magazine will benefit from having a mobile app. If you launch a mobile app that’s stagnant, predictable, and rarely updated—or if your mobile app simply re-publishes the content readers can already find on your magazine’s website—then it’s unlikely your app will be a huge success.

Branding is another huge plus to factor in. Consumers expect personalized content whenever they’re browsing your—or a competitor’s—site. Grow a strong voice and brand with a mobile app and place yourself ahead of any competition.


An app gives your business an air of professionalism and authority. You’re no longer just another website. Your business appears to be its own media channel. As you grow, your brand can also benefit from the added social proof from your app store listing, if you appear on “top rated” or “most popular” lists, as well as by picking up positive reviews.

Image and reputation aside, there are monetization aspects to be gained from an app. Mobile ad revenue accounts for more than two times as much as its desktop counterpart—a move that’s occurred only in the last seven years.

People use their phones to shop and discover new products and insights, meaning “mobile users are now the most lucrative for publishers.”

What’s New in Publishing dives into a few other reasons a mobile app might be better for business: apps drive return traffic and retention, there are no ad-blockers in mobile apps and apps are a channel you own and control.

As companies and publishers try to get ahead of the curve on the latest digital publishing trends, one way to keep up may be by launching your own mobile app.

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