Confidence of the Mobile Web

There seems to be a seeping Napoleon Complex among mobile web devs, it’s almost like they don’t want me to use their web app. I’m sure a lot of developer effort went into building these comfortable, mobile-friendly alternatives to the full desktop experience, so why ruin it by putting up speed bumps between me and the content? (I’ve put example of this below the text.)

If I’m using your mobile web app, it’s because:

  1. I’m not on my own phone, and I’m using a friends’ phone
  2. I tapped on a link in an app
  3. I don’t want to download your app and have it take up a spot on my phone
  4. I didn’t know you had an app and I went to your website by default

The first three use-cases imply that I don’t have an interest in your native app, and the last use-case doesn’t justify trampling on the other three. A simple banner would do. Even better, wait until a user takes an action that’s only available on the native app (like uploading a photo), and then prompt them to download the native app. All around, I see examples of this:

As an alternative, I really like what Instagram does: A simple link that takes you to the App Store. Simple, effective, and unobtrusive.