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As was shown in Approaches to mobile app development even if your product is designed to be used heavily on mobile, a web first approach has significant advantages.
- Faster and Cheaper to Develop - No approvals required, easier to code and cheaper to hire developers.
- Platform Agnostic - You don't need to develop native applications for each of the platforms.
Pro Mature Distribution Channels
From Vibhu Norby
Distribution is much harder on mobile than web and we see a lot of mobile first startups getting stuck in the transition from successful product to large user base. Strong product market fit is no longer enough to get to a large user base. You need to master the "download app, use app, keep using app, put it on your home screen" flow and that is a hard one to master
There are other significant advantages of the web environment:
- Easier to close viral loops - A user can click an email and immediately be using your app with you without the churn of finding, downloading and installing your app.
- Superior onboarding - Typing is easier. Sign-up with OAuth is faster. Tab to the next field. Provide marketing alongside sign-up as encouragement. Auto-fill information is a feature in every browser. The open eco-system of the web and 20 years of innovation has solved many of the most difficult parts of onboarding.
Pro Rapid Testing
It is far easier to rapidly test a product to both fix bugs and respond to user feedback on the web. With a mobile app you have to wait for the App Store to approve the changes and then hope your users will update the app before getting frustrated and churning.
You can also take advantage of a multitude of analytics and split testing tools on the web. Services like Optimizely make it easy to test multiple versions of your site to improve conversions.
This is important through the lifecycle of a product, but especially so when the UI/UX is immature at the very beginning.