Should you build a mobile app?

Probably not!

Why not though?

Most products should start with a mobile web experience.

The web is really great for:

  • Getting customers into your product quickly
  • Collecting early feedback
  • Iterating rapidly


If that works, your business will mature. More requests for a mobile app will come in. You'll ask yourself:

  • Would building out a mobile app make sense?
  • Would “wrapping” a mobile web experience be enough?
  • Is there a case for a big mobile bet here?

And so, one might ask:

Why would you build a mobile app?

Try out this handy checklist

Hand holding a mobile phone

Supporting Heavy Usage

People resist installing an app unless they expect to use it frequently. However, if your customers use your product multiple times a week, the UX benefits will add up.

Features that are used heavily benefit most from a full app experience.

Padlock with Face ID

Keeping Users Logged In

People hate having to periodically log in.

Installed apps help you keep users logged in indefinitely, securely. They also facilitate seamless auth flows like facial ID. This helps users get in and out of your app quickly.

Mobile phone with notification

Push Notifications

Push can be a huge part of a product’s engagement loop – if your customers want notifications.

For better or worse, push remains primarily the domain of installed mobile apps.

Apple Watch

Communicating with Hardware

Hardware integration might mean using advanced APIs that control smartphones’ advanced sensors. Sometimes that means syncing with other devices over Bluetooth or wifi.

Both are strong suits of apps.


Delightful UX

Installed mobile apps, especially native apps, have remarkable power, performance, and flexibility.

This can be a big help when crafting exceptionally nice user experiences.

Web servers

Offline Storage & Encryption

Apps make it easy to store user data, encrypted information, and large caches on device.

Mobile apps have a leg up on the web when it comes to offline experiences.

Rocketship blasting off

Making Big Bets

Building and maintaining high quality mobile apps can be relatively expensive.

Often teams validate their product on the web, then turn to mobile when they have the resources to scale the business.

Mobile phone with AR display

3D & Games

The speed and power of native apps is invaluable for 3D.

Games are a classic case, but VR, AR, and other 3D tools are also generally built as native apps.

Mobile phone with FaceTime call

Media Playback & Capture

Products that revolve around capturing, modifying, and playing back some kind of audio or video benefit a lot from installed apps’ performance and hardware strengths.

This can be due to challenges with battery drain, frame rate, or integrating with capture hardware.

Magnet attracting users

Retaining Users

A lot of websites push users to install their app. That's because they know installed app users tend to stay more engaged, and are easier to retain.

If you’ve built a product where users are activating, but you’re still battling churn, an app can be a worthy bet.

And the final verdict is...

Should you build an app?

Try the checklist and find out!