Consumers Prefer User Experience of Apps Over Mobile Websites

Companies often wonder if they should focus their resources into a mobile website or a web app. And there are strong arguments for both sides of this discussion.

On the one hand, it often seems easier to develop a mobile version of the website instead of creating a separate app and to incorporate responsive design into the project in an attempt to provide a cost-effective solution that balances project costs with user experience.

And depending on the nature of the website, application, product or service, this may be an effective solution. But there are many considerations in this mix, including development costs, time to market, core user tasks, and so forth.

A recent report from Compuware, is an interesting addition to the discussion because it provides data for something we have informally observed for some time – consumers generally favor the user experience of apps vs mobile websites.

According to their data, the preference is strong – 85% of consumers favor apps over mobile websites.

Benefits of Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites

Graph Benefits of Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites1 Consumers Prefer User Experience of Apps Over Mobile Websites

The high level take away for user experience is that apps are seen as more convenient (55%), Faster (48%), easier to browse (40%) and a Better User Experience when compared to mobile websites.


Performance and Launch/Load Time Expectations:

Users have high expectations for mobile apps and expect them to load quickly.

  • 42% stated they expect them to load quicker than  mobile website.
  • 36% said they expected apps to load at the same speed as websites.

Combining this two percentages,  78% of users expect mobile apps to be as fast as, or faster, than the mobile website.

Here’s some more granular data for how quickly the survey respondents thought Mobile apps should load/launch.


User’s Expectations for Mobile App Launch Times

Graph Mobile Launch Times2 Consumers Prefer User Experience of Apps Over Mobile Websites

As the survey data shows, users have high expectations. If you’re developing a mobile app, it is critical that it load quickly, or users will become frustrated and may not continue to use it, just based on perceptions that it is loading too slowly.

Users also had  User Experience problems that caused them frustration.

What are the main User Experience Problems and Frustrations with Mobile Apps?

Overall, the majority of survey respondents (56%) indicated they experienced a problem with a mobile app in the last six months.

The most common problems can be rolled up into two main buckets:

  • App Freezing or crashing (62%)
  • App Launch problems:
    • Being slow to launch (47%)
    • Failing to launch (40%)

Graph User Frustrations Consumers Prefer User Experience of Apps Over Mobile Websites

Users Have Low Frustration Tolerance for Apps

As everyone who has spent time observing users knows all to well, low frustration tolerance is a major problem for user experience. This may be an even more significant issue for user experience of apps.

According to the data:

  • 79% of respondents indicated they would retry a mobile app only once or twice if it failed to work the first time
  • 16% would give it more than two attempts.

Graph Low Frustration Tolerance1 Consumers Prefer User Experience of Apps Over Mobile Websites

Data Source for this article: Compuware’s report data is from a  survey of 3,534 smartphone users in the US, UK, France, Germany, India and Japan.

In Summary

The conclusion here is clear – if users have a poor mobile experience in their first or second encounter with an app, they are unlikely to continue using it.

This survey data fits well with my own personal experience, as well as my observations of users.

What do you think about this data? Please leave a comment below.