Many of the companies I work with drive 40% or more of their traffic and new users through mobile – for others that fraction is even greater. At a recent freemium meetup moderated by Raj Singh, Jason Mills of Expensify said this:
Mobile is our largest customer acquisition channel and ironically one of our biggest challenges is actually making mobile users aware of their online experience.
Mobile first development strategies work because (i) minimum viable products can be built and tested faster on mobile because feature sets are often smaller (ii) the distribution channels are better than the web (iii) the barriers to trying an application on a properly designed mobile application are lower than a web app. Let’s examine each.
Because of the constraints of mobile devices, apps must be single purpose and focused on a primary user flow. Examples: Instagram: take a photo -> make it beautiful with a filter -> post to the social network. Flipboard: select a content source -> flip through the news -> share the news. Expensify: buy something -> take a photo of the receipt -> file an expense report. Often, a mobile app is more appealing than a web app for this reason.
Better distribution channels: mobile app stores feature and highlight content in a directory structure, a virtual mall for browsers which is a discovery mechanism the web simply doesn’t provide today.
Integrated identity means faster sign up times. Centralized reviews and comments, which don’t exist for web applications, speed commitment decisions because they help users quickly filter applications.
In addition to all those reasons, users prefer and prioritize mobile. 25% of users access Facebook exclusively on mobile, a figure likely to increase with time.