The Truth About “An app for everything”- Avoiding The Garbage in Web Design

If you search “app problems online”, you’ll get literally millions of hits. Add to that the number of people likely to have the same problems, and you’ll get some idea of the problem. Do you need this in a web design? Not unless you really want to lose all your clients. Itâ’s best to use a sort of SEO approach (best result and cross checks) to hunt down suspect apps before you even think of using them. 

The Basic Problems

The fact is that apps, which tend to run off basic software like Flash, have a virtual encyclopedia of possible issues, even if they run well.

These problems aren’t necessarily obvious:

  • Security: Some apps have been blamed for major security busts.
  • Dysfunctional apps: Not running is one of the more common problems.
  • App approvals from platforms: Apple, for example, is absolutely saturated with apps. They don’t really need more, so something called an iPod app can be a real nuisance.
  • Useless apps: Phones usually have more apps than a dog has fleas. People don’t use them. On websites, they’re clutter, and worse, they’re consumers of useful space.
  • Boring apps: There are plenty of these, and if your client is trying to be upbeat and upmarket, these things are death.
  • Outdated apps: There’s a large emerging generation of old apps which were big news for about 5 seconds a few years ago, which is a generation in apps.
  • Gaming apps: Possibly fun, and very common (to the point of overkill), and not business related.
  • “Fashionable” apps: These things are popular for about 3 seconds, and they’re deadwood on sites from about then onwards, making the site look dated.

The Fixes

To get serious about an app for everything the only working solution is quality control at ground zero.

Ask yourself:

  • Is the app useful? Is there any conceivable purpose in having the app onsite? If it’s a business function, not just a gimmick, yes. Otherwise, be careful.
  • Are there any issues with the app? If so, look for the known problems. If you’ve got a client who wants a farming game with a built in stock market lookup app on their financial advisory site, fine, but if it’s a tricky app, running off a browser, it’s also a potential pest in design terms. Do the site first, keep the design safe, then see if you can get the app working properly.
  • What about security? In the very unfunny (and possibly expensive) category, this can be a major issue for the client. This is worse than garbage, it’s actually dangerous. It’s advisable to do the full Search Engine Optimisation check on apps by name, to find any possible issues.

There are about as many problems with apps as there are with cars. Some run, some don’t. Some are good, some are real garbage. As a designer, you’re the lucky soul carrying the load. The golden rule is “play safe”.