Today it’s popular just to have apps. Take the two prime examples of Tinder and Uber, they both only have apps. There is no web interface, and you can neither get a date or a ride online.
Why is that?
It’s probably because they want to have a GPS active when you use it. Tinder relies on knowing its users location to find dating matches close by, just as Uber relies on finding rides near your current location.
That does not mean you should not do a web app. In A LOT of cases, it makes sense to have a web app in addition to your smartphone app.
This is both the case for business to business startups, as much as it’s relevant for business to consumer startups.
Very often, a web interface makes sense.
How much does a web app cost when you already have an iOS and Android app?
Assuming you already have an existing iOS and Android app, chances are you are building on top of an API.
An API is an interface multiple programs can use. That means that both of your apps share the same logic, so you don’t have to copy code (which takes a lot of time and is error prone).
Obviously you still have to make the frontend, such as how the app should look and what views you need, but the backend is hopefully outsourced to some kind of API.
IF that is the case, building a web app is actually extremely simple.
While it takes quite a lot of time to make an Android app and an iOS app, a web app is quite simple.
When you make an HTML app, you have a lot of open source code available. You can use a framework called Bootstrap, which makes it extremely simple to make responsive websites.
If you’re building a simple app on top of an API, it doesn’t take a lot of extra hours to make a simple app.domain.com web app, and then let users use the app and functionality online.
So how much does it cost?
It really depends on how complex your existing app is. I’ve seen examples down to 500 USD for very simple apps, but for 5000 USD you can come A LONG way – even for complex apps. The truth is: if you already have an API, doing the frontend is not a very big task.
Why build a web app in addition to native apps?
The reason is simple: more usage.
If I visit your branded website at domain.com, I want to try your app right away.
While I could open my smartphone and download your app, it’s simply easier to click a “try now” button on your website.
By doing that, you get more users.
In addition, by allowing desktop users, you can do some things more productive.
A classic example is the CRM (customer relationship management system) I use. They have a great web app, where I can manage everything. This is where I am productive.
However, they also have an Android app I can use when I am out in the field. When I just had a meeting, I can add notes, find contacts and even add small tasks for myself.
So a web app gives more and better usage, and it’s quite cheap to add it.
So should you add it? If it makes sense for your app, then yes. But keep in mind apps such as Tinder and Uber didn’t do it, while an app like Airbnb did it, because it makes sense to have both in a business like that.