Prioritizing: more features for a web version or mobile app first?


We are in a pretty early stage. We have a beta of our web app ready, some user testing finished, and we're just about to do a launch. At this point we have two options:

  1. Add more features to the web app. It is just barebones now and definitely could use a couple of features. It's functional, but new features would make it more engaging.
  2. Release the mobile iOS app. Since we are in the social video market, mobile is good (and important), but it will mean that the mobile app will also lack certain features. We can still launch the mobile app to increase reach/awareness, but it will postpone adding new features to web app and the service in general.

So, which option should we go with? Less functionality in the web app plus mobile app launch, or more functionality in the web app and mobile launch later?

Web Product Launch Mobile

asked Jan 17 '13 at 08:23
123 points
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3 Answers


Option 1 - better user experience with the web app now, mobile app later. Here's why:

  • Be awesome. Would you rather have one kickass product or multiple mediocre products? Doing one thing really well is much better than being meh at multiple things. It's hard to compete in a sea of sameness (not sure that's a word), but if you can build something awesome then you've got a fighting chance. Kathy Sierra gave a great talk at Business of Software 2012 on building the minimum badass user that is somewhat related to this. Here's a summary I wrote of her presentation.
  • Mistakes. You're going to make bad decisions and mistakes. It's inevitable, we all do. If you develop one product first, then you can use those lessons learned to avoid the same mistakes when developing your second product (the iOS app). If you're developing both products at the same time, odds are you may make the same mistake twice and then have to fix it twice. For example, you may assume that feature X is really important and build it into both the web app and the mobile app. Then learn from your customers that it's really not important at all. You've wasted twice as much time building something that's not useful, and may have to waste more time getting rid of that feature and replacing it with something else.
  • Focus. Staying focused is important, because among other things it helps your productivity. Developing an iOS app is very different from developing a web app. It involves different skill sets and a different midset. If you are switching back and forth between the two you are going to lose focus, which is going to hurt both products.
answered Jan 17 '13 at 11:49
Zuly Gonzalez
9,194 points
  • You nailed the answer. Great! – Evik James 10 years ago
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Validate your business / value proposition with the website first. Make it responsive so it supports mobile. Once you get traction, poll your users & find out if they want a native mobile app. If so, then commit to doing a native app.

Rationale: it is very difficult to make changes to the app (submit / approve / etc) to test things - and people quickly get update fatigue. App stores are chock full of crappy apps - so its extremely difficult to get visibility / presence on there. And with mobile apps, many believe you only get one shot to make a great impression.

Also to consider: if you are charging for the service, expect to get the runaround from apple who will want their 30% cut of the subscription.

answered Jan 17 '13 at 13:56
Jim Galley
9,952 points


Businessman thinks marginally. With same input, he always pick the choice with more output.

For your app, though there is no measurement of profit at this time, you can review your business goals for this decision.

What is your most critical business goal at this stage? Gaining capital, acquiring users or establishing branding? Which choice could help you to achieve this goal quickly with SAME effort?

Though it's your job to answer the above questions, I personally prefer the web app because it's near done. Say with 100 hours work you can perfect the web app to some extent, but end with a half-baked mobile app.

answered Jan 17 '13 at 10:55
Billy Chan
1,179 points

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