Mobile development · Social commerce

Does it make sense to build a web mobile mvp for an intended native app for early testing?


March 16th, 2016

I'm in the process of developing the mvp of a social commerce mobile application and am stuck between building it as a native app (which will cost more and take more time) and a web mobile app (which is cheaper and can be out for testing considerably sooner). I'm not a a developer but have a very solid idea of what the application will look like and have been testing my target audience over the past few months. I'm just not sure if it makes sense to develop the mvp as a web mobile app to test traction if the application in ultimately intended to be a native application.

Bruce Fryer Lean Startup Product Management / Strategy / Marketing with a Flair for Innovation

March 16th, 2016

I would suggest you personally build a wireframe or high fidelity mockup in something like
Use that to reach a wider audience and validate your concept.

Perhaps the next step would be using a platform such as  Have a developer write once in Javascript and you can deploy on a website, iOS and Android with the same code.
Then test again to make sure you are getting traction.

The best apps are native and that would be your final solution once you have the traction.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

March 16th, 2016

Most often, people build mobile web apps because that's their skillset. If you don't have the development skills and will hire someone to implement, it's not clear that building a mobile web app is faster than native. In many cases it's the opposite.

Could get you get by with a responsive website? That should generally be easier and give you universal device coverage.

Otherwise, my anecdotal experience is that building a native app for an MVP almost always makes more sense.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

March 16th, 2016

I would hazard a guess and say 100 of the top 100 app/play store apps are native. 

There are classes of apps where mobile app frameworks are quite productive, but as UI complexity increases it becomes more and more difficult to implement that way.

Which is faster is completely dependent on MVP requirements. And there are all sorts of crazy possibilities (look at Chupamobile for fully-functioning apps that you can often hack up pretty quickly). I wouldn't make a decision until you find a competent developer who has deep expertise in both types of technology and review your requirements and roadmap with them. Not possible at this level.

George Lambert Interim CTO - CTO's for Hire

March 16th, 2016

Take a look at cordova and react native as alternatives to fully native development.  I will not do any more completely native projects for mobile because of these technologies. 

Both allow for the leverage of Javascript for UI with execution speed rivaling native with cross platform reuse. 

Have a look at this

Joe Walling CTO, software developer, software architect

March 17th, 2016

As Bruce said, I would start with wireframes/markups to be sure that it is what your customer wants. This is the quickest, most affordable way to get some visuals in front of prospective clients to get feedback. 

The bottom line is that this is not a simple decision and as most other things, the specifics are what determine which is best for your situation. Don't let anyone tell you which is best without them first understanding all the specifics of your project. Having said that, I will include a few things to think about and include a little of my opinion based on what I have experienced running a software development business that does this type of work.

When you do the development for the MVP you have to answer some questions before deciding on the technology. Is the goal to have a native app, or is the goal to provide certain functionality? If you decide that the latter is the goal, does the app have any functionality that requires it to be a native app? These days, there are very few things you can do in a native app that you can't do with a web app.

Will your app be purely a native phone app or will it also have a web component? If so, this favors starting with a responsive web app.

Will there be a central database or service involved? If it will be connected to a central database or web service, this favors the responsive web app. Otherwise, this item is neutral as far as which way to go.

Will being in the app stores give you a marketing advantage or do you expect most of your clients to find your app through other channels? The advantage here goes to the native app since the app stores don't like websites veiled as apps.

What platforms do you want to support? Android, IOS? What will you do with those that have a Windows phone or some other option? Do you ignore them because they are a small percentage or do you provide a responsive web app? How will your app look on a tablet?

If you want the widest reach, a responsive web app will be needed anyway. If you are only targeting a single phone, then a native app may be the answer. As far as cost, my experience as a developer has been that I will release a responsive web app for less money than a single native phone app. Now multiply the native app cost by the number of platforms you want to reach and you will quickly see why most of my clients start with a responsive web app before going native. Only a small portion of them ever get to the point that they decide to go with a native app after having a responsive web app. By doing this, they saved a fair amount of money.

If your app requires functionality that can only be delivered with a native app, then the question is easily answered...go native. However, in most other cases, I would suggest the responsive web app as your best bet as far as reach and cost. Then if the application is making money, you can afford to build the native app.

If you would like to discuss this with more specifics, feel free to reach out to me on FD or LI.

Good luck on your endeavor.

Raj Dhonota

March 18th, 2016

If you are only testing a concept (rather than trying to get traction) use a wireframing app like invision.  Validate the idea and then look at what will make your venture a success.  Happy to have a chat with yo if you think it would help.

Peter Jordan Revenue hacker for startups - journey to the $1 of revenue

March 21st, 2016

It makes sense to build a native app so users can provide detailed feedback that will make your social commercial mobile application very successful.

Barry Folsom Visionary Strategist, Strategic Marketing and Operational Executive

March 23rd, 2016

To add to Peter's answer...this re-enforces your end target is Minimum VALUABLE Product and NOT minimum viable product.  The former is end user focus and the later is techie focus.  As Peter points you - you must be end user focused!!!