Minimum Viable Product · Lean startup

Webisite or app for (online) MVP?

Adam PMP Lean Transformation, Strategic Change & Benefit Realization Leader

October 28th, 2014

When considering an online offering, best to start with website or app?  Which platform in either?

John Anderson

October 28th, 2014

If a full web-site and a mobile app is part of your overall strategy, consider creating a responsive design site.  This will help fulfill your needs for a full desktop site as well as a mobile optimized sites with one codebase for your MVP.  

Using something like Twitter Bootstrap, you're able to design your site and include/exclude different parts of it for different form factors (desktop, mobile, handheld).  This is a great way to have continuity between desktop and mobile.  Just by adding a few classes to each element, you can easily show/hide them in the different form factors.

If you really want a true native MVP, consider something like www.Ti-Browser.com.  It allows you to quickly get a 100% native prototype up and running and is very easy to show to others via a free Preview App in the App Store.

Todd Ellermann Experienced I.T. Leader, CTO, and Creative Entrepreneur

October 28th, 2014

Forget the technical answer to this question, what is the business answer?

Are you going to charge for the app? Then iOS first.
Can you get away with a responsive mobile web version for proving out the concept? Much cheaper

Doing both in parallel on an unproven business model or product is foolish. 
Even if you build the perfect API the mobile app is still going to take some time, avoid it if you can, but on the other hand, many businesses are Mobile first these days. 

In the end, Android comes last in almost all situations.

Mobile Web has gotten so big, that you might do it before you do desktop.  
If you have a good mobile web team, and you don't depend on camera/GPS/gyro then you may want to consider a native hybrid app.  (install your app which launches an embedded web browser to your mobile web site)   

In the end you shared so little about your business, that any response you get is questionable at best. 


Zvi Epner Fourtein.com

October 28th, 2014

Even if you already know you want to build a native mobile app, I think it's always best to build it in traditional web technologies first.

You will need to be able to prototype and test quickly, and it will change a bunch. So when you really have it down in the form of a web prototype, it will be easier to develop the mobile app.

Caviat: Your app relies on mobile-specific technologies primarily, ie gyro

Tom Maiaroto Full Stack Consultant

October 28th, 2014

Like John said, going with a responsive approach is good too. You should keep that in mind regardless of a mobile app. However you still need to think about it in terms of an "API" otherwise your responsive site that contains all of the backend business logic still won't translate over to a native mobile app without re-building a lot of what you already built for the web app. Or hacking up your web app incurring more technical debt.

Matthew Tomaszewicz Director - Technology (Ai) at Capital One

October 28th, 2014

As others have pointed out, an API that can service both web and mobile is a necessity.
However, beyond that, the answer depends upon the business.

As a general rule, and given the growth and proliferation of "mobile," many recommend that many teams start mobile. That said, offerings differ and are consumed differently pending the platform and form factor.

With mobile (Native/iOS) you get, perhaps, a higher cost of initial development, but a significant barrier to entry (if you are the first mover), in the desktop icon. (Assuming it's consumer focused), unless its games, most apps tend to generate a higher ARPU on iOS--4 to 5x--over Android.

The responsive question is a tough one because display a responsive site within a native iOS environment is typically not the ideal foot forward. That said, as both a backfill and/or a byproduct of starting with a web site, a responsive approach is a no-brainer.

Depends upon the category, product and growth/funding objectives.

The answers are above are thoughtful and accurate. This is just a counterpoint.

Todd Ellermann Experienced I.T. Leader, CTO, and Creative Entrepreneur

October 29th, 2014

Thought this article might expand the conversation a bit
http://a16z.com/2014/10/28/mobile-is-eating-the-world/

If you want some more info on "hybrid"


@Maiaroto  Thanks for your insightful contribution. ;)  Your detailed critique, coupled with the vast amount of insightful information you brought to the argument was enlightening. 

Kelly McIvor Product Marketer | Mobile Strategist | Opportunity Developer

October 29th, 2014

And finally, I'll add this: Who is the customer? If your product/service is aimed at teens, like ours at coJuvo, you may want to lead with a mobile app (HTML if possible - you can go 'native' later). If you are helping retirees with financial planning then you may lead with a web-based MVP. 

Tom Maiaroto Full Stack Consultant

October 29th, 2014

Well, I don't see it so much as an argument as it is opinions and options. Really, there's probably no single answer for this. The best thing I could say is ask your users/customers what they'd want. I personally try not to do anything without validation/feedback/data. 

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

October 29th, 2014

i'd say 80% of the time a mobile working website will work for a good prototype. it's cheaper, faster to build, easier to find people to build it with. when you get to the next stage, investment or getting actual clients paying for the app, then commit to building out the software on the appropriate platform IF customers tell you the experience could be improved through this process.

the other 20% of the time is when you can't showcase your app fully without native components. that is, if native components are what make up the main idea.


Adam PMP Lean Transformation, Strategic Change & Benefit Realization Leader

October 29th, 2014

FD folks - really great feedback.  Appreciate all the perspectives on tech, customer and MVP.  Want to let you know I am studying all input. Thanks again!