Mobile Apps: Content Vs E-commerce

My experience with the mobile apps has been mixed both as a user and as a product guy. Most of the organizations, whom apps I have used, have created the apps more as an afterthought than as a planned strategy. As a result, these apps have become more like a broken and hanging limb off their body than a part of theirs.

Usually, these apps are created thinking the target users being people who are connected with the Social brand. Now the intent is great, but the direction is flawed. The mobile apps are indeed are a part of your Social business than Social brand and hence there is a huge divergence in the way people look at it.

I personally believe that with screen size of phone getting larger every six months, by 2015 we should see a movement more towards mobile websites from apps, since they don't need to be installed and with a bigger screen size and HTML5 adoption, most of their current limitation will get away.

However, in this blog, I am dealing with one of the most contentious issues of today's times for mobile apps. Which is, should there be a difference in which e-commerce and content based mobile apps be productized? I strongly believe the answer is yes, especially after watching so many screw-ups. Below I am jotting down few pointers in a table for both of them. This is by no means a complete list or comparison but an easier way for people to read and understand the differences in complexity

Content Based mobile appE-commerce based mobile app
Primary Source of income: Ads
Secondary source of income: Content
Primary Source of income: Transactions
Secondary source of income: Advertisements / Content (if they create UGC)
It should take minimum clicks for the user to reach to her destination.
Best example is Instagram. From the time they launched first, they have reduced clicks from 3 to 2 from the time you click photo to uploading it
Don’t worry about how much clicks it takes user to reach her destination, as long as clicks can keep pushing/nudging her to transaction
The clicks could be independent of each other.
Let the user discover your content on the site after he has found what he is looking for.

Don’t tie it with the clicks.
Instead tie it with the time he would spend on your app
Clicks have to be tied to be each other. They have to be relational and relative to each other, so that they can push the primary source of income: “Transactions”
Though your business runs on content and you are very emotional about it.
But hey! think what do users come on your site for?
Not content, but specific content

Be selective in terms of showing the content.
Don’t cram everything, just because you are the king of content.

The best way to push your content would be to promote it in the descending order of page views/clicks so that you can monetize as well (It’s not a charity after all!)
Educate users: Cram a lot of content and information as against content based mobile app.

It’s a paradox, a brilliant one at that because users come to consume focused content on content based app (Instagram, Draw Something, IMDB) while on e-commerce app, they transact based on information/content they consume (textual, picture, videos, location based). Hence with more information, you are creating a better chance to convert.
Make as much content possible, scrollable on single screen instead of hiding it behind the tabs or behind “see/read more”.
Tabs and hyperlinks don’t work in app especially when the person is looking for information.
“see/read more” would work here for content here since the users are more information focussed here. However, from the usability perspective, I would still not advice this

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