I'll be launching a new and intuitive desktop software application to in the new year. Is there any compelling data that favors web apps over desktop?

The software in creation has several competing titles yet none have an easy to moderate learning curve. There is only one web app that competes but it is very simplified. In this industry I see using this software without a net connection and relying on system resources could benefit the user but Im afraid it still might not have the impact and reach as web apps... Any insight welcome.


Asking a broad question welcomes suspect advice. It's unwise to apply generic "data" to a specific application.

Narrow the focus - who is the typical user? Under age 30? Over the age of 45? Is the application typically used in the office during work hours or mostly out in the field? Is wifi/cellular Internet access generally available or is there an expectation that connectivity won't be available?

Based on those demographic questions, what devices are your potential customers using? If it's 60%+ mobile/tablet, lean toward an app right away. If it's under 30%, consider starting web and then add a mobile optimized offering once you understand how your software is being used and how it will be best used on mobile vs a browser based offering.

Answered 9 years ago

I would start by considering how many platforms you plan to support. Not just today, but over the next 3 to 5 years as well. There is growing support for offline-first web applications, which can be a great solution with a few caveats.

Offline web applications can be designed to only rely on client side storage, with no server connection ever. They can also be designed to store data locally and then sync with a server when an internet connection becomes available. HTML5 does provide capabilities for this. If you are targeting older platforms however, you will need to reconsider this approach. Modern web apps look better than ever, however they still don't provide 100% of the capabilities that a native application will. Depending on how important this is to your users, it could be a non-issue or a complete deal breaker.

Without knowing the specifics of your situation, it is difficult to advocate for a particular approach. If you wish to discuss the specifics, I am available. Best of luck.

Answered 9 years ago

I have built many apps both desktop (i.e. client-server type) and now tons more web-based apps. Deploying changes is MUCH easier with a web app than desktop. That is an important consideration. I am not sure how many users for your app. If it is only in a single office, then you can always remote into the server for your updates. But if people are installing from all over the place, then you will have to "push" your changes to their various servers or provide a way that they can update themselves. With all the different computers, configurations, network issues, etc. you may get various questions if something "doesn't work" or doesn't install correctly. For a web application, I just have to make sure it supports the various browsers and I can deploy my changes easily. The web application can also ensure security too if you have many users from all over the world. Security is also the other important consideration. If you do things right, you should be ok there too.
Hope this helps

Answered 9 years ago

Demographics aside, one of the most compelling factor in making your decision is your available resources (assuming a web app can support the desired feature set). If you are building a desktop app you have take into consideration the fact that you will only have access to customers who's operating systems you can afford to support. Take into considerations OS updates, hardware specific issues, and software interactions. If you build a web application you only have to worry about the self contain environment of your server, and browser support. So if you have enough developers to overcome the issues associated with a desktop app then go for it.

Answered 9 years ago

Unlike desktop apps, web-based apps are not as reliant on the hardware you’re using. It also means that web-based apps offer more points of entry. Web-based apps do not require a download to use. Updates and upgrades are easier for web-based applications. This is because desktop apps need the program to be updated on a machine-by-machine basis. While automatic updates for desktop apps are making updates easier, hardware restrictions still apply.
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Answered 3 years ago

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