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You don’t need the WordPress app to manage your site

Apps used to be the only way to offer a great mobile user experience but in 2020 many websites work just as well on mobile.

It’s been quite a contentious week, with big names such as Fortnite and WordPress clashing with app store giants on iOS and Android. Fortnite has been removed following a heated disagreement of terms, and the free WordPress app has now been forced into monetization to remain in the iOS app store.

Apple and Google remove Fortnite from their app stores—Here’s the impact
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/14/apple-and-google-remove-fortnite-from-their-app-stores-whats-next.html

I can understand how Epic’s direct breach of terms with the respective app stores would lead to removal – the contention of 30% store fees is a separate conversation. How Apple has bullied WordPress is a totally different story – greed and nothing but that.

The free WordPress app allows users to manage their WordPress powered sites through a mobile device. The WordPress.com service offers a range of plans ranging from free to paid tiers for its blogging services, but purchase and management or these premium plans and domains aren’t available in the app, nor are they necessary for regular use. After all, the primary focus of the app is to create and manage site content.

An app with no purchases turns no profits

Now, a free app with no purchases is good for the users, but not for the stores – 0 sales equals $0 profits. Apple realizes this and is now forcing Automattic, WordPress’ parent company, to provide in-app purchases in the iOS version. Automattic has already agreed to comply by offering domain sales. Domain prices are already heavily standardized with low margins due to competition. It’s silly to think that Automattic will eat 30% of domain acquisition transactions made through the app, and equally silly to expect a significant population to make domain purchases at prices raised to accommodate the store fee when they can simply go to WordPress.com and make the same purchase there without requiring an app store.

Update: Apple has reconsidered their stance on this

I offer a new angle – to minimize being at the mercy of a volatile world of apps and app stores, why not use the website version of your service? Specifically, consider trying WordPress.com instead of the WordPress app for managing your site.

So do you really need that app?

In a nutshell, no. The WordPress.com website has a fantastic mobile experience and can do even more than the app – after all it is the full website, designed to offer a good user experience on both desktop and mobile devices.

The website scene has improved in leaps and bounds over the past decade and many websites offer an excellent mobile experience now. In fact, there is even a new technology called Progressive Web App supported by most browsers that allows a website to be installed and behave like an app while still being a website. I personally prefer using websites over apps when possible and here are a few reasons why:

  • The website is always up to date.
  • The website runs in a browser and by default has limited system access.
  • The website runs in a browser and doesn’t have any additional iOS/Android code injected.
  • The website is owned by its respective company and doesn’t have to pander to sudden whims or policy changes as dictated by an app store.

WordPress.com vs WordPress app

Using a Blackberry KEYone with Android 8.1 and Chrome 84, I’ve done a comparison of the major points of interest in both the WordPress.com website and WordPress app.

Author’s note
This isn’t a benchmarked claim but my opinion. My overall impression was that the website experience was slightly more polished and faster at responding.

Dashboard and Menu

WordPress.com

WordPress app

Drafts and Editor

WordPress.com

WordPress app

Account and Notifications

WordPress.com

WordPress app

The Verdict

I found both the app and website comparable for managing content and seeing my site stats.

The WordPress.com editor experience was very close to that of the WordPress Admin editor. This makes sense, as both should use the same technology and code. The WordPress app experience was slightly varied but comparable to that of the website.

As mentioned above, the website is more capable as more options, including plan and domain purchases and management, are available on the website platform while currently unavailable within the app (for Android).

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