Comparing the user experience between mobile websites to native applications can often seem a bit one sided. And for many reasons native applications have a head start. They have more horse power to draw from, they don’t have to compete with the current navigation paradigms of the shell they reside in, unlike the web browser for the mobile web. And most importantly they get to easily tailor their UX to the specific platform they choose.
So why do we seem to give a pass to the mobile web when it comes to the user experience? Is making a good experience difficult on the web? sure. Is it impossible? absolutely not. And yet when I go to navigate a website that has supposedly put in “mobile support” the navigation menu is often just a “display:block , display: none” toggle of desktop navigation just stacked vertically. When I scroll many of those sites reading an article and want to navigate to a separate page I have to scroll back to the top because the menu button isn’t position: fixed.
Am I being a bit too demanding? perhaps. I know that many of the experiences I complain about are the result of a developer implementing a framework that attempts to handle the mobile experience for them and has to resort to the lowest common denominator to ensure it works on an Android phone from 2008.
All I am saying is that I hope more of us can take the time to really examine what we consider to be the truly great user experiences in native apps and do our best to replicate, or better yet, one-up those experiences on our websites.