What're the benefits of creating a web app over a downloadable desktop app?

What're the benefits of creating a web app over a downloadable desktop app? I'm a not a developer so interested to hear the pros and cons of each choice.

  1. 3

    You're already using both desktop apps and web apps, so you can best answer the question in your title yourself.

    Instead of the technological differences, which are pretty clear, I will focus on the user's experience because this is ultimately what matters the most.


    • Not restricted to browser implementations, e.g. easier to have better performance and a consistent experience for different OSes
    • Shortcut on the desktop (also possible for web app, but much less common)
    • Integrated in their desktop experience, they don't have to pass through a browser first to get to you


    • No installation required, easier to trust for a first try
    • Consistent cross-platform experience
    • Easily syncs data across sessions
    • Offline supported with PWA

    But it's 2019, so just use Electron and you'll have the advantages of both worlds, cross-platform, with (almost) one codebase. One downside: You'll have to deal with techies (I include myself in this) complaining about resource usage, but no real client will ever care (as long as they're a non-tech audience and resource usage isn't critical).

    As a founder, you owe it to yourself to use whatever gives you the potential for the best business outcome, not what techies most care about.

    1. 1

      Thanks, I have a deeper look into Electron sounds like it could be very helpful. To speed up the process I might have to partner with a techie.

  2. 3

    Well at the end it really depends what type of app you are planning to create. If you're creating a Photoshop-like program, then it may crash as a web-app, or perhaps take time to upload/download large files over the internet each time you want to load a project.

    (With that being said, there are online Photoshop-like web apps, some are even not bad at all, but it still makes sense to have such a program run locally)

    Additionally, a "native" app can use the machines resources in the best possible way.

    On the other hand, it's much easier to develop a web based app. It would work on all devices via browsers (Phones, Tablets, Mac, PC, Linux and so on) and it could be developed at once for all types of devices.

    Also, try thinking of the last 10 apps you've used, or even the top 10 apps you're currently using, and count which of those are local and which are web-based, I'd bet most would be web based.

    1. 1

      Thanks this gives me some more insight and will help me think around the problem I'm facing.

      1. 2

        What's the problem that you're facing? Recommending a web-app vs a desktop app depends on what you want to build.

        Other things that are good about web apps:

        • Can be updated for all customers quickly (they don't need to run an update)
        • You don't need to worry much about hardware requirements (just browser requirements)
        • You can offer cloud services to your customers (integrations with other systems, more services that are hosted on your side)
        • You can still build a desktop app that connects with your online server backend, so web apps don't limit you if you want to build a thin-desktop client (thinner).
        1. 1

          Not having a programming background I wanted to better understand which direction I should head in. I'm wanting to learn/self teach coding to myself to build my own MVP for an idea I had.

          Creating a web-app does seem to be the right direction to head in for now. I know this won't happen overnight but I've got to start somewhere and I'd love to develop this skills set.

          1. 1

            SaaS is abbreviation for Software-as-a-Service, you misspelled it in your bio (sass).

            Sass could mean "Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets" which is an alternative to CSS: I don't think you meant that.

            I also see you're into e-commerce, what does your agency Contrast do?

            1. 2

              LOL I definitely meant SaaS :p

              Contrast works with eCommerce companies and helps them to generate more sales via SEO and content marketing.

              1. 1

                Your work on Contrast sounds interesting. Actually what particularly interests me in your take on e-commerce is the marketing part; incredibly important.

                My take on it is more on the technology side of things (I have a product that allows e-commerce businesses easily add a new sales channel thru chat); but I'm trying to learn more on the marketing and business side of things.

                I'm especially interested in learning more about the perspective of the consumer and the sellers so I can take that perspective as feedback to improve my product.

                What do you think?

                1. 2

                  If I understand correctly any business that we speak with once we show them an opportunity to improve their business they listen. Back this up with case studies you have credibility.

                  So in your case if you could show them how your product would make them more money I'm sure they'd speak with you. Back this up with customer success stories and you stand a better chance of getting a sale. The only potential reservations you might encounter off the top of my head would be we done have anyone to man the chat and also what makes it better then things like drift and intercom?

                  1. 1

                    any business that we speak with once we show them an opportunity to improve their business they listen
                    Nice. They trust you because you provide them actual value. This is what I want to do. I don't just want to sell a product, I want to provide a value to a business. This is why I want to carefully choose the first few I work with and make sure the product provides great value to them.

                    I think I'm building the right thing at the right time and there is demand for what I'm doing.

                    Typically, e-commerce businesses hire agencies or freelancers to go through the process of building a chat bot that sells their products.

                    I've captured this process in my solution. The initial use-case that I implemented was to have the business connect my system to their e-commerce system. My system learns about the products they sell and how to talk about it with customers (including some natural language understanding).

                    Intercom and Drift are not focused on e-commerce and automation.

                    There is more to it, would love to show you if you would be interested in taking a look.

Trending on Indie Hackers
I will promote your startup to 50K+ people 172 comments I made Session, a productivity timer that makes $5K/month in net profit, AMA! 37 comments I sold my bootstrapped sharing economy platform for RV camping for 7 figures. AMA! 16 comments #1 on Product Hunt with an open-source project 8 comments On new trends, making $130k w/ an ebook, and creating a course in 20 days: Steph Smith’s story 5 comments We got featured on Product Hunt today and would love this community's feedback! 5 comments