Throughout the year we have tracked the how developers have made design decisions, and the tools available to small-to-medium businesses for creating websites on the mobile Web. On Tuesday we wrote about a new suite from Conduit that makes it easier than ever to create dynamic websites for native platforms and the mobile Web. Yet, despite all of Conduits tools, apps and the mobile Web are in danger of falling into the trap of cookie-cutter design.
There are almost a million apps in the wild between the major platforms, with Android and iOS making up the vast majority of them. Let’s be honest here: many of those apps are subpar and unimaginative. The mobile Web is not much better. Yet, there is hope. That is the subject of this week’s ReadWriteMobile poll.
Conduit is a powerful tool. It offers more capabilities for do-it-yourself app publishers than almost any other suite of app builders out there. Yet, when it comes down to it, the look and feel of the app or mobile website will look a lot like any other created with the consumer facing package, especially if the person is wrapping their blog with Conduit’s HTML5 solutions. WordPress or Movable Type look basically the same in mobile, no matter what themes you choose.
Cookie-cutter design was the same problem we had with FiddleFly earlier this year. It may be a simple tool for businesses to give themselves a mobile presence, but there are no distinguishing factors that distinguish one app from the next, outside of the content and the template chosen.
That is the basic problem with design decisions for non-developers: it is a template-driven world. If you really think about it, there are only so many ways a screen can be sliced in ways that make sense for content delivery. That means that there are probably between seven and 10 primary templates that users can choose.
Developers with the knowledge of native app code bases and HTML5 can avoid these types of cookie-cutter design decisions. Our Apps Of The Month columns regularly feature dynamic mobile apps that are unique in both design and function. Yet, there is a gap between the developers of the world and the mass of people, businesses and enterprises that want to create a mobile presence. With the explosion of mobile computing, that latter group now greatly outweighs the former.
So, is the mobile world threatened to be overrun with these template-driven apps that all look the same? Or can tools like Conduit help bridge the gap? Vote in the poll below and let us know what you think in the comments.