What is an app?

What is an app?


First in our EC Methodology Series... what is an app? Let's do a rough breakdown of the different things people mean when they talk about building an "app."

Raphaël: Welcome to the
EC methodology series.

In these articles and podcasts,
we'll cover questions that come up

when building a digital product.

This series is intended for folks who have
an idea for an app and want to learn more

about what it takes to actually build one.

So we'll start by clarifying some
of the terminology around apps.

It's an important question to ask.

A, mobile app, a web app, a website?

What's the difference?

And who is this for?

It might seem like a silly question,
but people use the word "app" to

mean a lot of different things.

It might be a mobile app, a web app,
a desktop app, or even an internal

automation process to name a few.

Here's a few considerations for each.

Mobile apps.

Some things you might want to
consider when building a mobile

app include whether it needs to be
compatible with iOS and Android.

Depending on the type of app, if you
want to run on both that might double

your development time and costs.

With simpler apps, you can use a
cross-platform framework, which will

reduce your development times and costs.

Most mobile apps will require setting up
a backend system as well to host things

like user data, but not all of them.

You can build apps that only store data
on the phone or provide functionality

that doesn't require storing anything.

Web apps.

A web app is similar to some mobile
apps and that they usually require

a backend system of some sort.

But they aren't device specific, which
makes them easier to push to more

people faster and more cost-effectively.

They're usually created when you don't
need specific functionality from a

device, like some of the hardware
functionality, GPS, gyroscopes.

That sort of thing.

Though web browsers are providing
more and more access to hardware

functionality these days.


So the term website.

Can be used to describe
some web apps as well.

For example, the Facebook
website is an app.

It allows you to interact
with it in complex ways.

In our case, we reserve the term
website for sites that aren't

complicated in a functionality sense.

They're either static presentational
sites or they have common functionality

like e-commerce or commenting that
can be built with off the shelf tools.

For e-commerce that might mean using a
platform like Shopify or big commerce to

name a few for content that might include
platforms like Squarespace, WordPress.

Wix or others.

Desktop apps.

A desktop app is operating
system specific, often uses

faster, more efficient code.

Has filed system access and
typically tries to use your

hardware as efficiently as possible.

Desktop apps are suited for more
computationally intensive work.

Uh, think something like Photoshop
or 3d software where you generally

want to be able to access a graphics
card or lower level systems that

allow your app to run a lot faster.


Automation is a process where code
is written to carry out a specific

task without human interaction.

Automations usually don't
have a user interface.

They're about moving data, creating
alerts, that sort of thing . It

doesn't have to be complicated.

You can often use tools like Zapier
or Make or plenty of other ones that

have come out in the last few years.

An example of a problem that
might be solved by an automation

is moving Salesforce data
automatically into BigQuery.

So you can better work with
it in Google data studio.

If you've built an app.

We'd love to know what you've built,
why you built it, how you built

it, what the process was, how you
decided what you like to build.

We'd really like to get your feedback on
our process , and we always want to learn.

So follow us if you want to
keep up with this series, we

have a lot to share with you.

And if you think that we could work
together, we'd love to partner with

you and see how we can help you
move forward with your next project.

Just shoot us an email

We'll include that in the show notes
if you're worried about the spelling.

See you next time.

Creators and Guests

Raphaël Titsworth-Morin
Raphaël Titsworth-Morin
Raphaël is one of the co-founders of Éphémère Creative. He is a developer, designer, and digital jack of all trades.