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We have an iPhone app that is our main focus. We have an informational website (3 pages). And we just created a mobile web version of the iPhone app for Android and other smartphone users. Our debate has been how to handle when a user browses to the home page. Should we redirect straight to the mobile app so they can use the app, or leave them on the home page and present an option to switch to the mobile version. The home page has links to the App Store to download the iPhone app, link to the mobile version, and also information about the app and contact.

My question is should we present the option to switch to the mobile app or automatically redirect them? What's the most favorable practice?

(I've looked at other questions on here and only found questions asking about mobile version of the website, which I figured this was different since it's 2 different purposes)

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By mobile app, do you mean the mobile version of your site? –  JohnGB Mar 28 '13 at 9:42
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I mean web version of the iPhone app. It mirrors most of the functionality so that non iPhone users can still use our app until we have native versions. The website itself is very basic and is only information, however it was built with responsive design so it's mobile friendly. –  stephen Mar 28 '13 at 10:16
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4 Answers

Automatic Redirection is only suitable when user wants a site or page which has been permanently moved to another domain or url. If you put Redirection from homepage to your Mobile App Store, user would think that they probably mistypes the URL which made them end up at a "wrong" page.

If you don't have anything else other than a link to download the app, even then can have a lot on the homepage. You can educate your visitors about your app, some of the prominent features and some screenshots. Have a look at this example which also have just one download link and rest of the links are to highlight various aspects of the application.

http://infinitapps.com/instagallery/

Concluding: Don't redirect from your homepage to App store as this can confuse the user and you also loose lots of business/marketing/support opportunities by doing that.

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Thanks for your feedback but we're not wanting to link to the App Store. We created a web app (very similar version of the iPhone app, just in a web version so non iPhone users can use the app too). Just wondering if it's okay to redirect to this page from the home page. –  stephen Mar 28 '13 at 6:02
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If you have a version of your website designed for mobile, you should redirect mobile devices to that version. You should not redirect to the mobile app however (meaning an app store), as you are then taking someone away from their chosen destination without their input.

It's a good assumption that someone on a mobile device will want to see the content formatted in a way that works best on that device, just like you can assume that someone on a pc will not want to see the mobile version. However, you should offer an option (usually in the footer) to change to the desktop version of the site.

This is exactly what Wikipedia does, and it works very well.

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Many major sites display a modal window asking to download their native app. While I don't think this is the best UX practice, offering users a link of some sort to checkout the native app would be a plus. –  TotemFlare Apr 5 '13 at 6:25
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It comes down to what the URL is and what the user is expecting when they arrive on the page. Lets develop an example, and say your app is called ActionWidget.

We'll asume ActionWidget has the following properties:

  1. An informational desktop site that is responsive (actionwidget.com)
  2. A web based application (actionwidget.com/app/actionwidget)
  3. A dedicated mobile application (ActionWidget iOS/ActionWidget Android)

As a user, if I type in actionwidget.com, my expectation is to see information about ActionWidget, along with the ability to use it if available online. Make a prominent link for me to get to the app, but don't force me there. I may not be ready to interact with it yet, or I may be looking for a link to the dedicated mobile application. (Because my friend said, "hey, you gotta try out ActionWidget! It's the bee's knees! The cat's pajamas! The snaaaaaaiiiill's ankles!" and I just typed in ActionWidget.com to see what all the kerfuffle is.)

You don't exactly know what I want to do when I come to ActionWidget.com, so don't decide for me. If I want to use the web app, and it's useful, then I'll make a bookmark in my browser (actionwidget.com/app/actionwidget).

There is an exception however. If ActionWidget has a user log-in, then I might want to have you remember me and automatically log me in on repeat visits. When I sign-in, add a checkbox that says "automatically log me in to actionwidget.com" and then you'll have my blessing to shortcut me to where I want to go. (The Netflix desktop site is a good example of this in practice, but caution on the mobile front. They have a mobile optimized log in screen that then dumps you to the full desktop app, which makes no sense.)

Cheers and good luck.

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Auto redirecting to a mobile site is fine, but never auto redirect to a mobile app. One option could be to do some device detecting on the front end then a pop up dialog that says something like "We've detected you're on an iPad, did you want to use our Mobile App"

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why never redirect to a mobile app? –  JonW Apr 5 '13 at 6:14
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