Tool vs. Resource Apps


Tool vs. Resource App - What's the Difference?

Mobile apps have been proliferating throughout the world for years now, but when we take a step back and consider what they truly are, every app falls into one of two buckets.

Tool or Resource.

Yep - that's it.

Think about every single app you have on your phone right now. Starbucks, WalMart, Groupon, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Candy Crush, Headspace, Strava, etc.

They are all either tools or resources - or they could even be a blend of both. So let's dive into this and look more closely at the difference between the two.


1. Think about a "tool" - it serves a specific purpose for a specific outcome.

Let's think about this in terms of outdoor tools. Your lawnmower, leaf-blower or even a simple rake. You choose the proper tool which is going to accomplish the specific outcome you are after - cutting the grass, cleaning up leaves or creating a pile of some sort. You get the idea.

Now, do you see how an app can function the same way? Every app has the purpose of accomplishing at least one specific goal for the end-user. In the case of Starbucks, it's ordering coffee. In the case of WalMart, it's ordering products or groceries online. In the case of Strava, it's logging your run and getting the stats from that run.

The bottom line to remember here is that every single app inside of the "tool" bucket should bring the end user a specific outcome in a specific way. In that sense it becomes a very useful tool.

2. Think about a "resource" - something that gives specific information on a specific topic.


When you think of a "resource" what comes to mind? Something valuable, useful, perhaps enjoyable? Regardless of what meaning you attach to the word resource, in the app world, a "resource" app is almost the opposite of a tool app, in that you aren't actually using the features of the app to accomplish a particular goal, but rather get specific information on a specific topic.

A great example of this kind of app is the All Trails app. This app gives you nearby listings and information about local hiking trails in your area, no matter where you are in the world. You don't use the app to physically hike up the mountain or walk on the trail, but the app itself proves to be a very valuable resource for someone looking to find a great nearby place to hike.

Ok - so I know what you might be thinking at this point - "Aren't there apps that do both?"

Yes, there are.

In fact, many apps out there are a hybrid model between a tool and a resource app. They serve both purposes and fall into both buckets at some level.

Think of the WalMart app again. Not only is it a tool app in many aspects, but it can also be a resource inside of providing useful information and deals for people when they are product shopping or comparing items from other stores.

In summary, many apps can be both a "tool" and a "resource" so when it comes to making your app the way you want it, you need to sit down and truly think about which bucket you want your app to learn more heavily towards. Do you want your app to be a tool or do you want it to be more informational-based and resource-heavy?

Either way, you can create a stunningly effective and useful app for your audience no matter what you decide.

If you'd like to learn more about how we can help you get started with your app idea, visit for more information.


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