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Who should use WeChat Mini Program? What applets are good for

2017-01-11 22:11:05

To understand what opportunities are available in the applet ecosystem, we need to understand some low-level information first.

Why do WeChat do applets?

There are three types of public accounts on the WeChat public platform: subscription number, service number, and enterprise number. Enterprise numbers are used relatively rarely, and we will not discuss them for now. In the past few years, the development of subscription numbers can be said to exceed everyone's imagination. Before, no one thought that investing in a subscription number without products was valuable.

Subscription and service numbers

Let's first take a look at how subscription and service numbers are doing.

We can see large subscription numbers such as "One", and also subscription numbers that are popular with many media people like "Mi Meng":

WeChat Mini Program

There is also a constellation number like "Uncle Tong". Of course, there are also "blogs" with very strong personal colors, such as "small news":


At the service number level, China Merchants Bank Credit Card is often mentioned. The "Evening Calendar" is a very good schedule management service number at the experience level:

WeChat Mini Program

In "Assistant Comes", you can order various services around you, and you can also save the public account articles you read into Evernote (China version) through "My Evernote":


The appearance of subscription numbers and service numbers has gradually made WeChat an ecology, and users can complete reading, socializing, and obtaining life services without leaving WeChat.

Service number cannot solve the problem of high frequency use

According to WeChat's expectations, the subscription number should have provided users with content, but was played with various marketing and e-commerce spend; the service number should have provided users with various services, but there were few service numbers that were really made Yes, you may have heard of many VC investment subscription numbers, but few have VC investment service numbers.

The service number did not develop well. Most service numbers are just for push and low frequency services instead of SMS.

For example, the credit card public account of China Merchants Bank, which is regarded as a classic case, is mainly used to receive notifications. It merely replaces the notification by swiping a text message, and other functions are rarely used.

Think about why we download an app for a product instead of using the exact same functionality in its service number:

  1. Poor experience, HTML experience is not as good as native, fluent
  2. There are many levels. The service directory needs to be entered at least once when the app is opened.
  3. Too dependent on the network, without the network, the service number cannot be used

For low-frequency use scenarios, even if the experience is poor, there are many levels, and every time you need to connect to the Internet, users can tolerate, such as checking the credit card limit, this behavior may only be once or twice a month, even if the web experience is poor, but We can stand it.

But for high-frequency usage scenarios, such as document editing, we may need to use it many times a day. At this time, we obviously have higher requirements for experience, speed, and stability. The service number and HTML cannot perfectly meet these requirements.

The contradiction is coming. WeChat hopes that the third party will use the service number to provide users with services, but from the functional level, the service number only addresses the needs of low-frequency services, and users of high-frequency services still need to download apps.

At this time, WeChat needs to provide another capability to meet the needs of high-frequency services.

WeChat wants to be the only entrance

Why does WeChat have to meet the needs of high-frequency services?

Because business is greedy, the ultimate purpose of business is monopoly.

800 million active users is not enough for WeChat. It only is not enough for WeChat to only occupy 4 hours a day. It is not enough for WeChat to provide credit card consumption notifications.

WeChat wants more, Tencent wants more. When WeChat is already a super portal, it wants to become the only super portal, which will take up more of your time and usage scenarios. It may never be an OS, but it wants to be a "de facto" OS.

Applets are a necessary complement to the fact that WeChat has become the OS. Because it was born to meet the high-frequency application scenarios where the service number did not meet the requirements.

So, with a three-pronged approach, WeChat hopes to occupy:

  • More user time
  • More application scenarios
  • More service entrances


The subscription number addresses reading needs, the service number meets low-frequency service needs, and the applet is positioned for high-frequency use scenarios.

It sounds scary, but I'm afraid no one can stop WeChat from becoming an OS in the short term.

Applets are an independent ecology

It is important to understand applets as an independent ecosystem, which makes it easier to see the opportunities that exist in applets.

What is ecology?

  1. My understanding of the software ecosystem is this:
  2. A big platform created this ecology
  3. Provide a unified entrance for all developers
  4. Has a unified development language
  5. Strict specifications for UI, operations, etc.
  6. Platform and developer sharing and win-win

The diagram is as follows:


Compare Apple to WeChat

According to the previous definition, we can easily draw the ecological structure of the Apple App Store:


  • Apple is the big platform
  • Unified entrance is the App Store
  • Unified development with Swift or Obj-C language
  • Apple has strict specifications on UI, operations, etc.
  • Apple shares revenue with developers

Let's take a look at the ecology of WeChat applets:


  • WeChat is a big platform
  • The unified entrance is the WeChat app
  • Unified development with applet language
  • WeChat Mini Program provides detailed UI, operation and other specifications
  • There is currently no revenue sharing with developers, but there is a possibility for this in the future

Compared with the service number, WeChat has spent more time on the ecological construction of the applet. For example, there was no UI specification before and there was no independent language before. These have gradually made the applet an independent ecology.

How to discover new opportunities with ecological thinking?

The emergence of any new ecology will bring the following opportunities:

  1. New application scenarios, even new users
  2. The original application in other ecological existence will reappear in a new form
  3. WeChat development will be an independent post, just like iOS development

For the third point, I am convinced, so it is possible that the college launched the "WeChat public account and applet development" course in July this year, with a cycle of 2 months, and carefully cultivates people who are as forward-looking as us. .


You can think about the first wave of dividends when the App Store first launched in 2008, did you seize these opportunities.

Of course, more people know the word "bonus" than in 2008.

Correctly understand WeChat Mini Program

Since Zhang Xiaolong proposed to be an "application number" in early 2016, the outside world's guesses and expectations for the application number have never stopped. Most people and the media believe that applets will bring new opportunities to marketing.

I think a lot of media have taken the direction of the applet's opportunities. The marketing ability of the applet is actually very poor. They may not have looked at the applet's development documentation or even participated in the development of the applet or had in-depth communication with the developer , Just, um, a little garbled.

The following 10-point understanding of the applet comes from my interpretation of the applet's documentation and actual development. During this period, I also had some communication with WeChat staff.

1. Mini Program is the next key product of WeChat

Even one of the highest priority products, because this is the path that WeChat wants to become a real OS. This has been discussed earlier.

This means that developers can rest assured that they can focus their energy and resources on applets.

2. No attention, no psychological pressure

Unlike service numbers and subscription numbers, applets don't focus on features. This means that for the user, the psychological cost is smaller. The user enters the applet through searching and can use it immediately, unlike the service number, which needs to be paid attention to first.

But this is obviously not a good thing for developers. this means:

  • You ca n’t group messages because you have no followers at all
  • You may need to build your own system, but conversion rate is a problem

Therefore, to a certain extent, small programs have increased the requirements for product operation capabilities.

3. Not HTML5 or Hybrid

The cool H5 pages we often see in the circle of friends with background music will not appear in the applet.

Wechat applet development uses languages changed from Javascript, CSS, XML, and also provides various own components and APIs, which makes the applet independent:

  • It is not compatible with HTML, webpage code cannot be used in applets
  • Before development, the developer needs to be familiar with the applet development language. According to the WeChat naming method, it may be called WeLang.

Being incompatible with HTML not only means that you can't use HTML tags in your pages, it also means that you can't embed HTML pages: either don't embed them, or rewrite them with WeLang.

4. No external links

Incompatible HTML also means that you cannot place external links in applets. The <a> tag in HTML is prohibited.

This largely limits the marketing. In the service number, we can still insert links in the article. The current version of the applet cannot insert external links, even if you place a QR code, press and hold directly on the page. , And there is no "Identify QR Code" option (current version).

Very restrictive, isn't it? There is even more severe.

5. Can't share to friends circle

Yes, the media that preached that mini-programs can bring big marketing opportunities will be shaved, at least by the current version of the mini-program.

The current version of the applet does not support sharing to the circle of friends. You can share any page of the applet to individuals or groups in the address book, but you cannot share to the circle of friends. This means that you will not see the circle of friends in the circle of friends. The program swipes the screen, the screen is still the original ones.

From experience, WeChat will make every effort to maintain order in the circle of friends. I do n’t know if the applet can be shared in the circle of friends in the future, but at least not opening this port is a good thing for WeChat. Once opened, it will be difficult to recover.

6. Native programs developed in WeChat language

As mentioned earlier, the WeChat applet is not developed in HTML and is not compatible with HTML markup. It is a set of its own language (tentatively called WeLang). The pages developed using WeLang have an experience close to that of native apps Because in addition to the data, files that define the page's style, data structure, logic, etc. have been downloaded in advance and do not need to be loaded in real time like web pages, and because the page can call components provided by applets, these components are already built into the WeChat client. The experience is actually "native."

A WeChat page contains 4 files:

  • WXML: Page Structure
  • JS: Page logic
  • WXSS: Page Style
  • JSON: page configuration


Note: These 4 files are non-hierarchical

The JSON files are not required. These four files are downloaded locally when the user downloads the applet—just like a native app, the applet only needs to connect to the API to get the specified data.

This experience is very smooth and very native.

7. Extremely low front-end development costs

One of the biggest costs of front-end development is compatibility adaptation. Whether it is a web front-end that needs to adapt to various browsers, or Android client development, it needs to be repeatedly debugged in devices of different sizes and performances.

For startups, these costs are not cost-effective, because startups need to bring products to market quickly, and compatibility issues often cause obstacles to rapid iteration.

The cost of developing WeChat mini-programs is relatively low for front-end engineers, because WeChat has solved the compatibility problem. The front-end engineer only needs to learn WeLang, and then develop according to the specifications. The compatibility problem is handed over to WeChat.

Once developed, common across multiple platforms.

8. The imagination of using offline with Websocket

The WeChat applet supports offline use and also runs in the background, which brings imagination to the gadget.

For example, tools like perpetual calendar, Todolist, and tomato alarm clock will appear in large numbers. What I am looking forward to more is that WeChat will provide a direct communication capability between sessions and applets in the future.


Many APIs of the applet are similar to the service number, but the Websocket API is new. Many friends who got the internal test told me that this new API can bring huge imagination. For example, you can create a "you draw my guess" game in a small program.

But what I'm looking forward to more is whether this real-time communication API will bring new possibilities to vertical society. This will be discussed in detail later.

9. No games, no live broadcasts

Yes, "you draw my guess" cannot actually appear on the applet platform.

The current version of the applet documentation clearly states that game, live broadcast, applet navigation, applet links, and applet leaderboards cannot be submitted.

10. Has an audit mechanism

The word "commit" was mentioned earlier. Unlike subscription numbers and service numbers, you do not need to pass WeChat review for posting articles, and you do not need to change the button function, but every version update of the applet must pass WeChat review—just like the App Store.


For users, this is a good thing, which means that most of the services that pass the audit are of high quality. The bad news is that for those who only focus on the marketing level, here is another limitation.

What opportunities are there?

The reason why the applet is "small" is that, because the installation package does not exceed 1024 KB and users can search and use it, it also defines a new application scenario-the scenario of direct service.


I believe many people have seen Zhang Xiaolong's definition of WeChat Mini Program: use it and go at your fingertips. From his original words and our process of developing applets, my understanding of this sentence is that WeChat expects applets to provide users with faster direct services, such as users searching for "Beijing to Shanghai tickets" in the search box. The program should immediately go to the ticket list page, not the introduction of the applet or the tedious registration process.

In fact, users can search not only the name and description of the applet, but also its maximum of 5 functional pages, which means that WeChat places special emphasis on the use case of direct search.

Combining the functions provided by the applet and new application scenarios, let's talk about the opportunities in the applet.

Copy from other ecology

Copying is easier than innovation, and the new ecology also has a strong demand for application diversity, so you will soon see that a large number of people will "copy" applications from the App Store to applets.

The first wave was copied. It is very likely that various inquiry products with relatively low development thresholds, such as the check of telephone ownership, the check of courier, the check of constellations, and the check of air quality.

When copying, it should be noted that WeChat's definition of the user scene of the applet is different. Copying may not be the best idea, and it needs to be properly adjusted.

Don't fight the channel

The query products mentioned earlier are what I thought about. Similarly, people with a little experience in this industry can think of it.

This means that, like you, there are so many people who want to move apps from the App Store to applets. If you are just an independent developer or a small startup, you might as well put aside this idea, because the ultimate channel test of this type of product is not the product design ability.


Products that can make up for Tencent's gap may be encouraged, and e-commerce is one of the most imaginative areas.

The biggest entry point for e-commerce is Ali. Although Tencent has e-commerce platforms such as and Weidian, the total volume is still far from Taobao and Alibaba.

WeChat hopes to occupy all application scenarios and service entrances of users. Of course, e-commerce is no exception, and it happens that e-commerce is also urgently needed by Tencent. Why should Taobao be opened for shopping?

From this perspective, there will be a large number of small programs in the direction of e-commerce, and Tencent will certainly encourage it from the policy. From this perspective, the mutual shielding of Taobao and WeChat may lay the foundation for the e-commerce ecosystem in the mini program.

Vertical social

Our WeChat contacts are messy, with family, colleagues, classmates, and even people who have had one-off relationships.

Subscribers have been trying to build a user community, but whether they use independent apps or WeChat groups, the conversion rate is extremely poor.

These two requirements, along with the Websocket API, make vertical socialization in applets possible.


For example, a subscription number that pays attention to pregnant women. It can use a small program to build a community of pregnant women. Pregnant women can communicate and shop with her in the community without leaving WeChat.

For example, you can also copy a Tinder in the applet to let users manage their one-time relationship in a unified way. From the technical interface and requirements, it has a reason for appearing.

Many people expect WeChat to open the relationship chain. I don't think it will ever open the relationship chain to external products, but I think that WeChat allows and also needs vertical social based on WeChat platform.

2B Products and Tools

There is no doubt that 2B products and tools will be a hot area for applets, especially for high-frequency tool products.

Imagine a scenario where your company's internal communication is nailed, but anyway, you have to use WeChat when communicating with external customers. However, there is no data synchronization between WeChat and DingDao, which brings inconvenience to internal and external communication. You need to manually copy the communication content in WeChat and paste it into DingDing.

Imagine a scenario where you need to write a document that is shared with the team. This document may be updated several times a day. The previous method was to modify it on a computer and send it to the company group. Imagine why you can't update in a small program (purely fictitious) called "Team Disk". Team members only need to open the small program to get the latest version?


Now that WeChat has become our most commonly used communication tool, why can't we also bring in work scenarios? It was not possible before, because there was no barrier to communication in WeChat before, all communication was mixed and not suitable for office, so they launched Enterprise WeChat.

Now, mini-programs can become this "barrier". Office communication can be carried out in mini-programs. Daily communication with external parties is still through conversation. If one day, WeChat provides the communication capability of "Session-Mini Program", the smoothness of the office scene will be even higher.

Marketing needs new ideas

  • Because the WeChat applet has restrictions on marketing:
  • No attention to features
  • Cannot send messages
  • Cannot embed web pages and external links
  • Can't share to friends

The operation of applets requires new ideas. Of course, the best marketing is to provide the services that users need most, so that users can spread their word of mouth. In addition, there will definitely be new marketing ideas. I do n’t know what new ideas will come out, but I believe that the “smartness and wisdom” of the Chinese people, especially those who play traffic will think of new methods. However, I We also believe that WeChat will, as always, limit excessive marketing.

Content products are actually not suitable for applets

Pure display content products are actually not suitable for small programs. I mean pure media.

What does the media need? Public attention.

The applet does not follow, cannot be sent in groups, and cannot be shared in the circle of friends, which means that users can only find this media through search or QR codes. Obviously this is not the media's gameplay. The media's gameplay is to make a big news, let everyone forward it in the circle of friends, and then continue to make big news.

Therefore, the subscription number is still the most suitable public number for the media, but if the media company has the development capability, it can be a subscription number and a small program-based community at the same time, and find ways to convert subscribers into the community.

Other opportunities also need to change the thinking of the scene

Opportunities are certainly not limited to what I said, but no matter what type of products and services are in the applet, changing the scenario thinking is very important. This requires us to give priority to how users can quickly obtain services when designing products, rather than How do we get users first.

It sounds simple, but when it comes to making products, it's often difficult to make trade-offs.

Still the old saying, start a WeChat first

WeChat is already the largest Internet portal in China. The launch of the mini program will allow it to occupy more user scenarios and user time. From the perspective of doing business, consider where users are and where users spend more time. Build entrance.

Compared to developing native apps, the advantages of developing WeChat public account have been explained in detail in "Don't Develop Apps". In fact, more and more entrepreneurs around me have chosen not to develop apps.

Many people worry about two issues:

  1. Does Apple allow applets?
  2. What to do if killed by micro envelope

The first question is obviously not to worry, there is nothing that cannot be negotiated between the two large companies. Maximizing benefits is a common pursuit.

For the second point, my understanding is that the rules of WeChat are becoming clearer, and what can and cannot be done is stated in the rules, but if we make a product that has serious conflicts with Tencent's interests, it may still be Blocked, after all, Tencent is a commercial company, not a public welfare organization.

On the other hand, sometimes it may not be Tencent that blocked us. I won't say much about this.

Of course, it is still necessary to keep one hand. If we develop a WeChat applet, the back-end API is actually similar to the API provided to iOS and Android. At any time, it is important to have a copy of the data in your own hands. Haven't you promised to never close your free disk for life? This is also more convenient when you have a large number of users, porting from WeChat to other platforms.

In short, the bonus is there, but everyone has realized that in addition to fast, don't forget to switch your mind to the "direct service" scenario.

Author: Jason Ng

Article Source: Maybe (Subscription ID: knbknb)

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