Why Deep Linking Is Back

This post by Taylor Davidson is a few months old, but it’s nevertheless useful as an overview of an important evolution in mobile ecosystems. Davidson writes about the current interest in deep linking—methods that allow users to tap on a link and be taken to a specific piece of content within a native app.

Deep linking is another example of how the mobile Internet experience has evolved very differently than the desktop Internet experience, in part driven by the success of mobile apps as the dominant mobile Internet experience. Cookies, originally an open specification of the web, have been replaced by proprietary identification methods owned by popular apps or mobile operating systems. Deep linking, originally a best practice, is now a specification of its own. Without the URL structure of the web, mobile app developers are forced to implement deep linking schemes to build back some of the basic functionality that the open web was originally built upon.

Relatedly, Davidson also wrote this blog post with some smart insights on card interfaces a while back:

As a design model, a card is an important evolution because it addresses the specific demands of mobile devices and interfaces very effectively. Cards combine an information design pattern with a set of gesture interaction methods (swipes, flicks) that create efficient user experiences (and perhaps, great engagement metrics). Consider cards as part of the evolution from web pages to web streams to mobile streams, refining the feed-based content model used by web and mobile sites into the potential “atomic unit of content” on mobile.

But beyond the design cue, the larger significance of cards are the architecture behind them. In the implementations of cards by Twitter, Google, Kik and others, the card does more than just deliver first-party content from an internal API, but utilizes the structured interface of a card to display data from a variety of third-parties using first-party data. For example, a Tinder card is a structured display of first-party content from Tinder, while a Twitter card is a structured display of third-party content that is served natively into the card that may also be personalized using first-party Twitter data.

These two types of cards may be thought of as “1st party card interfaces” and “3rd party card interfaces,” but however they are defined, it’s an important distinction. A Tinder card is a unit of content. A Twitter card is a platform.

Thanks to Ryan Dawidjan for supplying virtually this entire post over Slack.