Mobile App vs. Website – What and When to Choose
The lightning pace at which things move on the web these days is striking. What was working for you one day may not work the next, and it is becoming increasingly harder for businesses to keep up. In the good old days, when the internet was like the Wild West, businesses of all sizes could cash in on their website only because they had one and not many other people did. Needless to say, the landscape has changed, and businesses must adapt to users accessing their site on mobile devices. This presents a choice for many companies: is it better to have a mobile app or website. Let’s take a closer look.
The Difference Between Mobile App and Mobile Website
Both technologies were built with mobile devices in mind. A mobile site will be comprised of browser-based HTML pages which are connected. They are designed to respond to all the various devices that could be used to access the website and consider factors such as screen size and layout. In essence, they give you the best of both worlds: you can display all of the information that you need to convey to the customer just like on a regular desktop website, but you can also mix in things that can only be performed on mobile devices such as adding a click-to-call button.
Conversely, mobile apps must be downloaded and installed on a smartphone or tablet. It can have the same content as your website but with additional advantages such as being able to access it offline.
Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites
The benefits of responsive apps are:
- More branding opportunities – Since a company’s app and their website are two separate entities, you can try out new branding tactics and styles on the app. It is also important to point out that the users get a better experience when they access your content on mobile as opposed to on a computer. If there is something that your website cannot offer the user, then it would be worthwhile to invest in mobile development to get rid of this limitation.
- Better personalization – When responsive app design is performed correctly, you provide the user with a more tailored experience by allowing customers to choose their preference and offering them content based on their browsing history.
- Take advantage of all the capabilities – Leverage features such as push notifications, device alerts, instant updates, and many other features to enhance the customer experience.
- Offline access – While mobile apps need an internet connection to enjoy all the possibilities, it is possible for them to work offline.
- Brand presence – Since the user has to download the app, it will be taking up space on their screens. This way, even if they are not using your app per se, they will still be reminded about your brand just because it is right there on their screens.
Here is what you get with a mobile website:
- Increased audience reach – The user can access the site on any device and share it without difficulty. Also, customers can use search engines to find the web site as opposed to apps that have to be downloaded from their respective stores.
- It’s cheaper – Creating a responsive website is usually cheaper than having to pay for responsive application design especially if you want the app to be accessible on a wide variety of platforms.
- SEO benefits – Mobile optimized sites will be ranked higher in the search engine rankings thus improving your website traffic.
- Easy to upgrade – It is much easier and cheaper to update a website than a mobile app.
- Instantly available – The users can access a mobile website immediately instead of having to wait for an app to download.
Responsive Website vs. Mobile App: Which to Choose
As the number of mobile users increases, this question will very much remain on the minds of business leaders who are looking to either establish or grow their mobile presence. The decision on which one to choose will ultimately depend on your specific situation. If you are starting to build your mobile presence, you should create a mobile website before an app. Also, if you are on a limited budget, it would be better to opt for web development, but you should keep in mind that it will limit the level of personalization you can offer your customers and your level of engagement. In retail, for example, user experience matters a lot, and mobile would be helpful to score a lot of points with the customers. Also, you will be able to leverage the phones capabilities to provide an even more tailored experience. You also have to take into account that a mobile website might be more challenging to navigate therefore you will need to make it easier for the user to get the content they are looking for or check out.
However, if your business objective is to offer content that can better be viewed on mobile devices, then a mobile website would work just fine for you. For example, if you are a blogger and all you are looking to do is deliver your message to the users in an attractive way and build your presence online, then a mobile site should suffice. If you are looking to go beyond merely offering information and you would like to interact with the users to increase brand loyalty, only a mobile app will give you such a possibility.
It worth pointing out that there will be situations where both will be required. For example, if you are noticing that a lot of people are accessing your site via smartphones and tablets, then you can create a mobile website and then offer your app to the users where you can build a closer relationship with them.