When deciding which type of mobile presence to establish for your business or organization, you’ll likely consider whether you want to create a mobile website or app. They both look very similar at first glance, but there are a number of factors that will determine which is most suited to your needs.
Differences Between a Mobile Website and an App
Before deciding which type of platform to use for your business, it’s important to understand the key differences between apps and mobile websites. Mobile websites are accessed on handheld devices such as smartphones (e.g. iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and tablets, while apps are accessed on desktop computers. Additionally, mobile websites can be updated more frequently than app versions; however, app versions can be upgraded or replaced with new features or functionality over time.
A mobile website is a website that is designed for use on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Mobile websites are typically accessed through a cellular or WiFi connection. They differ from standard websites because they have smaller browser windows and menus and are designed for easier access with a touch screen interface. Responsive web design has become the new standard for ensuring that all types of devices can view an online site, no matter how large or small.
Mobile websites/responsive sites can display text content, data, images and video. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.
Apps must be downloaded and installed from a device-specific portal, such as the App Store on Apple devices, the Android Market on Android devices, or the Blackberry App World on Blackberry devices. Apps may access content and data from the Internet similarly to websites.
Advantages of a Mobile Website vs. Native Apps
– Immediacy – Mobile Websites Are Instantly Available
– Compatibility – Mobile Websites are Compatible Across Devices
– Upgradability – Mobile Websites Can Be Updated Instantly
– Findability – Mobile Websites Can be Found Easily
– Shareability – Mobile Websites Can be Shared Easily by Publishers, and Between Users
– Reach – Mobile Websites Have Broader Reach
– LifeCycle – Mobile Websites Can’t be Deleted
– Time and Cost – Mobile Websites are Easier and Less Expensive
– Support and Maintenance
Mobile usage continues to grow worldwide, and as a result, the “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. If your primary goal is marketing-driven, or if you want to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily maintained, shared between users, and found on search engines then responsive website design is the logical choice.
Apps are more user-friendly than websites or standalone applications because they allow you to access a user’s phone storage and native functions.
In many cases, your brand may find that it needs both a mobile website and a mobile app. If done correctly, both can be strategic and valuable choices for your brand. So when it comes to developing your brand’s mobile strategy, don’t make the mistake of thinking about whether you need a website or an app- instead, consider whether you should develop both a website and an app for maximum impact.