Ok, you get it.
You understand that your business really should provide a mobile-friendly experience to accommodate the ever-increasing number of mobile users.
But the $64,000 question is, “Do you build a mobile app or a mobile website?”
Well that depends.
Some of the factors you’ll need to consider are:
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your available budget?
- What is the intended purpose?
- What features do you require?
Therefore, let’s take a look at the main similarities as well as differences between mobile apps and mobile websites.
Similarities between mobile apps and mobile websites:
- Both are a great extension of your brand and can increase user engagement due to the fact that a mobile app as well as a mobile website are formatted and designed to be viewed on the touch-screen interface of a mobile device.
- Both can take advantage of the native features of a smartphone, such as “tap-to-call” (aka “click-to-call”).
Differences between mobile apps and mobile websites:
- Mobile apps need to be downloaded to your phone. A mobile website is immediately available in the web browser of your mobile device.
- A mobile app can be designed in a way where an Internet connection may not be required to use the app. With a mobile website, an Internet connection is required.
- With a mobile app, a separate application must be written for each mobile operation system (i.e. Android vs. Blackberry vs. iPhone), whereas a mobile website is accessible across all operating systems.
- Apps cannot rank in the search engines because they reside on the mobile device. Mobile websites are fully indexable by search engines like Google.
- The approval process for release of a mobile app can be somewhat lengthy. A mobile website, on the other hand, can often be designed and published within a matter of days.
- When updating a mobile app, the update must be “pushed” to the mobile user, then the mobile user has to download a new version of the app. With a mobile website, updates happen immediately and are experienced automatically by the mobile user without any action required on their part.
- Mobile apps are often more expensive and take longer to develop than mobile websites.
For the needs of most businesses, a mobile website is probably going to be the way to go.
However, if your interaction with the mobile user requires more of a mini downloadable computer program instead of a website (think “Angry Birds” or a mortgage payment calculator), then an app might be what you need.