It’s no secret that you need to have a presence in the mobile world. But this brings about the question of “How”. What shape that business will take? A question, that can branch into many others, but the first one that follows is “Mobile app Vs. Mobile website”. While the latter can get you two birds with one stone, the former has distinct advantages that can still overmatch this. Let’s look at the benefits and shortcomings of each way you can go.
Difference between mobile app and mobile website
Long in short, and with as little technicality as possible, an app is built for the device it runs on, and can either be like a brochure, or a tool. Mobile web pages, on the other hand, are meant to display on a web browser. They tend to be like a brochure and usually not a tool.
That is due to underlying technology in each. Apps are built to run directly on the operating system they are made for. Thus, they have direct access to all OS functions and the device hardware. Examples of such device hardware would be motion sensors, GPS location, camera, etc. The user interface and experience will also be better tailored for the way the operating system works.
A mobile website usually won’t have any of those going for it. Moreover, having to run inside a browser app, using web software, may have user experience and performance issues. They are, however, able to run on anything with a browser: iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and tablets. This makes developing them more cost-efficient if they can do what you need. Although web standards across devices and browsers are all over the place, it may not always make it less complex.
Mobile website: The deliverer of information and nothing else
Mobile websites are excellent for conveying information, a message, or a call to action. This action can be many things like getting visitors to check out a product, take part in a survey, or download your mobile app. Due to their platform-agnostic nature, you can be sure that the message will reach everybody.
Moreover, since they are essentially web pages, they will be crawled by search engine bots. This opens up a great way for you to become discovered by many users. If you can leverage the power of SEO correctly, your mobile website will keep bringing new people your way. This way it can bridge to your app or your eCommerce store etc.
We have counted quite a few, and quite decent advantages have we not? Well, that’s about it for them though. Web pages have a lot less in the way of notifications, device functionalities, and monetization opportunities. Apps are faster, nicer Looking, more stable. Thus, the utilization of mobile web pages is usually limited to promotion or providing information, while hopefully getting their visitors into your app.
Mobile apps: the new web and more
Looking now at the other side of “Mobile apps vs Mobile website”, apps can be more demanding to create, but offer more power and features. The apps are pretty much the new media for all. From young to old everyone uses at least one app every day. They are accessible, easy to use, and thanks to pushing notifications, they can always remind themselves to their users.
Advertising, social media, e-commerce, communities, and many other subjects are finding more in apps than traditional websites.
Location service available for mobile apps allows for powerful geofencing features, where you can offer specific content or target ads based on the user’s location.
Back in the early days of mobile apps, you had to create native apps for all different mobile operating systems you want to have an app on. You did that through coding in different programming languages, using the different development environments. Nowadays thanks to app maker platforms like ON AIR App Builder, you can create app quite easily. With a user-friendly visual interface, but without writing a single line of code. This way you can create it once and get the output as native apps for both iOS and Android.
Does it have to be “mobile apps vs mobile web site”, why not both?
While an app is overall the more powerful option, it doesn’t always have to be “Mobile app vs. the mobile app website” but they can complement each other. Therefore, if you can afford both, there may be benefits to having them both. However, if that is not an option getting an app is by far the better way to go with. At least so unless you only need to provide mostly static content.