We’ve devoted a great deal of attention to the importance of being mobile-friendly in your web presence in 2022. With the majority of internet users accessing the web through their mobile devices, it is crucial to be able to reach the people where they are at. Mobile App vs Mobile Website (Which Does My Business Need?)
But with the increasing popularity of mobile apps, you may be wondering if this is the right call for your business to be able to achieve that end. Should you create a fully dedicated mobile app, or simply design a website for mobile?
We’re here to help you answer just that. Here’s a brief overview of mobile websites versus apps, the different purposes they serve, and how to decide which is right for your business.
What’s A Mobile Website?
A mobile website is just like any other website, accessible to anyone on the web via a distinct URL (web address). What distinguishes it is that it is optimized for a mobile device such as a smartphone, tablet, or e-reader.
This can be accomplished through either responsive or adaptive website design.
- Responsive design uses a single layout, and adjusts the various page elements to fit the given size of the user’s screen. Mobile App vs Mobile Website (Which Does My Business Need?)
- Adaptive design creates different fixed layouts that adapt to the given screen size.
6Ninety9 advocates responsive web design – an approach with all kinds of advantages you can read about in our comprehensive ebook.
But whichever approach you choose, the end result is basically to create a website that can be viewed easily, read clearly, and that looks beautiful whether you open it in its desktop or mobile format.
What’s a Mobile Website Good For?
Here are some of the reasons you may want to tend toward a mobile website in your particular situation:
- It costs less. If you’re working on a fixed web development budget, websites are the more cost-effective option. This is both because it’s much easier to find qualified web designers than mobile app designers, and because with a website you only need one version;
- It’s easier to maintain. When it comes to maintenance and updates, websites are much quicker and, again, cheaper than mobile apps. This is because you’re only updating a single source of code.
- All the profits go to you. If you create a website, you can keep 100% of your earnings, and not have to pay part of them for placement in an app store.
- You can reach a wider market. Websites are accessible to anyone with an internet connection, and again, especially with a mobile site, you’re putting yourself in the hands of 90% of internet users.
What’s a Mobile Website Not Good For?
Conversely, here are some things that might make a mobile site not the right fit for you:
- It starts to run slow if you have too many elements. A mobile site can only support up to about 5-7 on-screen elements while running normally. Any more than that, and it starts to lag.
- It gives you less access to native mobile features such as Bluetooth, compass, augmented reality, NFC, etc.
- You always need an internet connection to be able to use it. This might be a problem if you’re in an area with limited connectivity, like a subway tunnel or a cabin in the mountains.
- Animations run slower. If you plan on showing a lot of these or if your brand requires it, that means this might not be the best way for you to go.
What’s A Mobile App? Mobile App vs Mobile Website (Which Does My Business Need?)
These can be developed as either native, hybrid or cross-platform apps.
- Native apps are built for a particular Operating System (OS).
- Hybrid apps are a combination of native and web app development, which allows web platforms to interact responsively with users similarly to a downloadable app, but is still accessed through the internet.
- Cross-platform apps develop shareable and reusable code to build apps for different OSes.
Any of these methods, again, result in the same end: creating the various apps that populate our smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, enabling us to use these devices to perform all the activities we love so well.
What’s a Mobile App Good For?
So what are some of the reasons you might want to choose a mobile app over a mobile website?
- It’s a good way to reach a target audience. If you’re aiming to reach users of a particular platform such as iOS, you can develop an app tailor-made for them with 100% greater speed and user experience.
- It can use all the same features as your mobile device. Whatever your iPhone, Android, Google Pixel etc can do, it’s your playground if you’re creating a mobile app.
- You can use it even when you’re not connected to the internet. If you happen to be somewhere and your connection cuts out, most apps can still display cached content. They will then pull new content as soon as the connection is restored.
- It has more methods of engagement. These include notifications, gestures, sharing options, etc.
What’s a Mobile App Not Good For?
Some of the reasons you may opt against creating an app are:
- Whereas with a mobile website you only need to create one version, with an app, you need two: one for iOS and one for Android.
- Because of this, as opposed to mobile websites, apps need to be developed using multiple sources of code.
- While a website allows you to keep 100% of your profits, if you create a mobile app, you have to give 15-30% of your revenue to Google and Apple.
- In contrast to a website which is accessible to anyone on the internet, with an app, you’re somewhat pigeonholing yourself. Not everyone uses that many mobile apps besides the ones that come with their phone and which they need to use the basic functions of their phone such as call apps, message apps and web browsers.
All in all, there are pros and cons to both having a mobile website and a mobile app. Each of these depend heavily on your particular branding needs, resources and other specifications of your business. Hopefully this overview helps clarify which service is best for you and your customers. Subscribe to our Newsletter for more helpful tips to develop your business’s web presence to its fullest potential.