Mobile App vs. Mobile Website (or Both)?

We’re at a point where mobile is pretty much everything if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur. People are attached to their mobile devices, and these devices are their primary source of information. For a business to be in front of the customer, they have to maintain a strong mobile presence.

Most marketing money goes toward mobile strategies and efforts, and if a business isn’t dedicated to a mobile-first mentality, they’re not going to be competitive.

This all leads to one big tech-driven question, however. Does a business need a mobile app, a mobile website or both?

The following are some things to consider when answering this question.

Developing An App

The process to develop a mobile app is going to be more in-depth and expensive than creating a mobile website, but for most businesses that take the plunge, it’s worth the investment. You’ll have to hire a developer or work with a company that can help you as well, and this is an important decision.

“So just make sure that you don’t skip any of the steps and you’re very thorough,” writes Ian Blair of Buildfire, with regard to hiring a developer.

A mobile website, on the other hand, you can probably create yourself, or you may already have one. For example, many WordPress themes are entirely responsive already, so there’s not much you have to do there.

Pros and Cons of a Mobile Website

If you think you’re going to opt for a mobile website and skip the app for the time being, of course there are both pros and cons.

Some of the pros of a mobile app include its broad compatibility across mobile devices and the more expansive reach. With an app, they may be designed for a specific operating system and type of device. A mobile website is going to work across devices, and you don’t have to decide on which operating system you’ll design for.

In general, with a mobile site you’re going to have a broader reach.

There’s also the consideration of ongoing maintenance and support. Websites are much easier and less expensive to maintain than mobile apps.

So what are the cons of just going with a mobile website?

First, mobile websites don’t take advantage of all of the great features of a smartphone such as cameras. Mobile apps can be designed to improve the user experience in a way that websites can’t, and mobile websites aren’t available offline while apps can be designed to offer that.

Pros and Cons of Mobile Apps

One of the biggest pros of a mobile app over a website is the fact that users tend to prefer apps. The vast majority of time people spend on their mobile device is spent on apps. Another pro is the ability to implement more advanced features into an app. For example, using GPS or as was mentioned above, the camera that’s on a mobile device.

If you want to integrate social elements or content like YouTube videos, again an app is the only option that’s going to offer the functionality you need.

Apps are highly customizable, and you can keep yourself at the forefront of user’s minds with things like push notifications. You can also use the data and analytics you collect from app users to drive future decisions and implement new features.

When it comes to the cons of mobile apps, these were introduced above with regard to the pros of a mobile website. For example, mobile apps can take time and money to develop, and they can be expensive to maintain.

Saved User Data

If your business is e-Commerce and you sell to customers online, there’s one major way apps tend to come out on top. They make it easier for customers to make a purchase because user data can be saved.

Most customers aren’t going to want to enter all of their information on a mobile website because it’s time consuming and typically not user-friendly.

Summing Up

If your in the process of deciding between an app and a mobile website, consider doing both. Mobile apps offer a rich user experience, and people tend to prefer spending time in mobile apps. At the same time, to address the limitations that exist with a mobile app, it might be a good idea to also have a great mobile website. The world is driven by mobile, so you want to exist in as many places as you can to stay competitive.