Does your organization need a mobile app or a mobile website?

September 7, 2015 on Mobile

Due to the increasing adoption of mobile devices and apps for both business users and consumers, the importance of building mobile presence is impossible to ignore. According to a report published by public relations firm Walker Sands 30 percent of total web traffic for their clients came from mobile devices, which includes mobile-optimized websites and applications.

Almost every medium-large organization has its mobile optimized website and an iOS/Android/Windows application. Given this, it has become essential for any business to develop a native application or a mobile-optimized website in order to keep up with the competition, engage with customers, and leverage new marketing opportunities.

Graph Mobile

Almost 27 percent of consumer’s time is spent on apps from retail businesses according to Ad Media partners, while at the same time close to 67 percent of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase from a mobile website according to Google Mobile Ads blog. Given this, it has become quite challenging to decide between developing a responsive website design or a mobile app. Even though the simplest answer would be to build both a website and an app, it is not the choice that many companies can afford. In most cases, it comes to choosing between the two.

Before evaluating pros and cons of a mobile website versus an app, it is important to understand the differences between the two. What is in common is the fact that handheld devices are used to access the content, where in most cases these are smartphones and tablets. Both can display data and content like images, text, graphics, animations, and video. However, the way mobile websites and native applications are built is completely different and unique to each solution.

Taking photo on mobile phone

This is why it is important to understand benefits and limitations of websites and applications before deciding how to deliver content to your mobile community. Organizations can seek the advice of technology consulting companies to help them make a choice to meet their specific needs.

1) Accessibility and Updates

A mobile website is a series of HTML-powered pages that can be opened via web browsers like iOS’ Safari, Android’s Chrome, or Window’s Internet Explorer. A single mobile website becomes immediately accessible to every possible smartphone platform, which is not the case with mobile apps. This also applies to content and website structure updates that become available as soon as they are published. You also need to read 10 wearable technologies you’ve never heard of.

When it comes to applications, even though content can be directly updated, every change in their architecture and structure needs to go through an app marketplace (iOS App Store/Google Play Store), and is available only after the marketplace administrators approve it.

2) Compatibility

In terms of compatibility, there are a few key differences between mobile websites and apps. Since websites are using HTML to display content, websites are rendered within a web browser without any problems. This means that a single website can be viewed on differently sized screens and different web browsers. This is one of the most important benefits, since applications need to be optimized for every single mobile platform and differently sized screens. On the same topic, check out 5 tips on building a responsive website,

This can particularly be a concern for Android-powered applications due to the platform’s fragmentation, since smartphone manufacturers are using broad range of Android OS variants to power their devices. Furthermore, if a company aims at broader deployment in terms of availability on different smartphone platforms (iOS/Android/Windows), an application needs to be have a separate version for each platform, which requires dedicated IT stuff and significant financial resources.

3) Native functionality

Mobile applications come with their own set of challenges, but they also bring many benefits that are unique to a natively run application. Websites cannot utilize the same set of features found in native apps. For example, an app can access a smartphone’s camera, geo-location services, and more. Furthermore, apps can be of high, since they can gather data about customer’s behavior and preferences, and they can send geo-targeted push messages. On a similar note, create “native looking” apps with Chocolate Chip UI.

As a more personalized manner of communication, mobile application can utilize loyalty programs by using mobile payment platforms. For example, even when an application is closed, it can still send push messages to users and to engage them, which is something that a website is not capable of doing.

photodune-6393022-the-library-in-the-ebook-xs

Responsive mobile web design can compete with native apps by using features like one-click calling, GPS, and mapping services, as well as mobile commerce and mobile ads. However, accessibility to these services is somewhat limited in comparison to applications. Users can only interact with websites by visiting the URL within their web browsers, where an application can be opened and interacted with, by simply tapping on the screen.

4) Financial sustainability

In terms of financial investment, it is clear that applications demand more resources right from the beginning. In order to build and deploy a mobile app, an IT team needs to be assembled. Even after the initial launch, an application needs to provide improvements and updated content in order to stay relevant and competitive. You might also be interested in Financial rules for web and application developers.

An IT team is needed to deliver the first version to multiple platforms, and then provide support by testing and solving compatibility issues, along with publishing new features and updates. However, this comes with numerous rewards in terms of building a brand, extending marketing abilities, and creating long-term connections with the customers.

E-Business. Flat design illustration. Make money from computer and internet

Conclusion

In order to build strong and viable mobile presence, companies are simultaneously offering applications and mobile-optimized websites. Even though there are scenarios where an application is the best choice (interactive games, offline availability, complex reporting, and similar), a mobile website can be a successful first step when it comes to limited budgets. This is especially true for companies whose main mission is to deliver content and ensure growth of mobile-oriented marketing.

On the other hand, if the goal is to deliver interactive engagement or complex desktop-like features, then a mobile app is a more logical choice. But it’s all up in hands. Let me know your thoughts. Make sure you add your comments below.

This article has been contributed by Silicus Technologies, a leading provider of Software Development and Technology consulting services.