Over the past decade, there has been an exponential rise in the number of mobile users. If statistics are to be believed, there were 2.9 billion smartphone users in 2018 and the figure is estimated to reach 3.8 billion in 2021 (Source: Statista).
In fact, the number of mobile-only users has surpassed the number of desktop-only users, forcing companies to reconsider their mobile strategy. The burgeoning popularity of mobile app development services keeps many companies on the fence, making them wonder if a mobile website or a mobile app is the right way to go.
Many are of the opinion that in an era when mobiles devices have become ubiquitous, a mobile app is a must-have. Apps have benefits that websites cannot offer. Others assert that you don’t need to approach a mobile app development company and get an app built; a website that’s responsive and works fine on mobile devices is good enough in most cases.
However, if we go deeper, we will find that a lot of factors come into play in deciding between an app and a website. So, in this brief post, we present a brief comparison of both the choices to help you decide your mobile strategy that aligns well with your business objectives.
Mobile App vs Mobile Website: What’s the Difference
First, let us look at how mobile apps are different from mobile websites. You can access both apps and websites through a mobile device such as smartphones and tablets.
As far as a mobile website is concerned, it is composed of browser-based HTML pages linked together. Mobile websites can be accessed on smartphones or tablets through an internet browser.
Responsive websites are the ones that can adjust to different platforms and screen sizes. With companies increasingly prioritising mobile devices, responsive websites have almost become a standard these days.
Mobile websites can display all kinds of content be it text, images, data and video. You can access mobile-specific features such as location-based mapping and click-to-call on a mobile website.
Mobile apps, on the other hand, are applications that are downloaded, installed and used on a mobile device. Unlike a website that’s accessed on a browser, a mobile app can be accessed only when downloaded through a store that may be Google Play or App Store.
Let’s now take a look at the benefits of both mobile apps and mobile websites to help you make an informed decision while devising your mobile strategy.
Benefits of Mobile Apps
Here the positives of using a mobile app for your business:
With a mobile app, you can create a personalized experience for users. This means you can have a tailored communication with users depending on their location, interests, behaviour and so on.
Apps allow users to set up their preferences in the very beginning; based on these preferences they can be served with tailored content.
Apps also track user behaviour and provide them with customised notifications and updates from time to time. Furthermore, many of these apps offer users location-specific content, for instance, offers belonging to a specific store.
b) Utilization of Device Features
Mobile apps can access and use features built in the mobile device such as camera, GPS, contact list, compass and so on. These features allow for a highly interactive experience. Besides, they make a lot of things convenient for users. For instance, if a user has to upload his photo on an app, all he needs to do is take a picture using the device camera. This reduces time and efforts on his part.
c) Offline Access
Mobile apps can work even without an internet connection. While many apps require an internet connection to perform a majority of their tasks, they can provide users with some content and functionality even in offline mode. As a result, they can access information anywhere, anytime.
d) Intuitive Interface
Mobile apps offer an intuitive interface, making it easy for the user to finish tasks in the minimum possible time. Such an interface allows for a highly immersive experience. In any sophisticated app, a lot of functions can be performed with the help of advanced gestures such as tap, swipe, drag, pinch and hold. Such gestures help a user perform tasks better.
A mobile app is a great way of building and reinforcing your brand presence. Because apps can be accessed only when they are downloaded, they are constantly present on your user’s device even when he isn’t actively using it. He sees your app’s icon every time he uses his device. So, if you avail mobile app development services and get an app for your business, it can open avenues for hyper-targeted marketing.
Benefits of Mobile Website
Here are the key benefits of mobile websites for your business:
a) Broader Reach
Whereas mobile apps can run only on specific platforms, which in most cases is either Android or iOS, a mobile website can be accessed from any mobile device irrespective of the OS it operates on. It is, however, essential to remember that network access and quality play a major role in shaping the experience of the user opening your website. Besides, websites are completely free unlike apps that may be paid in some cases.
b) Better from SEO Perspective
With a mobile-optimized website , you stand a chance to rank high in search engine results. A well-optimized website can bring you a lot of web traffic. So, from the perspective of SEO and brand visibility, mobile websites are great.
Cost is one factor to consider when you have budgetary constraints and don’t want to spend too much on your app/website. A sophisticated app can cost you far more than a mobile website. This is particularly true if you want the app for more than one platform.
Mobile App vs Mobile Website: Which Option to Choose?
The choice between a mobile app and a mobile website simply boils down to the objectives of your business. If you aim to provide your users with mobile-friendly content and want this content to reach a wide range of audience, a mobile website is the alternative to go for.
In contrast, if you want to offer your users a highly interactive and immersive experience, approach a mobile app development company and get a mobile app built. You can also choose to build both an app and a website, but that’s feasible only when you have set aside ample budget.