Mobility slammed into the enterprise technology scene and made an indelible impact on modern business. There’s no question how important it can be for your firm. If you’re considering mobile development, your firm’s question might be: What type of mobile presence is best for your business? What should you choose between a mobile website or a mobile app?

Both mobile apps and mobile websites are accessed on handheld devices like smartphones and tablets. A mobile website is the first step in developing a mobile web presence. On the other hand, a mobile app might be useful for developing a specific application for your enterprise. Building and testing mobile apps for various platforms, multiple form factors, and uploading apps to the different stores are more intensive than building and testing mobile websites for various browsers. And, coding for mobile apps requires a more specialized skill-set than coding for mobile websites.

What is a mobile website?

A mobile website is similar to any other website. Like other websites, mobile websites can display text, data, images, and video. The only difference lies in the design built for smaller, handheld screens. They can be accessed using any mobile device’s web browser, like Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android. When users access your URL, your website automatically detects the mobile device and redirects the viewer to your website’s mobile version.

What is a mobile app?

How digital transformation can grow your business?

A mobile app must be installed, rather than being rendered within a browser. A mobile app is typically downloaded from an app marketplace, such as Apple’s App Store or Android’s Google Play store. The app may pull data from the Internet in a similar fashion to a website, or it may download the content to be accessed without an Internet connection.

Questions to ask before you pick a mobile website or mobile app?

1. Accessibility  

Mobile websites make regular websites more accessible for mobile users when using a browser like Chrome or Safari. It is essential to create a mobile-friendly layout to ensure readability and functionality when viewed on smartphones or tablets.  A mobile app is more accessible to access than a mobile website; it’s just a tap away. An app requires download and installation before you can use it. Mobile apps are downloaded depending on the tablet or smartphone’s operating system.

2. Offline usability  

Mobile website has limited accessibility in offline mode. You should design and develop the mobile site to load quickly even over slow connections in an online way.  Enterprises can have their spot on a customer’s device with a mobile app. You have more control over their presence on a device than they would with a mobile website. Depending on the app, the accessibility might range from no functionality available offline to full functionality possible in offline mode.

3. Advanced features

Websites, whether for mobile or not, have already matured enough to handle many advanced features like geo-targeting, personalization, etc. Unique features like m-Commerce, loyalty programs, geo-targeted push notifications, gathering data about user’s behaviors, etc. are standard use cases for an advanced mobile app. For advanced features like these, it is best to go with the mobile app as the environment is more hospitable.

4. Purpose/Goal  

If your enterprise is trying to disseminate information only, building a mobile website might be the route to take. If your enterprise has a particular purpose and needs that cannot be accomplished via a web browser, building a mobile app is probably the route to take.

5. Interactivity  

HTML5 makes it possible for mobile websites to be very interactive.  Despite the leaps and bounds made in HTML5, mobile apps still present a higher and more sophisticated interactivity level.

6. Time and cost to build & publish

Mobile website development and testing are relatively easy and cheaper for multiple browsers. However, you have to ensure that your dev team doesn’t just dump the existing mobile website. Mobile websites must be treated as the first step to your mobile strategy. 

Publishing a mobile website is a relatively easy and straightforward process.

Mobile apps have to be built to be compatible with multiple OS’s. So, the lifecycle of building an app is longer and more complicated. Depending on functionality and usability, building a mobile app might vary, but will generally cost more than the mobile web counterpart. 

Publishing mobile apps on multiple stores (Windows, Android, Apple, etc.) is a more involved process.

7. Branding  

A mobile website is an extension of your enterprise’s website.  A mobile app is owning a piece of real-estate on your user’s smartphone or tablet.

 8. Customization and Personalization

With geo-targeting and user-logins, it is possible to customize and personalize on mobile websites. But, not to the same extent of customization and personalization that can be enabled via mobile apps.  Both customization and personalization are more comfortable to do with mobile apps. The app itself can be customized and personalized for different users based on their behavior. Also, users have more power with an app to personalize their experience.  

In case you’re not ready to dive into a mobile app yet, try building a mobile website to conceptualize, build, test, and learn about the kind of presence you want your enterprise to have in the mobile world.

Contact us to discuss whether a mobile app or a mobile website is the right fit for your enterprise’s mobile strategy.

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