Today, we can safely say that mobile devices rule the world since, according to research, more than 5 billion people have a mobile phone at their disposal.
Such a huge audience needs high-quality mobile applications for everyday tasks, work, and just for fun.
Nevertheless, a mobile app is a rather expensive thing, and many companies, due to lack of resources, choose a cheaper option, namely the creation of a mobile website.
If you are reading this article, then you are looking to pick the right solution for your business: a mobile app or a mobile website? Today, I will talk about the strengths and weaknesses of these two technologies. Let’s get started.
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What is the difference between a mobile app and mobile website?
Before we start delving into the nuances, it is worth discussing the main differences between these two technologies.
Mobile websites are a fairly cheap way to provide users with content. However, the first major difference you’ll notice is your internet connection. Connectivity is essential for interacting with a website, and without it, it becomes useless. In addition, another difference lies in the financial plane. Creating a separate app is an expensive process, and if you have limited resources, a website can save you as it is cheaper to develop.
Mobile apps are fully-fledged and multifunctional software made for mobile platforms. All apps are distributed in the official platform stores, and users can install them on their mobile devices. Apps outperform websites with their broader functionality, which provides users with content and allows them to perform certain operations. However, you pay a higher creation price tag for functionality.
Strengths of mobile websites
Nowadays, having a website optimized for mobile devices is already a must if you want to expand your audience and grow. And this is not surprising, because according to analysts, the share of mobile traffic is 52%, and every year there is a trend of stable growth. So let’s take a look at the main benefits of such websites.
Take a look at this benefit from the user’s perspective. Mobile websites are extremely convenient because they can be launched regardless of the type of mobile device, operating system, etc. This makes websites an extremely convenient tool for capturing a wide audience. All users need is a stable internet connection and a favorite browser, and they are ready to use your website. In addition, users don’t need to install anything, and your site is available with a couple of clicks in the browser.
Ease of Updating
Updating is another perk of websites since you decide when the website needs an update, and as soon as it is ready, you can immediately roll it out live. Users will see the updated items as soon as they reload the page. This distinguishes websites from applications, where each update must be verified by the platform (which, by the way, can take from a couple of days to a week).
If you want to attract more customers and visitors, you simply have to take advantage of search engine traffic. SEO helps your website rank higher in search results for a variety of keywords. You directly affect how often your website is visible in search, while mobile applications are deprived of such an opportunity for convenient promotion.
When creating an app for a particular platform, you must hire separate specialists for each platform. In addition, the development of two mobile applications for iOS and Android is extremely costly. On the other hand, while creating a website, you have one code part that will work in all browsers, bringing significant cost savings.
Weaknesses of mobile websites
Now it’s time to talk about the disadvantages of mobile websites that you should know about.
Internet Access is Obligatory
A stable connection is crucial since the website becomes completely useless without it. You can only view the previously cached pages, but further interaction with the website is impossible.
Mobile websites are extremely limited in their capabilities to interact with the mobile devices on which they open. For example, mobile websites on iOS cannot use notifications and can’t interact with Siri, while on Android, they do not have integration with the built-in calendar and telephony.
Poor User Experience
The cheapness of mobile websites and the technical limitations of browsers lead to a rather weak user experience that you can provide to your customers with a mobile website. Meanwhile, mobile applications are polished mobile products that use all the device’s technical capabilities and are sharpened for flawless operation on one platform, which makes the user experience much more pleasant.
Strengths of mobile apps
Mobile apps are a very useful business tool. Research shows that users spend almost 3 hours using mobile apps daily. So now it’s time to delve deeper into the topic.
The possibilities of mobile devices give developers an endless field for imagination and implementation of all kinds of features. You can use mobile device cameras, gyroscopes, accelerometers, and other hardware capabilities of devices to implement your ideas. This greatly expands the overall range of features and capabilities of mobile applications compared with mobile websites.
Rich User Experience
Mobile applications are initially developed taking into account the peculiarities of mobile platforms, which allows for a pleasant UI/UX, which provides simple navigation and planned animations. Together, this creates an enjoyable user experience.
Independence from an Internet connection also plays into the hands of mobile applications because your users are not tied to an Internet connection and can use the application anytime, anywhere.
Easier Brand Promotion
Mobile apps are a great brand promotion tool as you have various ways to interact with the user. For example, you can use push notifications to inform the user about special offers or discounts. Or connect the app’s capabilities to the real world, like scanning QR codes to download help or FAQ about services. All this has a positive effect on brand advertising.
Weaknesses of mobile apps
Nothing is perfect in this world and mobile apps also have drawbacks worth talking about.
Mobile app development is not cheap, especially if you want to reach the maximum audience. To do this, you need to develop two separate applications for iOS and Android, which doubles both creation time and the final paycheck.
In order for your applications to remain relevant, you must support them with timely updates that will add new features, improve old ones and fix various bugs. However, you will need to hire app developers who will do this on an ongoing basis, which is also not cheap. In addition, creating an update for an app is much more costly in terms of time and money.
Long Approval Process
Any mobile application undergoes a rigorous verification process for compliance with the platform’s rules. On iOS, for example, the application is checked for compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. If your application doesn’t coincide with the guidelines, it is rejected without explaining a specific reason. On Android, everything is a little simpler since the verification itself can take about seven days. However, if the guidelines are violated, you will be shown what specifically doesn’t comply with the rules and what should be corrected.
As you can see, mobile apps and mobile websites have their pros and cons and are suitable for different situations. Mobile websites are great if you are on a budget and want to start promoting your services faster. A mobile application will suit you if you have sufficient resources to develop and maintain them.
Guest author: Vitaly Kuprenko is a technical writer at Cleveroad, a web and mobile app development company in Ukraine. He enjoys writing about tech innovations and digital ways to boost businesses.