Because Technology is Complicated Enough
With the massive expansion of Apple’s App Store and the Android Market, the way we use the internet has made a major shift to the mobile industry, but is making an app the right move? Couldn’t you just develop a mobile website instead?
Well, it depends on what you need. And, the familiar debate goes something like this:
Point: Apps are easy to download, use and manage and ultimately provide for a more user-friendly functionality. Plus they are way impressive. What company doesn’t want to say, ‘Yup, we have an app for that?’
Counter Point: Mobile optimized websites are searchable by engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and are therefore more accessible to the public. And, fair to say, they tend to be less expensive to create, update and manage.
If you are in the decision making process and need help to determine the appropriate direction, here’s a list of the things you need to consider.
Apps: Well-developed apps can be very versatile for users, which in today’s age of fast-paced information is a big plus. Push notification, multitasking, and an enhanced personal experience are common themes found in good apps.
Mobile Web: Sites are restricted to HTML coding, and are simply incapable of presenting themselves in the same manner as applications.
With their complete control of the phone’s interface and ease of access, apps take the win in user experience.
Apps: Once your app has made it through the rigorous app approval system, your biggest hope for discoverability is via word of mouth, links from your online site, or making the who’s who of the most popular apps out there.
Mobile Web: Thanks to search engines like Google and Yahoo, mobile sites have a huge advantage when it comes to discoverability. Additionally, your site or product could also be easily shared via social media avenues like Twitter and Facebook. AdWhirl, a major company responsible for the ads you see in mobile apps, estimates $1875/day for in-app advertisements in order to reach the top of your category in the App Store.
Unless your app is guaranteed to be the next viral hit, a mobile site is a sound way to be discovered.
Apps: Apple and Android aren’t fully open systems, meaning your app must meet the requirements before official download is offered. Apps need to be designed to a specific phone’s platform usually incurring a phased approach to develop. Post development is app approval. A good majority of apps are approved within a week or two, but if your app is not what Apple is looking for, your app may quickly be dismissed.
Mobile Web: Mobile websites are easy to publish, less costly to develop and share a common publication format allowing all phones to read the content the same way. Development is completed in a single phase and application to all mobile phones.
Mobile websites are simply more cost effective to develop, manage and maintain.
Apps: Smart phones are an amazing development of the 21st Century. Gartner predicts that by 2015, 50% of web sales will be made via a company’s social presence or mobile applications. Many companies have taken full advantage of this new technology, producing top of the line applications, which, in turn are booming sales and proving to be a worthy investment.
Mobile Web: With the advent of HTML5 and CSS3, mobile web capabilities are becoming ever closer to those of Apps. Similar interfaces are possible, without the overhead of specific platform development and with an ease of update that is not possible with Apps.
Mobile sites are edging ever closer to Apps with regards to capabilities. This round breaks even.
Apps: If not properly created, Apps will tend to have bugs that can cause crashes and lags. And, Apps in general, tend to require more frequent updates. These updates are typically required due to bug fixes and the phone’s operating system.
Mobile Web: Performance is dependent upon the user’s coverage, as well as the processing speed of the actual site.
Performance of both depends on many variables so there is no clear winner here either. Draw.
Apps: Offline processing is the wave of the future. Having access to email, databases, and other essentials for work without needing an internet connection is becoming the norm in the app arena. Websites that don’t support some offline features of HTML5 are unable to load if no connection is present; yet, many apps provide information without the need of the Internet.
Mobile Web: While apps may seem ahead of sites on this one for sheer numbers, with the introduction HTML5, sites are capable of success here also.
Another draw – Mobile Web is capable of this now, and so Apps no longer win this point.
Apps: Once your product is out and people are using it, it is important to continue improving the product to grow a larger audience. Apps require a constant watch to ensure that things are running smoothly. If a developer isn’t listening to the complaints coming in, people move on. If the app is having issues, it needs to be updated, which means it must be approved again before download.
Mobile Web: As opposed to apps that require a new download for every update, mobile sites allow for real time change and immediate accessibility to the public.
Mobile Web wins this round due to the ease of update, upgrade and cross platform compatibility.
Apps: Due to the general application of apps across multiple mobile platforms, the development process typically takes more time and carries a higher price tag. To reach as complete an audience as possible, development is typically performed for two or three platforms, thereby doubling or tripling the price.
Mobile Web: Due to the common ground of HTML and CSS, mobile web development is available and capable for all mobile web enabled devices with little to no additional modifications. This common ground means that development only needs to be completed once for all mobile devices.
Mobile Web wins this round with a generally lower cost to build and deploy.
Mobile apps and mobile websites both have pros and cons, but one thing they do share is the vast expansion of mobile users, and the massive innovation of mobile devices. If you are still undecided about which application best suits your company, contact Web Teks. Our experts are standing by to answer your questions and develop the platform to help you meet your goals.