Mobile apps and mobile websites are both part of the mobile revolution. The chances are you come into contact with multiple apps and websites on a daily basis. But you’ve probably wondered what customers actually prefer when they have to make a choice between the two.
The decision is important and there are significant differences between the two. What works for one business won’t work for another business.
What’s the Difference?
A mobile website is simply a website that has been infused with responsive design. You can only access it online and it will automatically adjust based on whatever device you happen to be accessing it from. A mobile website is almost the exact same experience you would expect from a desktop website.
An app, on the other hand, is a separate piece of software that you have to download. It’s often the case where you can access the app without being connected to the Internet. Apps tend to have far more functions and take up more space on your mobile device because you are physically downloading something.
The Importance of the Barrier
Whenever you want a customer to do something, you have to make it as easy as possible for them. In most cases, this is about reducing the number of steps needed to get to a certain point. For example, to make a purchase you may condense all information onto one page to reduce the number of pages a customer has to click through.
Mobile websites can be accessed from absolutely anywhere at the click of a button. Apps, on the other hand, have to be downloaded. This provides a barrier. Although the user experience is entirely difference once they have the app, actually getting them to download it is another issue entirely.
When you get experts to work on your app, you will notice one significant difference. What the user can do with their app differs from what they can do with a mobile website. A website is just a website. You define what happens and that’s that.
An app allows you to customize the user experience. Your customer has the option to make everything how they want it.
You no longer have to worry about whether a customer will like something because if they don’t they can change it themselves. You are putting the power in the hands of your target audience.
Apps are always more interactive. There’s a reason why everyone plays games using a mobile app instead of directly from a website. This is because it’s extremely difficult to be interactive with a mobile website. The speed at which you can get specific functions done depends entirely on your Internet connection.
On the other hand, an app has a firm design in mind. It’s designed to accomplish the task at hand. Mobile processors are also getting extremely effective at managing power-heavy tasks. This has negated the need for doing everything on a website.
If you are producing anything interactive, it’s always a wise idea to opt for the app over the website.
What about Cost?
A mobile app can be a paid app, if you want it to. This can add an additional stream of income. But most customers have come to expect their apps to be free, unless it accomplishes a specialized task.
From a business point of view, an app can be quite an investment. You have to remember that you have to employ the developer, test the app, and maintain it. This isn’t the right move for all businesses.
Mobile websites, on the other hand, often happen without any input on your part because the vast majority of website themes have responsive design already built-in.
So What’s the Better Option?
The best option is the one that meets the needs of your target audience. If you don’t have any specific app ideas in mind, or you don’t need to do anything interactive, you may not need an app. A mobile website will suffice.
But a mobile app is always good to have because it gives your brand an additional touch point. It also enables you to stay connected when a customer is offline.