Monday, March 20, 2017

What’s the Difference between a Mobile Website and an App?

People now a days are accessing the web through their mobiles and portable devices therefore all businesses are developing a mobile website, or what we call a responsive website (that opens well on all mobile devices) and/or they develop their own mobile applications.
In this article, we will discuss the difference between a mobile website and a mobile application, and which one to choose for your business.

What is a mobile website?
A mobile website is designed for the smaller screens and touch-screen capabilities. It can be accessed using any mobile device's Web browser. User’s type in the URL or click on a link to open your website. 

Like any website, mobile websites can display text content, data, images and video. They can also access mobile-specific features such as to dial a phone number or location-based mapping.

What is a mobile app?
A mobile app is a smartphone or tablet application. A mobile app must be downloaded and installed from an app marketplace (Apple Store or Play store).

Which is Better – an App or a Mobile (Responsive) Website?
When it comes to deciding whether to build a native app or a mobile website, the most appropriate choice depends on your end goals. If you are developing an interactive game an app is going to be your best option. But if your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to the widest possible audience then a mobile website is probably the way to go.

Advantages of a Mobile Website vs. Native Apps
If your goals are related to marketing or public communications, a mobile website is almost always going to make sense as a first step in your mobile strategy, because a mobile website has a number of advantages over apps, including broader accessibility, compatibility & cost-effectiveness.

  Ø Mobile Websites Are Instantly Available:
A mobile website is instantly accessible to users via a browser across a range of devices (iPhone, Android, etc). Apps on the other hand require the user to first download/install the app from an app marketplace.

  Ø Mobile Websites are Compatible Across Devices:
A single mobile website can reach users across many different types of mobile devices. Native apps require a separate version to be developed for each type of device.

  Ø Mobile Websites Can Be Updated Instantly:
A mobile website is much more dynamic than an app. If you want to change the design, content of a mobile website you simply publish the edit and the changes are immediately visible while the app should be done thru updating the app on each type of device.

  Ø Mobile Websites Can be Found Easily:
Mobile websites are much easier for users to find because their pages can be displayed in search results and listed in industry-specific directories. In contrast, the visibility of apps are largely restricted to manufacturer app stores.

  Ø Mobile Websites Can be Shared Easily by Publishers, and Between Users:
Mobile website URLs are easily shared between users via a link. Publishers can easily direct users to a mobile website. An app cannot be shared in this fashion.

  Ø Mobile Websites Can’t be Deleted:
The average shelf-life of an app is pretty short, so unless your app is something truly unique and/or useful, it’s questionable how long it will last on a user’s device. Mobile websites on the other hand are always available for users to return to them.

  Ø Check a Mobile Website Can be an App:
Mobile websites can be developed as database-driven web applications that act very much like native apps.

  Ø Mobile Websites are Easier and Less Expensive:
Mobile website development is considerably more time and cost-effective than development of a native app (presence on different platforms)

  Ø Check Support and Maintenance:
Supporting and maintaining an app (upgrades, testing, compatibility issues and ongoing development) is much more expensive than supporting a website.

When Does an App Make Sense?
If you need one of the following, an app makes sense:

  Ø Interactivity/Gaming – for interactive games an app is almost always going to be your best choice.

  Ø Regular Usage – If your target users are going to be using your app in a personalized fashion on a regular basis then an app provides a great way to do that.

  Ø Complex Calculations or Reporting – If you need something that will take data and allow you to manipulate it with complex calculations, charts or reports (think banking or investment) an app will help you do that.

  Ø Native Functionality or Processing required - mobile web browsers are getting increasingly good at accessing certain mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call, SMS and GPS. If you need to access a user's camera or processing power an app will still do that much more effectively.

  Ø No connection required – If you need to provide offline access to content or perform functions without a wireless connection then an app makes sense.

In Conclusion
If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily maintained, shared between users, and found on search engines, then a mobile-friendly responsive website is the logical choice.
If your goal is to provide a user experience that feels more like a gaming interface or a computer program than a website, or if you need access to a user's phone storage and native functions, then an app is probably going to be required.

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