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Mobile Apps vs Mobile Websites: Which is better?

Is it better to invest time and money in making your website mobile friendly, or is it better to create an application?

As the use of mobile phones continues to grow, the way in which we consume mobile content falls into two camps; mobile websites and mobile apps. But what is the difference? And which should we, as business, marketers or developers, be looking to use as we move into the mobile web?

Mobile websites vs mobile apps infographic
Mobile websites vs mobile apps infographic

Mobile Websites

Generally speaking, mobile websites are the cheaper option for businesses moving into mobile. However, simply streamlining your desktop content and putting it into a smartphone format isn’t enough to really engage the end user; good mobile websites will utilise added functionality, such as pinch-and-zoom, and a restructured navigation to provide an optimised, bespoke mobile experience. Examples worth looking at include the NSPCC and Google’s mobile homepage.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are typically the more expensive option, both in terms of set up and maintenance cost, and for that reason charities must ensure their offering is suitable to an app to get the best return on investment.

The most successful mobile apps are those which provide a practical use, such as a navigation tool or a recipe finder. Other successful mobile apps are highly customisable and interactive; these apps work because they integrate software on the user’s handset and provide them with a personalised experience they can return to again and again. Good apps will also be recommended by users to their friends and, through this, provide an excellent opportunity for brand building.

There’s no need to rush in…

Mobile phones continue to grow in popularity every day, with users increasingly making use of mobile websites and apps; that means they’re not going anywhere fast and there’s no need to rush into a mobile presence.

By taking the time to consider a long term mobile strategy, businesses can not only refine their offering to provide a better experience for their audience, but also give staff and supporters time to better understand the benefits of mobile and how it can work for them.

0 replies on “Mobile Apps vs Mobile Websites: Which is better?”

What a great article Laura!

I see the dilemma in hand, and the image is a very good summary of the pros and cons.

If you have the capital, why not make your site mobile friendly and create an app!

If you use WordPress, ‘WPtouch’ is a great plugin which can turn your site into a mobile friendly one for you!

Thanks for a great article, I am sure more comments will be on the way soon 🙂
Christopher – Admin Team

Though in general, a picture explains a thousand words, but it does not to every case. However, the image in this post basically explains everything about the title. It is beautiful and resourceful. Last but not least, it explains the comparison of Mobile Website and Mobile Apps straight to the point.

Agreed.

Making it a good article – the picture says it all, the text adds to it, expands on it, and evaluates it.

Bravo Laura 😉

Mobile apps are great to have, but how many of us can afford them? I personally have yet to see a blogger use a mobile app.
Sure, big companies have them, but they’re don’t really care about the money.
For us, normal people, mobile websites are still the way to go i’m afraid.

Okay Christopher I have some advice for anybody who has this question in their mind right now.

First of all, and although I’m a successful Blogger, I am also an online marketing manager and help develop mobile sites. When clients come to us (the company I work for) they don’t know mobile apps from mobile sites, and the advice I increasingly print in to their mind is this; you simply must get your website mobile friendly before you even contemplate an app. Babies crawl first and so should blog’s or businesses.

Now, making your website mobile friendly is a whole lot easier and a whole lot more widely used than an app. Take for example feature phones which have 3G, these do not have app stores but in fact only allow you to access mobile sites. Guess which handsets are sold the most world wide between feature phones with no app store and smartphones? Well that’ll be feature phones although this trend I’m sure will end, or a blur will happen between what a feature phone and a smartphone is. When you have your mobile site you can sit and watch whether it converts well through Google Analytics and if it doesn’t, then 99% of the time an app isn’t going to interest anybody.

In terms of what Bloggers can do to make their website mobile friendly I recommend they check out similar main stream niche websites and see if they have a mobile site, this is the point where you should take notes such as; This is an e-commerce site just like mine, and they use a search bar at the top and a list of popular products below as their home page, which is a good idea, I should do that on my site.

Regarding your main question and coming back to your article neither a mobile site nor an app is better than another because they both work together to convert people who use different devices (phones / tablets that have an app store and those with just 3G). I recommend sorting your mobile site out to see if it works before you bother with an app.

Thanks for the detailed reply Jakk, it’s a real ‘eye opener’ and is very useful to know!

Just FYI you can see the author of each article at the bottom of the content, just below the share buttons. If you look at this article, Laura is actually the author and not me, but I am sure she will take on board what you have said too 😛

Base on the reviews, the mobile app is better than the mobile web. There are so many flaws with the mobile web even though you can use internet on it. And there is also a possibility that it can be easily inflicted by a virus and it will harm the whole information. That would be dissatisfying in the part of the user.

I’m not a fan of mobile websites, because the developer tends to stick advertisements around it so it can be monetised. I’d rather just buy an app, personally! And that way, you can use it whenever you want without the webmaster taking it down unexpectedly.

A good value judgement there James 🙂

Thanks for adding a comment and becoming part of the community!
Christopher – Admin Team

I have personal experience that mobile websites are more efficient and convenient for a business rather than an App. That is because, a website can be easily mold into a mobile website without investing more at it. Whereas in Mobile Apps, it have permanent cost to let it healthier.

Thanks Christopher, will do so. I confess to leaving this comment on my iPhone and your site looks amazing with the WPTouch plugin you’re using.

I recently installed BuddyPress and the iPhone equivalent plugin too and also loving how that plugin renders WordPress on my device of choice.

For any online entrepreneur, this is the cost effective way to get at those burgeoning mobile users for no upfront costs.

I hear some rumors of free apps that will convert a WordPress site into an App that you submit to Apple for inclusion into their store. And that must be the holy grail of any small upstart 🙂

“Thanks Christopher, will do so. I confess to leaving this comment on my iPhone and your site looks amazing with the WPTouch plugin you’re using.” – oh really? Any chance of a screeenshot?

Hi everyone,

Many apologies for my delayed response – I’ve been out on annual leave but it’s great to see so much feedback to our mobile websites vs mobile apps blog.

It certainly is a decision which must come down to both the budget and objectives of the business combined with the needs and behaviours of the target audience.

I look forward to seeing more of your comments! You can see more of what I’ve got to say coming up on here and also at http://www.zabisco.com/blog

Very interesting article Laura, and great inforgaphic. I agree that the decision for which to use should be based on both user satisfaction and the requirements a business may have that might influence whether they choose an optimised site or a native app.

I also think that many companies do not think this through.
Our recent post also investigates these ideas further http://goo.gl/1JEbV

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