According to recent research, 71% of American internet traffic comes from a mobile phone or tablet. Other countries do not lag behind that indicator. Up to 90% of users in Canada, Spain, Indonesia, and other developed countries use mobile gadgets to surf the net. Given the market situation, online business owners realize they need to pay close attention to the mobile audience. But which is the best way? Adapt a site for mobile devices or create an app? There is no clear-cut answer because the choice depends on the goals you follow and the resources you have. In this article, we will consider what a mobile site and a mobile app are. We will also find out which option suits you best.
What is the mobile site? What is a mobile app?
A mobile application is a specially developed program for a particular mobile platform (iOS or Android). It can be made with cross-platform or native technologies. The latter is thought to be more efficient and give the highest performance. Yet, different app parts serve various purposes, so developers often use the combination of two to achieve the most effective result.
Mobile site benefits
A mobile site is relatively easy to build, quick to launch, and simple to maintain. Let’s take a closer look at what benefits you will get from developing a mobile website.
A much larger number of users visit the site because no extra moves are required. By contrast, the app should be installed, which may be annoying for customers. According to the statistics, 400K apps in the App Store have never been downloaded ever. So, if you decide on the app, make sure people have good reasons to use it.
Ease of updating
The site is easy to update, and all changes will be immediately available to the users. It doesn’t work that way with an app. In most cases, updates are added to the new app version. After the release, it takes some time until the app store representatives check them, and only then do they appear to users.
The site looks good on all devices, regardless of the mobile platform – iOS or Android. But the app is to be developed separately for each. Different technologies, different skills, different specialists – get ready for double costs if you want to launch a high-quality product.
If you want to share the information with potential clients, you can give them a website link. Just by clicking it, the users have a full picture of your business activity and the kind of product you offer. You can also share the link on social media, blogs, chats, etc. The apps are less versatile in this sense and cannot be accessed so readily.
Always on hand
Unlike an app, a site cannot be deleted. It is always available via the link, and a client can visit it at any time. If the user is bored with the app, they will delete it sooner or later. There are low chances they will install it again.
Mobile app benefits
A mobile app is very convenient to use, always at hand, and available, even if there is no Internet connection. Let’s consider in more detail the pros of a mobile app.
With the mobile app, you can always stay in touch with users: send push notifications, communicate through in-app chat, monitor reviews in app stores. If the user does not log into the app for a long time, you can send reminders or information about significant events. This function is not available on the site.
The application works much faster than the website. Besides, it has access to all the device features, such as a camera, contacts, location, etc. In the app, you can implement the elements and actions familiar to the user, such as moving between screens and calling the menu. All this contributes to a smooth and pleasant user experience.
Any app can remember user actions and adapt some functions as per their needs. For example, when a user enters personal data: name, phone number, or shipping address, the app keeps the record and doesn’t ask it again. The user may also adjust specific settings like repeated payments or personal reminders and make sure they don’t forget an important event.
Unlike the website, a mobile app can run offline. It means the user accesses certain functions and performs particular actions at any place and time. An ongoing connection with the brand grows user trust in the company and promotes customer loyalty.
Often, sites lose out to apps in terms of the user interface because they are more cumbersome and difficult to fit into a small screen. With the app, only the information you need appears on the screen. The buttons are large enough, so you can effortlessly press the needed one.
Mobile site vs. mobile app: what to choose?
The choice of a mobile site or app depends on many things, such as marketing goals, business direction, financial capabilities, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe that works here, there, and everywhere. Below we will consider a few criteria and see what may serve better.
First of all, you need to understand why you want to develop a mobile site or app. If, for example, you are a start-up that just begins building a customer base, opt for the site. It will help you spread the word about the company and form brand awareness. For easy promotion and engine search, make sure it is technically correct, adaptable to any mobile device, and loads quickly. A great website will work for you by growing a loyal community.
When you have enough customers, think of a mobile app. The latter is often used for customer retention rather than capture. Unlike a website that you may accidentally come across on the Internet, the app must be downloaded on purpose. It is next to impossible that newcomers will do this. But regular clients who trust the brand and want to have it at hand are more likely to install the app and actively use it.
Mobile site vs. mobile app choice also depends on the field of activity. What does your company do? Retail, financial services, or game development? In the latter case, the site is not an option because the product you offer is an app itself. However, the first two will work fine under the scheme “site first – app second,” provided that you have a start-up business.
If you run a mature eCommerce store or own a large financial institution, investing in mobile development is a wise move. Modern users stay together with smartphones 24/7 and do all possible things, including shopping and paying, through mobile devices. According to Statista, 85% of Amazon and eBay users prefer making purchases through the mobile app rather than the site. Google says 73% of users use mobile apps to manage their finances. If you feel your business is ready for a new development stage, go mobile.
A mobile app is much more expensive than a website. Consider at least the fact that you need to make it twice — for iOS and Android platforms. Moreover, mobile developers are more costly than web specialists. This is due to the specific technologies and skills required. They are considered more complicated than web ones.
However, in the long run, the app can be very profitable. In most cases, it is installed by people who are ready to use your product and spend money right away. The mobile app brings a whole new user experience. It gives a free hand in everyday activities such as making purchases, transferring money, or planning a personal budget. Getting used to all the app’s bonuses, customers are using it more and more on an ongoing basis.
None of the above arguments says the mobile app is better than the site or vise versa. Both solutions have advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, in each case, a decision must be made based on the current situation. From the point of view of saving resources, the mobile site looks like a preferable option. It should also be your choice if you are in the initial stage of business development and need to attract customers’ attention. When the business goes up, you can implement mobile apps for the selected platforms. For stable companies with many loyal clients, the mobile app suits more. It builds a stronger connection with the brand and promotes increased sales.
Before making a decision, weigh the pros and cons and calculate both options. Make sure you have a clearly defined strategy and know what goals you want to achieve. If you still hesitate about the mobile site vs. mobile app decision, contact us. Our experts will advise the best option based on your business needs.