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The benefits of an app vs. a mobile website

A recent survey conducted by Compuware has shown that 85% of consumers favour apps over mobile websites due to convenience, speed and ease of use. However, when it comes to deciding which is better for your business, it’s important to make sure that you to weigh up the pros and cons based on your specific requirements. 

Determining if you should opt for a mobile app or website and working out which is most suited to your needs will depend upon a number of factors, including target audiences, available budget, intended purpose and required features.

The main benefit of developing a mobile app versus a mobile friendly website is that by developing a mobile app in native code, you can embrace the native functionality or the hardware of the phone. For example, most smartphones have built in accelerometers, cameras, GPS and gyroscopes.

Secondly, while a mobile friendly website will always require an internet connection with an app, this is not always the case. Many apps can store data locally on the phone, and you can continue interacting with them even when no connections are available.

The Daily Mail app is a good example, whereby when the user opens the app, it will look to connect to the internet to download all of the updated stories, all related images for use offline and will notify the user when this is complete. They then effectively have today's newspaper downloaded onto their phone. It is this content that will remain on the app until it is next 'synced' to the internet.

It’s becoming increasingly easy to develop mobile apps too because the major operating systems offer developers free frameworks and development tools to get started with app development. However, there are also certain cases when building a mobile website may be a better solution.

When developing an app, you need to consider each platform on which you want to make it available, driving up development and maintenance costs. Whereas with a mobile website, there is only one version of your website you need to maintain. Some companies may also find that their websites are gaining a lot of traffic from mobile devices, giving a mobile website solution a priority over an app.

Another important element to consider as part of your mobile strategy, once you have decided on an app, mobile website, or potentially both, is that you will need a firm plan in place of how you intend to effectively drive traffic to your mobile website or app. This is particularly important if you intend to utilise the mobile channel to open up new revenue streams or to enhance your brand loyalty initiatives.

Mobile apps and mobile websites have their similarities and differences; companies looking to take advantage of the mobile boom need to consider how each solution will help them reach their business goals. Preparing before you take your business mobile will help ensure the route you take will be the right one.