If you plan on establishing a mobile presence for your organization, one of the first things you should consider is whether you want to build a mobile app for users to download or a mobile site, or maybe even both.
In mobile app development, mobile sites and apps at first-glance could look much the same, and to determine which best suits your business needs would depend on several factors, such as budget, intended purpose, the target audience, and the required features.
With people across the world spending twice as much with their mobile devices to search than they do using desktops or computers, the search world is changing.
The Mobile-First Index of Google means that your site’s mobile version has become the default version that Google uses for ranking.
The way people use websites nowadays is heavily impacted by more usage of AI, voice search, and digital assistants. With the escalating dominance of mobile, and with all the changes, there’s no you need to focus on mobile. The question is, however, how do you go about it?
Mobile Platform or Mobile App—Which is Better?
A Mobile Platform
A mobile site or platform is specifically designed for mobiles. Mobile sites are designed for smaller screen sizes, for tap or touch as a method of interaction instead of using a mouse and keyboard. Compared to a desktop and different connection speeds, mobile devices have far less computing power.
Mobile content should be readily accessible, readable, and quick-loading. Since various mobile devices have different interaction types and sizes of screen, it means that even mobile sites need to have a responsive element to be able to fit any screen size. In general, mobile sites have their content organized into one column for easy access.
- A dedicated mobile site, in theory, must provide a better mobile User Experience, using both the pros and the drawbacks of a mobile device.
- Sites that are optimized particularly for mobiles have better chances of ranking higher in the local searches.
- Mobile sites must load more easily and much faster on mobile platforms.
- Mobile platforms are easier to access compared to mobile apps, in which users should first download and install the app.
- The mobile site would require its SEO, not like a responsive website that has common SEO.
- A couple of website addresses means that users must keep in mind two URLs, or will be redirected to the mobile site that slows downloading.
- Mobile sites may not be compatible with older devices. Two different kinds of mobile devices include keyboard navigation and touchscreen. A single mobile site will not look and work similarly across all kinds of devices.
- Two websites mean double maintenance.
In a mobile application development methodology, a mobile app is software developed specifically for a mobile device.
Furthermore, mobile apps are designed to work with a particular operating system or systems and uncommon across all devices. The app should be downloaded by users from a particular operating system store, such as Apple Store or Google Play, and installed on a device.
Mobile apps are flexible and provide all desktop website features, as well as mobile-specific features, such as the click-to-call buttons, camera use, contacts, GPS data or NFC, or galleries among others.
- The mobile app must provide the best available UX on mobile since it’s designed for the operating system of that device.
- The app is considerably faster in comparison to a mobile site or a responsive site.
- As soon as an app has been downloaded, it could operate even with no internet connection.
- Once the app is installed, it could be extremely visible on mobiles, remains there, and shows up with its one-of-kind icon in the applications menu.
- All updates of an app would have to be submitted and approved by the app store each time and could take several weeks. Not every user would welcome frequent updates and some prefer to remain on the older version.
- Apps are specific to a particular OS and thus could not be accessed on all devices.
- Mobile apps could be costly. It’s not only expensive to develop an app, but should be developed for three platforms at least, such as Android, Apple, and HTML5.
- Mobile apps need a separate marketing strategy and SEO to promote.
The Choice for your Business or Organization
Which is best for you – a mobile platform or a mobile app?
The choice boils down to your end goals.
A mobile app is useful when developing an app for a very specific purpose, which could not be accomplished effectively through a web browser. As the use of mobile devices continues its gigantic leap all over the world, the app versus web question remains a very true consideration for companies looking to establish a mobile presence.
When it comes to mobile app development, if your goals mainly are marketing-driven, or if your goal is to deliver content and establish a wide mobile presence that could be maintained easily, found on search engines, and shared between users, then the logical choice would be a responsive and mobile-friendly website.
If your goal however is to provide a UX that feels more like a computer program or a gaming interface than a website, or if you must access the phone storage native functions of a user, then the app is probably what you need.
In the mobile-driven world we live nowadays, the question for organizations shouldn’t be to build a mobile site or a mobile app; the question should be how you could integrate the two into an extremely effective mobile presence that will advance your marketing goals.
With a mobile site to expand the top funnel activities, like education and awareness, and a mobile app for advancing lower-funnel goals such as customer loyalty, conversion, and engagement, your business is on the competitive edge.
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