Now that you’ve decided to embrace the mobile world with your company’s offerings, an important consideration is whether you want to create a mobile website or app. While the best option is often both, some companies may not have the time or financial abilities to do both. In such cases, it can help to know how to choose the right option.
The Difference between a Mobile Website and App
Before evaluating the benefits of a mobile website over an app, you need to understand the fundamental differences between the two. A mobile website is just like any other website in the sense that it contains browser-based HTML pages linked together and accessed over the Internet. The main difference between a mobile and standard website is that a mobile site is designed to work optimally in the smaller form for mobile devices – tablets, smartphones and feature phones – and isn’t just a miniaturized version of a full-size website.
Apps are downloaded and installed on your mobile device. While a mobile site always loads its data from the Internet, some apps (like games) can operate offline. However most apps (like news and search) need to be connected to the Internet to function.
A Mobile Website Caters to the Widest Audience
One area in which the mobile website really shines is in its ability to offer mobile-friendly content to the widest possible audience. Generally, a mobile website should be your first step in creating a mobile Web presence, whereas an app is more appropriate for a very specific purpose. A mobile site is also the best option if your goals are related to marketing or public communications in any way, because mobile sites offer broader accessibility, compatibility, and are more cost-effective.
A Mobile Website Is Available Immediately
Another benefit that a mobile website offers over an app is that it is instantly accessible to users across a wide range of devices, some of which include iOS, Android, and BlackBerry platforms. Conversely, apps require users to first download and install them before viewing the content, which can prove to be a significant barrier between initial user engagement and action.
A Mobile Website Is Compatible across Devices
Another area where the mobile website really takes center stage is in its ability to reach users across a wide variety of mobile devices, whereas apps require a separate version to be developed for each type of device. Furthermore, it is easy to integrate mobile website URLs with other mobile technologies like SMS, QR codes, and near field communication (NFC).
A Mobile Website Is Easy to Update
When it comes to the pure flexibility to update content, a mobile website is superior to an app, as it enables you to change the design or content easily. Unlike an app that requires you to push updates to users, who must then download these updates, a mobile site allows you to publish the edits once.
Catering your business to mobile users is imperative in the current market, especially considering that more and more users are doing their searching on the go as they switch to smartphones. A good mobile website not only allows you to engage your audience across a wide variety of platforms, but also makes it easy for your target audience to find you.