In this essay, we will try to give an unbiased review of the arguments that we have deduced for ourselves by trial and attempts to reach the best method of development, as much as possible. It will be arguments, which, we hope, will help you decide which platform you should choose in development projects: mobile app or mobile website. And in the end - we will try to systematize the writing, so it can be easily used in the future.
For whom this article will be useful? If you are an aspiring startup or already established business (though perhaps you are a company that is trying to understand how the things go or just maybe want to convert the mobile site to app), then this article fits the bill - you will find a vast deal of useful information here.
Read also: native vs cross platform app development
Where it starts
In order to fully immerse into the subject and come to an understanding of the issue globally, let's think about why we start thinking about such things?
The trend is that the number of mobile users (people who surf sites using smartphones or tablets) on various resources grows geometrically - ie there are more and more new users daily. This means that most of your site's or service audience now comes to with a portable device.
This is where the question arises: what to do, to please the audience, so that everyone feels comfortable - both desktop and mobile users? Create a native mobile application, or take a course on the mobile web?
This contributes to the popularization and accessibility of smartphones, mobile Internet, and public wi-fi. But do not ignore the modern pace of life, which doesn’t let get you bored. So today, for many people, it's easier and more convenient to go online from mobile devices.
App vs mobile site: how to choose
It is important to remember that there is no ideal solution for all appearing questions. Like this - both methods have advantages and disadvantages and are used to achieve certain goals. Speaking about the relevance, it is worth noting that these decisions will be a trend in the near future, and in it would be not entirely correct to oppose one another because both solutions have their right to exist and are covering different tasks.
Today it is assumed that there are two ways to build custom implementation of the project: to design native application or mobile website. Each of the aforementioned approaches of site or service optimization has both pros and cons, therefore, it is extremely important to carefully analyze them to choose the best option for the task at hand.
For example, mobile website can only provide users with relevant content in a more convenient way for mobile use, while the overall functionality of both versions of the site can either be the same or different. But the native business mobile application can perform completely independent tasks, which may differ from the functionality and design of the site.
For ease of understanding, let us assume that a mobile website is a specialized site, adapted or designed for viewing and use on your mobile device. The site may include interactive components using different frameworks or different browser integrations. Such implementation is called the web application. To avoid confusion, we will assume that any option that runs through the mobile browser is a mobile website.
And, within this article, let's think that the development under any of the existing mobile operating systems - is a mobile application.
Looking at the provided facts, the first conclusions suggest themselves. Namely, if it's necessary to "share" ready-made functionality of the service without changing it, but merely adapt it for mobile users, then you should choose the best mobile version. Conversely, if a particular content is required, or in some extended functions, it is necessary to look towards the mobile application. Simple, right? Let's proceed to another cases.
Read also: how much does it cost to design an app?
Pros and cons of mobile website vs app
Since we dealt with the "formal" issues, let's look at some pros and cons, which also affect the choice of one option and may significantly outweigh some of the opposite arguments.
• Development (design) complexity
Both options can be difficult to develop, it all depends on the desired result, the level of quality of the product and the required functions. But often mobile website development is easier and faster (though it has limited features) while app development requires several versions for each platform and therefore has higher cost.
• Maintenance and support
We can say that at this point the advantage is on the mobile site's side because the support and application update requires more time and testing resources. But again, it all depends on the individual case.
And here the application wins unconditionally. Mobile website doesn’t have any OS ecosystem rules while apps can operate system’s built-in features and hardware. If you need to perform any action with user's device hardware (GPS, NFC, camera etc), the clear choice is to develop a native application.
The mobile version of your website can be accessed (and probably already focused) for existing and future users because it requires no installation. What cannot be said about the application. On the other hand, users find apps safer that websites, due to app store approval rules.
Summarizing all the above, we present a small table where you can quickly peek some of these points, for quick decision-making, or weighing the facts.
Read also: how to market an app?
How to choose between mobile app and mobile site
Coming a long way from the beginning to the end of the article, you probably already have identified the difference between these two types of representation services for mobile users for yourself. We agree that the issue is rather complex and ambiguous since the final choice may depend on many factors and there is a huge number of followers of both mobile applications and mobile websites.
On the scale there are ease of use, the price of development and support, and perhaps most importantly in this all - audiences exposure and attraction. Thus, it is necessary to understand what the purpose is, what might you put in the first place, and what - next. And if the audience can be simply analyzed with statistics of visits, geographic location, age limits and time of the activity, the rest is a quite difficult choice and may cost many hours of calculations.
If you want to know our opinion, we choose both options, because such alliance can get the best result. Well, if you cannot decide, and you have a lot of questions, you can always ask us. We are happy to help you make an informed decision!