Choosing between mobile web vs mobile app: the pros and cons of each
Mobile continues to remain the dominant device for the majority of people so companies target mobile users more than ever. Businesses understand that mobile is the best way to directly reach the user at any desired time and interact with customers with no intermediaries in between. Hence, businesses that are not yet adapted for mobile might find themselves at risk of losing a significant share of users and conversions.
A dilemma that every business owner faces when considering transitioning to mobile is whether to go the extra mile and design a mobile application or simply adapt a website for mobile. Though many people consider mobile applications to be superior to websites, in fact, the choice depends solely on one’s business goals. Let’s have a look at each option and the benefits that it brings.
Mobile website: compatible and SEO-friendly
A mobile website is a responsive website that is adapted for mobile and consists of HTML pages. The mobile website displays content differently from the desktop version and is specifically designed to work seamlessly on devices with relatively small screen size.
Considering the growing number of mobile users, it is safe to say that a mobile website is more of a necessity rather than a “nice-to-have” option. Users spend more time on their mobile devices rather than on desktop devices and they may want to search for your website at any moment. In this case, the mobile is the only way they will be able to reach your website.
As well, do not forget about mobile-first indexing, rolled out by Google in 2018. This approach means that from now on, Google uses the mobile version of a site as a primary version for ranking and indexing and the desktop version becomes a secondary one. It is important to understand though that this is not a “mobile-only” approach. That means, if a website does not have a mobile version, Google will rank and index its desktop version only.
With this in mind, we highly recommend any business to adapt their website for mobile - and here are a few more reasons for doing so.
1. Broad reach
A mobile website can run on any device and any platform - and that means, it can reach a great number of users. In addition, users have to perform a minimal amount of actions to land on a mobile website while a mobile app demands not only search but also download.
If one user wants to share the content of a website with the other, he can easily copy the site’s URL and send the link by a preferred method. Though seemingly minor, this is actually a big benefit of a mobile website. In this way, your brand can attract new customers and gain more awareness and visibility with zero effort from your side.
3. Easy updating and fixing
When there is any sort of maintenance going on a mobile website, the user will not even notice it, which is a big plus. As well, maintenance and support of a mobile website are very cost-efficient if compared to the maintenance of a mobile app.
The pitfalls of mobile website to keep in mind
Though bringing numerous benefits to a business, the features of a mobile website are limited to a certain extent. Here are the main points of concern:
Works only with the Internet connection: a mobile website works only in the online mode which may be inconvenient in many cases.
Limited access to the native features of a device: a mobile website cannot access some of the device’s features.
Limited personalization: a mobile website cannot be branded as much as a mobile application.
Inconvenient navigation and mediocre user experience: even though mobile websites are specifically adapted to mobile, users may still experience issues with navigation and touch screen.
Mobile app: converting and personalized
While a mobile website is a regular website adapted for mobile, a mobile app for business is a separate entity designed to deliver superior user experience, enhance a company’s branding and increase conversions.
The main reasons why a business needs a mobile application include:
Immediate and direct contact with a user through notifications,
Opportunity to timely inform the user as soon as any important information (sale, discounts, etc.) is available,
An option to better engage a user through gamification and/or personalization.
In general, mobile applications present the content in a more interactive and engaging manner than mobile websites, which has a positive impact on conversions. Below are a few more benefits of a mobile application for your business.
1. Work in offline mode
The greatest advantage of a mobile app over a mobile website is that the application can efficiently function with no Internet connection. While a user will not be able to complete a transaction in the offline mode, he will still be able to access certain information and interact with the brand while a website cannot be accessed at all in the offline mode.
2. Full use of device features
Mobile applications make full use of the device’s native features such as email, camera, GPS, calendar, etc. In this way, the app for business becomes more entertaining, facilitates some of the actions taken by the user (i.e. document submission via a photo upload), and overall becomes capable of providing a more personalized experience.
3. Fast and smooth performance
4. Variety of design options
While you cannot really do much to a website in terms of design, mobile applications grant companies a great opportunity to create a unique design that will represent a specific brand and look and perform exactly in the needed way.
As well, a mobile application can have unique navigation (swiping, dragging, etc.), various interactive elements, integrated technologies such as virtual reality, and other features that contribute to better and delightful user experience.
Choosing between a mobile website and a mobile application - why not both?
While some entrepreneurs try to choose between a mobile website and a mobile application, it is actually not correct to compare them since they serve different goals.
Mobile websites facilitate navigation for mobile users and contribute to the site’s indexing and ranking. Mobile websites also increase the brand’s visibility and provide a user-friendly experience for the customers who want to browse the company’s site from their mobile devices.
Mobile applications, in turn, bring additional value to the users (discounts, reward points, extra information about the company and its products). With the help of a mobile application, companies can always keep their clients informed about the latest offers, engage them in a more efficient manner and ensure that the message is delivered directly to a user. In this way, mobile applications significantly contribute to the number of conversions and customer engagement and should definitely be taken into consideration.
To sum up, we strongly recommend any business to adapt its website to mobile in order not to lose potential customers and retain a high ranking in search engines. As for developing a mobile application, this option is not obligatory and should be approached in a well-planned manner, with a business plan and clearly defined business goals upfront.