Without a doubt, mobile technology is an important platform on which to establish a presence. But for many businesses and organizations, the question about how to go mobile boils down to a decision between building an app or optimizing a mobile site. Here is a basic breakdown of how both options work.
Image from ntestechnologies.com
What’s the Difference?
Because both a mobile website and a mobile app are accessed through mobile devices such as your phone or tablet, it can be a little confusing when it comes to distinguishing between the two. The biggest difference you need to remember is that while a mobile website is accessed through an internet browser, a mobile app is actually downloaded and installed on your device. This means that it can work when your phone is offline, whereas a website requires the internet to render it on your mobile device.
With that fundamental variation out of the way, there are some other important distinctions between the two. For starters, a website accessed on your mobile device remains as limited as the same site accessed from your computer at home. The user interface is static. And because you require a connection, the speed is dependent on your Internet. The site can be accessed through normal browsing and search engines. But what sets a mobile website apart from a traditional site is that it has been optimized for the mobile experience.
A mobile app, on the other hand, proves more engaging with an interactive user interface. Apps are either purchased or downloaded for free from a digital app store. Because it is installed on your device, the program is also accessible no matter what your Internet connection is like. A mobile app also allows for the implementation of phone features. It can take advantage of your phone’s GPS location ability, camera and other functions.
The Perks of Being an App
Apps are ideal for when you need a platform that works with greater usability, much more like a computer program than a website. Some of the top reasons apps are employed
From a marketing perspective, mobile apps have a lot to offer when it comes to making an impression. Apps command more time from consumers than mobile and desktop web usage put together. Research of 56 million mobile impressions revealed that although mobile-browsers outnumber app users, app users on average end up consuming 2.4 more impressions. A great example of how this works can be found in a number of successful restaurant apps like Pizza Hut and Starbucks. These apps allow users to interact while enjoying enhanced service through the application.
When a Mobile-Optimized Site Works Well
The pros of a mobile website are also considerable. For starters, a mobile-optimized site proves much cheaper to walk through development than initially building an app. And when it is completed, you don’t have to wait for approval from the app store to which you submit it.
Another important aspect to consider is your ability to reach more people. Mobile websites are more compatible across a greater number of devices and operating systems. Because of this and the ability to access them directly through a web browser, they can reach a much wider audience.
A final aspect to think about is the cart before the horse argument. Some media experts recommend investing in a good mobile site before moving on to launch an app.
But the decision between either entering app development or mobile web optimization really weighs on what you are hoping to achieve through your mobile platform.
“Jessica Socheski is a freelance author who is currently researching amazing restaurant apps. When she’s not checking out the latest gadgets, she would love to connect with you on Google+.”