Mobile gadgets have an audience of 5+ billion users (more than half of the world) across the globe. This multitude needs to be content with the swift-handed web and mobile solutions. But not all clients can afford the development of both options simultaneously. So, they need to choose between a mobile-friendly website or a mobile app.
We’ve prepared this article for you to make an appropriate business decision. You will find out a comparative analysis of the site and mobile application, the widespread pros and cons of every alternative, and other necessary basic information.
Table of Contents
The Peculiarities of Mobile Apps and Mobile Websites
First off, let’s find out what a website and an application are. A website is represented as several pages intended to deliver content and linked to function together in a browser. The pages are not as interactive, but their interfaces and sizes can be adaptable according to the needs of certain mobile devices (the opportunities to do it will be described later). A mobile app is a small software product with a specific feature set designed to run on mobile gadgets.
Both variants have their benefits and drawbacks, but let’s start with their brief comparative analysis.
The first difference between the app and the mobile website is the necessity of an Internet connection. It is required for the site to use its complete functionality, while the mobile apps can work even in offline mode without any problem. However, the app is often created for a particular operating system (such as Android or iOS) when the website can work free, having only a stable Internet connection. And finally (yet importantly): the websites are less expensive than the apps most of all.
It should be noted that most major corporations develop both apps and websites to fulfill their business requirements. So, such options can be used separately or complement each other.
Benefits of Business Mobile Sites
Time has proven that a common site is not enough for a successful business. The mobile traffic share has grown to 56% in 2021, and this factor is annually changed. So, the company owners need to think of mobile site optimization as a valid alternative to mobile applications.
How to develop a mobile website that would be comfortable to use? This issue can be solved according to the responsive and adaptive web design approaches. Let’s dive deeper into their essence:
- Thanks to the responsive approach, the sites can be adapted due to the viewports and sizes of mobile gadgets. You should only prepare a code base and a website interface, and it would be economically rational for your business. This approach can be implemented using the essential tech stack that would help the mobile website look properly.
- The adaptive approach is more high-priced; however, it offers to build separate layouts to fit each gadget’s screen and provide an excellent UX for every website. Then, the server would automatically define the screen size and upload an appropriate layout according to the situation.
Now, we’ll find out the prevalent website development pros as well as the related cons.
The websites are cost-effective, compatible, easy to upgrade, and have got the SEO tools to enlarge the site traffic. Let’s look at each of the listed benefits in particular.
Mobile website pros
The websites are cost-effective as business solutions, but the cost range depends on a bunch of reasons. If you want to build a site for different platforms, you should hire the web development team, and they will set the price according to the complexity of your project. Moreover, the price would balance higher or lower due to the choice of one or another web design approach described above.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO optimization is one of the key elements that support websites in the fight against mobile sites. This approach helps boost your site traffic through search results. It works the following way: after you’ve appropriately optimized your website, the users find it in the browser with the help of the particular queries and enter it. Such a method attracts potential customers interested in your products or services. These people turn from leads to regular customers on your website.
It is one of the crucial website benefits. Your core audience can combine the developed fully functional product with different physical gadgets and operating systems. Moreover, you shouldn’t install any additional tools or extensions to start a compatible interaction. Just open your browser, find a proper website with several clicks and begin to work. User-friendliness is a benefit that brings a broader audience reach to sites.
All the necessary information can be updated on the website immediately after loading data to the server. There’s no need for Google’s or App Store’s approval of the potential update, so it is quite a time-saving process. Upgrades don’t require additional payments and can be done whenever you want. To do that, you should analyze the website data in comparison with the rivals’ one, add the necessary functionality, test it and then, update the site.
Drawbacks of Website Development
After discussing the advantages of having a mobile website, it’s time to talk about the most common drawbacks. They are connected to access issues, user experience, and platform restrictions. Let’s learn more about them.
Mobile websites cons
In comparison with top-class mobile app UX, the website one suffers a defeat. It cannot provide high user experience because of the common reasons (such as limited feature set created on a browser’s basis, etc.) Moreover, the sites are not perfectly adaptable to the size of the mobile gadgets’ screens in most cases.
In the majority of the cases, mobile websites can process data only with an Internet connection. That’s why you can’t interact with any site components and send requests in offline mode. Only the cached pages are available for you to view. You can also cache proxy queries to the pages of your website, and the webpages will be displayed even without Internet access.
Operating system restrictions
Be aware that mobile sites cannot fully apply to device capabilities as mobile applications. Some of the gadget’s hardware and operating system characteristics cannot be used on the mobile website (or work incorrectly). It’s worth noting that the restrictions of Android and iOS are different, and a feature that cannot be accessible on one platform may be available on the other one.
Android has got the following limitations for the websites:
- No access to the calendar
- Calls and SMS are among the restricted telephony services
However, numerous APIs and libraries enable mobile sites to use the camera, GPS, and other gadget functions.
iOS has got the following restrictions:
- Push notifications aren’t available
- There is no Siri integration
- Websites lack Touch ID and Face ID technologies, battery information, Bluetooth, ARKit, etc.
Mobile App Benefits
Mobile applications are represented by a whole bunch of advantages, which are generally recognized. It is worth looking at statistics to appreciate the value of mobile applications properly. People worldwide spend a lot of time on their smartphones: in 2021, for example, the typical American uses a gadget for 5-6 hours a day.
This fact can be advantageous for your business. Companies that have implemented a mobile strategy may expect a larger share of engaged consumers who are ready to convert and pay for their promoted goods and services. Apps also have a broader feature set, an excellent user experience, and even can work in an offline mode.
Mobile apps pros
So, let’s discuss the advantages of mobile apps in detail now.
Promotional options for your brand
Mobile apps allow company owners to promote their business and attract more customers with the help of notifications. This is a quick way to remind app users about the discounts, offers, and upcoming events and send essential information. IKEA’s app, for instance, facilitates the brand promotion and increases sales with the help of AR technologies. The mobile app of Coca-Cola also serves primarily for promotional campaigns.
Mobile applications are tailored to match the peculiarities of each gadget and operating system. The gesture management and native interface components make the app usage quicker and easier to navigate. It should also be noted that the apps can be constantly upgraded to provide people with current and important data. Moreover, everyone likes mobile applications so much that they can provide content according to users’ preferences.
Mobile apps are a comfortable way for users to obtain the required features in a rapidly changing world. For instance, apps will ideally help you involve the particular capabilities of your gadget (like access to camera, accelerometers, localization, or compasses) if you need so. Most apps provide access by a fingerprint of the user (which is also a good example of using the gadget’s capabilities.)
In comparison to websites, mobile apps provide users with seamless basic data access even in offline mode. Internet connection is required during the completion of essential tasks (like sending notifications or transferring funds.) So, think of a mobile app development if you need to make a part of functionality handy even with no Internet connection nearby.
Mobile App Drawbacks
Now, we’ll discuss in particular the other side of mobile apps, covering their drawbacks, which are connected to prices, updates, and approvals.
Mobile apps cons
App building (mainly, the native one) is always quite expensive because it is created for a certain operating system. This way, in case you need to achieve a broader reach, you should think about an app for both iOs and Android users. It may require more funds. However, you can choose more cost-efficient options creating a cross-platform or a hybrid product for the needs of your company.
Your apps should be constantly maintained and updated to be bug-free and up-to-date. Even if your app works flawlessly, you can always improve it by adding new functionality and making it more user-friendly. Otherwise, the customers will find another application that would fulfill their needs more than yours. Upgrading processes also require funds and more time (needed for adding and approving the updates).
Every app passes through the long and nerve-wracking approval procedure, no matter for what platform it’s created. The iOS applications, for instance, are moderated for about 4 days according to App Store Review Guidelines, and then a rejection verdict (or a release one) comes to the owner. The Android apps are checked for more than 7 days, and in case of rejection, you’ll receive its reason and recommendations to components that need fixing.
Mobile Website Versus Application
To sum up the reason, we’ve gathered all the info above in a table for you to facilitate the comparison between mobile-friendly site and application, and the further choice.
|Parameters to compare
|A mobile website
|A mobile application
|Low-cost building and support
|Expensive building and support
|Restricted by the need to login for all gadgets
|User-friendly UX, excellent performance, the feature set of the gadget can also be implied
|Imperfect, website offers some adjustment features, but they are not enough in some cases
|Various options to choose from (widgets, settings, notifications, and other necessities)
|All-in-one product, less expensive to operate and maintain.
|Different variants for certain operating systems with the need to support
|Handy for everybody in online mode. It’s also easy to share.
|Accessible to a gadget-related range of users, some features can work incorrectly on different platforms
|Limited, but possible (with the help of the cached pages and proxy queries)
|Can function offline, showing fundamental information due to the user’s needs.
We covered the basics as to the website vs. mobile app information. If you need to know more, the experienced software development team can assist you. The specialists will consult you due to the most annoying questions you have as to a mobile app or a website creation. They will also give their expert opinion about the best business option for you to choose, provide you with a detailed estimation of each alternative and help you develop a seamless product that will respond to your business goals.
My name is Katherine Orekhova and I am a technical writer at Cleveroad – mobile app development company. I’m keen on technology and innovations. My passion is to tell people about the latest tech trends in the world of IT.