Considerations When Choosing Between a Mobile App or Web App

By Zoe Williamson
13 May '19

Though it may be ideal developing for both a new web and mobile app development, sometimes finances do not allow for it. Perhaps it is the case that a company is deciding which software development happens first, or that only one will represent their business for the foreseeable future.

There are obvious answers. While larger companies would not consider losing their digital footprint, 36% of small businesses do not have a website. Web applications are the public face of a business, accessible to everyone through a search engine without the need to download.

For those who already have a website, there is still a choice to make. New website design could revitalize a business, whereas a native app could streamline the experience for existing customers.

The considerations for a new website

Web apps have an immediate advantage in that they are accessible through both computer and mobile browsing. Personal computers are still widespread, with as many as 87% of Americans owning one in 2015. Add to that the 75% of Americans who own a smartphone and you have a global reach.

Building a website is a cheaper development process, with more opportunities to add complex improvements like the content management systems (CMS). Mobile applications are still not capable of managing vast data independently, and including CMS would require separate web development. 

Websites are often the first experience a customer will have of your business. Poor front end development looks suspicious. If you run an eCommerce business, you want to appear as trustworthy as you are to capitalize on the ever-growing online shopping industry.

Currently, people trust shopping online more when done through a computer, but the figure for mobile purchasing is rising. Mobile browsing still has the edge over apps. When comparing prices and products, it is time-consuming to download each corresponding app, even if the user experience is unique.

Reaching your audience is more difficult through a web application. Push notifications from apps appear on a user’s home screen when they are out of the house. Web applications are less able to reach their audience when they are not actively engaging.

Some companies are more suited to web development. Should your business provides information or online shopping experience, a web app is suited to your needs better. Consider web development first if you run a niche business. The reduced rates mean less risk, but changing your site shows visitors that you are successful enough to invest in yourself.

The considerations for building an app

Mobile application development feels like the natural progression of business for many. There are indeed significant advantages.
Apps offer a smoother user experience than websites and one tailored to users. However, this tailored experience is due to the different operating systems. Whereas a web app will be cross-platform, mobile apps are not universal. You may have to choose between an Android app, iPhone app or both.
Your app needs to offer something not available through your website, and this is where phones have an advantage. Optimizing apps to use a smartphone camera or access location is easier on a native app. Adding these features will cost more in development but may prove key to fostering customer loyalty.

That loyalty is crucial for gaining a return on investment. For many apps that are an extension of a business, that return is people opening the app. 
Without offering something new or seamless convenience, your app runs the risk of being deleted. Should you manage an eCommerce business, market research would benefit you. Would your customers spend more money on an app? If you find the positive responses, consider how much more money you would make and how quickly the app would pay for itself.
Of course, there are some industries which are better suited to our mobile lives. Entertainment apps work well on mobile devices as consumers have their favourite media at their fingertips. But this is an ever more saturated market looking for something groundbreaking.

Which one is best for you?

The way to answer this question is to search for companies that can provide both of these services. While there are industries that benefit from either web or mobile, no company is the same. With an idea of what you want for your business, research web and mobile development companies and view their portfolios.

A good company will consider your budget and ambitions before providing well-reasoned development solutions. Some industries are more suited to mobile, while others would see little to no benefit. Seeing your name in the Apple App Store or on Google Play may look impressive, but it will not make sense without relevant usage.

At a basic level, development is like this: progressive web apps allow you to reach new customers. Mobile apps provide more custom software for users already loyal to you.



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