The question of whether to use a mobile application or a website for business has become a heated debate. Do you need a mobile app or a responsive website that looks good on mobile devices? Should we ignore mobile channels for a successful mobile strategy or should a business use both mobile apps and websites?
Today, there is a clear indication that apps are gaining more popularity and with good reason. Most consumers would rather use their mobile devices on the go than use laptops or desktops. According to an infographic by SignalMind, one in every five people own a smartphone, with one in every 17 owning a tablet. This is an indication that mobile is snowballing, and businesses ought to adapt in order to survive.
Other factors determine whether to use an app or a website. Your budget required features and your target audience. Let’s take a look at which is better, a mobile app or a business website.
Criteria For Mobile Application vs. Website Comparison
Not sure of what boxes to tick when making your comparison? Here are a few factors that you should consider.
Do users get direct access to a site or an app? As a site owner, making your information available to online users should be at the top of your list. Consumers will always have immediate access to websites, through browsers. However, to access any information on an app, you have to find the content across various marketplaces. These include Google Play, Apple’s App Store, Windows Phone Store and BlackBerry App World. Installation and downloading take more time and effort which is more than accessing a website requires.
Keep in mind that each mobile app is designed for use with a specific platform. For instance, an iOS app will not run on an Android mobile device. As such, you will have to develop unique versions that can be accessed by your different clients. This is not only time consuming, but also requires a big budget, which limits startups and other small businesses.
Users can now share website URLs easily via SMS, e-mails, private messages and on social media. A publisher can also share a hyperlink with online visitors to direct them to a specific site. You cannot share links or URLs on mobile apps. Though, there is always an option for screenshots.
To access any information on a website, you need an internet connection. Although there are various ways to access internet both wireless and hardwired, not everyone has online access. Using mobile apps becomes more convenient since they are capable of providing offline access to users.
There is need to redesign or update content regarding your business on a regular basis. This is one of the ways you can maintain relevance in the ever dynamic market. Whenever there is need to update information, a website offers more flexibility. Changes to the content or a web redesign will not affect your users in any way.
However, when using apps, your clients will need to install the latest version if they still need to access your content. They may not be aware of the changes immediately, which leads to most users deeming the app unresponsive and uninstalling. This is a loss on your part, as losing clients negatively affects your leads and conversions. You also end up spending more money supporting several versions as you wait for your clients to update to recent releases.
Consumers have a limited attention span. Recent studies indicate that on average, an iPhone app lasts thirty days. Less than 5% of users still use the app after the one-month duration. Paid apps also tend to fall off too fast, as most people may not see the need to pay for content. This only means that for your mobile app to thrive, you ought to provide useful and unique content. Otherwise, consumers will always abandon your app if it doesn’t seem to serve their needs.
Users cannot delete websites, even if they feel that they are not getting the most out of it. They may not return, but the site will still exist.
Mobile sites are more convenient and cheaper especially if the traffic is directed from search engines. They have minimal maintenance costs, which offset the initial cost of developing the site. Building a mobile app can be quite expensive since you need to consider every target audience. There are also updates requirements and getting store approval which adds on to the cost of time.
If you are still having trouble making a decision, here is a list of the pros and cons to help you out.
Websites Pros and Cons
- Can be accessed from all devices. You do not need a separate site for your operating system.
- Inexpensive. Costs are included in the price of developing the site.
- It is easy to set up, maintain and update.
- A broader reach which enhances your business. This is due to its multi-device support.
- Poor design may cause poor usability, performance issues and leave you with fewer user.
- You need an internet connection to access the content.
- There are no push notifications available. You cannot send messages to your subscribers
Mobile App Pros and Cons
- You can access content even without an internet connection.
- Allows for Augmented Reality, which enhances human capabilities.
- Push notifications are available. You can contact your users and notify of any changes made to the app.
- If well designed, it’s more responsive than a website.
- Geolocation. Your users can contact the nearest company office.
- Can be easily accessed from the home screen
- Quite expensive to install and maintain.
- Extra set up is required. After building the app, you have to get approval from the app stores.
It may be tough to pick between using a mobile app or a website for your business. Sites are useful in creating a mass appeal, whereas apps are ideal for loyalty. If your only goal is to deliver search optimized content targeting a wider audience, you can go to a website.
However, if you would like to customize content for your clients, a mobile app will work best. If you can afford it, why not have both? We are living in a digital age, and the mobile force will not die any time soon. Picking the right approach will only give better results for your clients.