Which option is better, a mobile app or a mobile website?
There are currently two different ways to technically develop and implement projects for mobile devices: a mobile website and a mobile application.
A mobile app is a specially developed application, which fits a designated platform, be it iOS, Android or Windows Phone. Typically such app is developed in a high-level program language and is compiled into a native code of the Operating System, which allows for maximum efficiency.
There is also a third option - a mobile app which includes browser components. In this case a part of a mobile app is often used for navigation and integration with OS, and a web component - to show content. Typical users often can’t distinguish a difference between this version and a native mobile app.
One of the top arguments, which is often used by mobile application designers is the proximity to OS and a familiar user interface. A mobile app is, in fact, most closely integrated with a platform and allows the actualization of a responsive interface. On the other hand, a website can also provide a very convenient and user friendly method of interaction. At this point website rendering is way behind the mobile app, but the power of mobile devices is continuing to grow and the browsers themselves are also experiencing positive shifts in the right direction. On top of this, different versions of mobile OS can dictate their own standards, which you have to comply with and some of these new standards can be difficult to comprehend by regular users. It is important to outline that the most active users (the ones who rate things and leave comments in app stores) are those, who are big fans of latest innovations in mobile OS. You should make a note of this when you are promoting a project as those can be your allies, who can spread the the word about your newest app.
High speed performance
An interactive website is never as fast as a mobile app when it comes to high speed performance. Browsers on mobile devices are far from being highly efficient. On top of this, web developers use outdated versions of libraries. Wrong implementation of these libraries doesn’t affect “big” browsers, which is why most people just put up with this. On the other hand, a mobile app can also sometimes be lacking in high speed performance - too much animation and a complicated interface dramatically decrease the number of clicks. Moreover, to create advanced graphics and animations, developers have to use low-level programming languages and special libraries and frameworks.
Integration with a platform
Mobile apps are way ahead of websites when it comes to working with a specific platform. Mobile apps are built for integration with a specific platform. If a component of a browser is embedded in the app then the difference gets leveled out. Moreover, the level of access to device capabilities keeps growing constantly through an expanding set of API.
A website is launched from a browser and needs a steady internet connection to work properly. It doesn’t matter whether the project exists solely online, but even if it does, the lack of internet connection, can cause unpleasant delays for a user, especially when it comes to navigation between two parts of an app. Using API to store local data could probably fix this issue, but so far no examples of such use could be found. On the other hand, mobile apps can work without internet connection or with limited connection, performing caching and data refreshing, when the connection becomes available again. That said, the vast majority of mobile apps on the market today still require a steady internet connection to be used.
It seems that there is no obvious and straightforward solution. Both mobile apps and mobile websites have their pros and cons. A combined solution also solve some problems, but brings in the new ones. Therefore, it is safe to say that each case requires an individual approach.
If you are looking to save the resources, the best option seems to be web development. The main challenge is not to get pulled down by the intricacies of implementation and to provide users with the most useful functions. Remember that content is king and you should focus on it first. “Prettification”
If you are planning on interacting with your end users online, you should definitely start with a website which can reach both mobile device users and regular desktop and laptop users. When you have this ready, you can also think about developing mobile apps for selected platforms to broaden your reach. This is the best option for a the majority of businesses.
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Page Updated Last on: Jan 29, 2016