Mobile App Vs. Mobile Website – Choosing The Best for Your Business in 2018

We are living in a world of Technology and internet communication where more than 80% of the  Internet traffic are attributable to mobiles. Thanks to the evolution of Technology, internet speeds and the availability of contents, mobiles have become an integral part of the technological and information-ecosystem. The inevitability of mobiles as a business tool put a mandate on all the business to not just consider, but conditionally include mobiles as a part of their business and marketing plan. This situation puts a lot of businesses at a scene similar to “The road not taken”  by Robert Frost –  whether to go for a mobile application or just to stay ‘contented with a mobile website.

Both the mobile website and mobile applications have their own fair share of advantages and challenges. In the B2B world, a mobile website is considered more than adequate to meet the business requirements.

When it comes to a B2C service or a product, it is quite easy to conclude that it would be a great idea to go for a mobile application. The frequency of usage, both in terms of numbers and time, presents a clear advantage for the application. It also opens a new floodgate for marketing purposes, as notifications can push a message at the will and wish of a business.

Mobile Application Development

A Mobile Website:

Before we get into discussing which among the website and the app would be better for the world of mobile business, we should understand that a mobile website is essentially a normal website that gives an optimized experience on mobile devices. In today’s world of Technology, the mobile website is no longer a luxury, and neither is it a separate expense. Most of the content management systems and the technological platforms of today give an optimized web presence responsive to the device from which it is accessed.

Pros of a mobile website:

One of the most obvious advantages of a mobile website and the most favourite for many businesses is that it is not a separate cost to develop. This would mean that there is only one development cost that is involved, and that is for a really robust and an awesome-looking website. In addition to this obvious advantage come up there are a few other advantages as well. Mobile websites are platform-agnostic –  a properly developed website is going to settle itself comfortably with both the major operating systems – iOS and Android. It can also beautifully fit into both Safari and Google Chrome.

You do not have to constantly push for any updates for the mobile website application that you have developed. Any change that is done at the server level is going to take effect as and when the mobile website gets loaded.

One of the most massive advantages of a mobile website is that it is instantaneously available. Unlike applications, the user has the liberty to access the website whenever they want, and the business doesn’t have to be worried about the uninstalls of an application.

Cons of a mobile website:

A mobile website has its fair share of cons as well. With the advent of Technologies like split screens and mobiles with small displays, it is impossible to completely foresee all the possible variants of the website being rendered on every kind of display.

As much as a mobile website gives instant access, the access is lost the moment a Website is closed. The closing of the browser not only closes the user’s access to your website but also closes the users access to you as well. There is no way you can calculate or understand the behaviour of that user after the person has left the website.

All of this might push us to conclude either towards or against mobile websites. Let us not jump to conclusions before we have seen the awesomeness and the office of the world of mobile applications.

Mobile applications have come a long way from being just a massive buzzword to being one of the most coveted professions that would instantly catapult a business into Pinnacle of Fame. Leave alone mobile applications for businesses, we have seen even mobile applications become a core business of a few companies like Rovio who made the famous Angry Birds game.

When we put on our marketing goggles and look at the world of mobile applications for business. Any marketing decision has to be made on the basis of returns, investment and risk. On the surface, it might seem that building a mobile application would definitely be a great idea. However, building in a mobile application is a separate cost altogether. The word ‘cost’ might not essentially appeal to a lot of businesses. We have to understand that the cost also translates into massive benefits.

Pros of mobile applications:

One of the biggest factors that contribute to the cost of building a mobile application is the designing of the UI / UX. On the other end, it is this cost that returns to the business immediately. Exploiting the inclination of the user to interact with an app on an intuitive method, the UI / UX serves as a great factor not only in making the user comfortable with the application but also serving as a deterrent when it comes to even the faintest decision of a user wanting to quit a product.

A reduced layer to transcend means that the mobile applications are generally faster than the mobile websites. This would also mean that some of the vital elements of the app interface can be preloaded along with the app being downloaded, so the user does not get a feel of waiting for too long at a blank screen. This feature also expands the Horizons of the mobile applications used beyond the requirement of a connection. Some of the basic features can even be made available when the device is offline.

If there is one place where the mobile applications pin down mobile websites through a point of no bounce back, it has to be the advantages that the applications present in terms of pushing notifications. Pushing a notification is such a massive advantage – It is almost as if you have the authority to communicate with your user at your will (although great care and diligence has to be exercised when using this particular feature of an application).

The world of mobile application opens the floodgates to a plethora of data that can be captured from the users’ device. This includes, but is not limited to the GPS, fingerprints, call, and even battery life. We have seen instances of how Uber had learned that people whose phones are about to die do not care about the Surge Pricing. This was possible because they had the access to check the battery levels of the users.

We also have to understand that the world of mobile applications is not a vertical one, but rather an ecosystem where many applications can communicate with one application to weave a business strategy that could help in the long run. We know how a lot of fitness related applications tag along with Google fit and collect the data about the steps and the calories.

Mobile applications are not always a bed of Roses, and even if it is, there is a possibility for a couple of thorns that could be a pain in the wrong times.

Mobile Apps

The Cons of Mobile Applications:

Most businesses would agree that the mobile application development cost is one of the biggest disadvantages. While it can be agreed upon at the surface level the disadvantage goes deeper. We are pushed to prioritize the platforms that we would like to develop the mobile application for. Developing the application for each platform is a separate cost (As the workaround like hybrid applications might not give the most optimal experience on all platforms).

Developing an application and testing the waters with just one platform could be a great idea, as followed by Prisma and Instagram that were available only for the iOS ecosystem during the launch. This strategy backfired a little bit on the Android side, especially with Prisma, as there were a lot of applications that began to use the name, capitalizing on the eagle’s of the Android users to have that application. The fact that there are people who still use Windows Phones and Blackberries should be a reason for you to be concerned about the development costs.

The mobile application is a great asset for the business, but for the business to get these assets, it has to be understood that the application has to be installed. Promoting and marketing for an app to be installed is a separate cost in itself, in addition to mobile application development. It also has to be noted that even a small code-update on the server mandates that the user should update that application for that feature to be life.

We have seen that both mobile applications and Mobile websites have their share of pros and cons. Some businesses might require that they hold their users together, irrespective of the cost involved. Some businesses might be a little tight in there, and they would be more focused on getting their users to even temporarily grace their online platforms. Some businesses, especially on the B2B front might have the essential financial backing but might not choose to go with the mobile application because of the nature of their business and customers.

There is no clear decision or verdict that can be delivered with respect to these two platforms that are both constantly evolving in there in less competition. However, it is very safe to conclude that it all comes down to the nature of the business, and the calculation of the value that the application provides against the cost involved in developing it.

In simple terms, having a mobile website is like a Live-in relationship. There is no guarantee or warranty for the length of the partnership. However, there is an element of liberty for both the parties. It has to be understood that one has to make up their mind to move on. And all this, without much cost!

An application is like a proper married life. There is a sense of commitment, there is freedom of communication, and there is an innate sense of security that both the parties feel in this kind of a relationship. Uninstallation is definitely painful, but a rarity…. And it is one insanely costly affair!

There are factions of people who will speak in favour of one and against the other. The bitter truth is neither of them is right or wrong. Just like the examples that we have seen, it all boils down to love, or in the case of business, love to translate to money!

News Reporter
Girish R, Programmer for 17 yrs, Blogger at Techathlon.com, LifeHacker, DIYer. He loves to write about technology, Open source & gadgets. He currently leads the mobile solutions team at Fingent.