Face it. If your business doesn’t have some sort of mobile presence, you’re behind. People are spending more and more time browsing the Internet via mobile devices, so it’s imperative that your company moves to accommodate a mobile clientele. But which one should your business invest in? Mobile app or mobile web? Do you want native application support for iOS and Android? Or should you focus on adapting and redesigning your existing website to work in a cross-platform responsive way? Of course, if you have the budget, it’s certainly best to do both. Having a mobile-friendly website and an application is ideal. Unfortunately, not everyone has that much time and money, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
The two main advantages of optimizing your existing website for mobile browsing are simple: time and cost. Redesigning a website to function responsively across different devices shouldn’t be too difficult or time-consuming as long as you already have a competent design team. Furthermore, it is hands down the best way to reach a wide spectrum of users. You’ll need different versions of the same app if you want to reach everyone, but not so with mobile web design. The same mobile website will work on iOS, Android, and everything in between. Yet, there are still limitations to responsive web design, and it can be difficult to maintain consistency across the wide range of devices available today. Also, a device must be connected to the Internet to access your website.
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The main advantage of device-specific mobile applications is their enhanced functionality. Access to a device’s camera or GPS system, for example, is not possible from a mobile website. However, a native application can take full advantage of all the unique features of the device it is specifically designed for. Also, in-app purchases can be a highly profitable business model if implemented properly. In fact, most revenue generating applications rely on in-app purchases to generate profits. Another massive benefit to mobile apps is their offline functionality. While mobile websites are only accessible when the device’s browser is connected to the Internet, applications can be used offline – for example, on an airplane. However, one drawback is an application’s lack of search engine integration. Sure, someone can search for you in the App Store, but your application won’t come up on a Google search; your mobile website will.
So, which one?
Both types of mobile outreach are useful, but it ultimately comes down to assessing your own company’s needs. What does your company want from mobile? For most, it’s really just important to provide a satisfactory mobile browsing experience for consumers. Do you really need location-based services or audio recognition technology? Probably not. In this case, optimizing your website for mobile browsing is all you need. Users can access the information on your site in an attractive and easy manner, from any device. However, if you have the budget, a mobile app can be very effective. Even if you don’t need access to a device’s special features, an application still is specifically optimized for the mobile experience. Check analytics to gain information about where your website’s traffic is coming from, and then program accordingly. Is it mostly iOS? What about Android or Windows Phone? Keep these things in mind when you look to develop an application for your business.
By Roft Mark