Should you build a Mobile App or a Website?
If your business is trying to enter the online marketplace, you know you need a digital presence. But what kind of digital presence? Should you try building your very own App or focus on developing an awesome Website? Where will your hard-earned money be best spent? This is a question we get asked quite often and for good reason.
Understanding which one should come first isn’t always easy. In a confusing marketplace with 101 “expert” opinions many suffer from tech-fatigue. We recently had a client admit to this very thing after meeting with some IT types. Be wary of coy, up sell “package deals” too! When choosing between a mobile application or a website it’s vital to focus on your ultimate goals. What is it you hope to achieve? That’s always the best place to start.
In today’s blog, we’re comparing the different processes in developing a website versus an application.
The Development Process
Mobile apps are one of today’s hottest new development trends for business. The main trend with most mobile applications is that they are developed after the website has been completed. After (if needed and warranted) not before! The development process and approach between the two varies considerably. While not a comprehensive list in any way, the following points to consider should help. Here are some of the most notable direct comparisons between an app development or a responsive website design / redesign.
Reaching more users: If your goal is to reach the greatest number of users, it’s a far better idea to develop a website first before building a mobile app. Creating a mobile friendly website will make sure you have a product that’s compatible with more devices. A large amount of traffic to your website will come from mobile devices, so this should be your priority. A mobile friendly website will save having to spend extra budget developing an application that will be compatible across every mobile operating system. Yes, you read that correctly. Just having an app does not make it compatible with every mobile device. A responsive or mobile friendly website does.
Getting users back to your content: If your goal is to have an end product that customers are going to check a few times a day (think: facebook,or instagram), it’s a better idea to consider developing an application. An application is the perfect solution to draw visitors back to your content. You can push alerts directly to their device and it should sync to the latest content or update that you want to send.
On the other hand, if your goal is only to get your customers checking in on your content once a day or even once a week, a mobile responsive website would be a far better choice for development. Not only saving your budget on the build, but providing more value for that spend.
Accessing features on devices: With a website, you will be limited to the total number of features that you can access on a device. If your customers need a camera to access your website (think: snapchat or IG stories) or you would like the option to add events into their calendar, a mobile application could work better. Having the ability to send push notifications and use the built-in features of the device comes only with a native app development that also has permissions from the user. If you wanted more intuitive controls for your content or the option for more interactivity, the app could be a better option.
Off-line access: An application can also be highly beneficial if you have complicated literature or other items that you would prefer your customers have off-line access to. Having the option to access these items offline in a streamlined application can present a better look for your brand.
Your budget: when it comes down to it, developing a mobile website is less expensive than creating an app. The cost of testing, development and implementation grows based on the complexity of the app that you would like to develop. Creating a website takes considerably less time, resources and funding.
Be careful what you wish for: Apps specifically, are only as good as the developer (hopefully team) that built and supports them. What happens if things don’t work out? If not using the current industry standards, costs can grow exponentially to troubleshoot and fix bugs, however small. Developers may only build for Apple iOS or for Android – not necessarily both. Also, just building an app does not automatically mean it will get approved for iOS App Store and Google Play.
In the end, the option to develop an application versus a responsive website comes down to your thoughts on budget, reach and your ultimate goals. It’s very easy, especially with technology to get caught up in the shiny syndrome. Just because something looks nice and shiny and all the cool kids have them, doesn’t mean your business needs one right now. In point of fact, most smaller businesses simply don’t.
If your business has multiple locations, is a franchise or a restaurant, then an app could definitely be a benefit. If you have one bricks and mortar store and only update your website periodically, then maybe not. Your budget would be better spent on a good, mobile friendly website, social media & traditional marketing.
We hope this article has helped shed some light and decipher any confusion around apps and websites. If you found it helpful, that’s awesome, why not consider sharing it along to someone you know?
Thanks for reading!