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Mobility slammed into the enterprise technology scene and made an indelible impact on the modern business. There’s no question how important it can be for your firm. If you’re considering mobile development, the question for your firm might be: What type of mobile presence is best for your business? Should you choose a mobile website or a mobile app?

Both mobile apps and mobile websites are accessed on handheld devices like smartphones  and tablets. A mobile website is sort of a first step in developing a mobile web presence. A mobile app, on the other hand, might be useful for developing a specific application for your enterprise. Building and testing mobile apps for various platforms, multiple form factors, and uploading apps to the various stores is more intensive than building and testing mobile websites for multiple browsers. And, coding for mobile apps requires a more specialized skill-set than coding for mobile websites.

What is a mobile website?

A mobile website is similar to any other website. Like other websites, mobile websites can display text, data, images and video. The only difference is that it’s specifically designed and built for smaller, hand-held screens. They can be accessed using any mobile device’s web browser, like Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android.  When users access your URL, your website automatically detects the mobile device and redirects the viewer to the mobile version of your website.

What is a mobile app?

A mobile app is an application that runs on a smartphone or tablet application. A mobile app must be downloaded and installed, rather than being rendered within a browser. A mobile app is typically downloaded from an app marketplace, such as Apple’s App Store or Android’s Google Play store. The app may pull content and data from the Internet, in a similar fashion to a website, or it may download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.

Questions to ask before you pick mobile website or mobile app?

Mobile Website Mobile App
Accessibility Mobile websites makes regular websites more accessible for mobile users when using a browser like Chrome or Safari. Users can access your website anytime, anywhere using any device. It is important to create a mobile-friendly layout to ensure readability and functionality when viewed on a smartphone or tablet. A mobile app is easier to access than a mobile website ; it’s just a tap away. An app requires download and installation before you can use it. Mobile apps are downloaded from the App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World depending on the tablet or smartphone’s operating system.
Offline usability Mobile website has limited accessibility in offline mode. In online mode, you should design and develop the mobile website to load quickly even over slow connections. Enterprises can have their own spot on a customer’s device with a mobile app. You have more control over their presence on a device than they would with a mobile website. Depending on the app, the accessibility might range from no functionality available in offline mode to full functionality available in offline mode.
Advanced features Websites, whether for mobile or not, have already matured enough to handle many advance features like geo-targeting, personalization, etc. Special features like m-Commerce, loyalty programs, geo-targeted push notifications,  gathering data about user’s behaviors, etc. are standard use cases for an advanced mobile app. For advanced features like these, it is best to go with mobile app as the environment is more hospitable.
Purpose/Goal If your enterprise is trying to disseminate information only, building a mobile website might be the route to take. If your enterprise has a very specific purpose and need that cannot be accomplished via a web browser, building a mobile app is probably the route to take.
Interactivity HTML5 makes it possible for mobile websites to be very interactive. Despite the leaps and bounds made in HTML5, mobile apps still present a higher and more sophisticated level of interactivity.
Time and cost

to

build & publish

Mobile website development and testing is relatively easy and cheaper for multiple browsers.  However, you have to ensure that your dev team doesn’t just dump the existing website on mobile. Mobile websites must be treated as the first step to your mobile strategy.

Publishing a mobile website is a relatively easy and straightforward process.

Mobile apps have to be built to be compatible on multiple OS’s. So, the lifecycle of building an app is longer and more complicated. Depending on functionality and usability, cost of building a mobile app might vary, but will generally cost more than the mobile web counterpart.

Publishing mobile apps on multiple stores (Windows, Android, Apple etc) is a more involved process.

Branding A mobile website is an extension of your enterprise’s website. A mobile app is owning a piece of real-estate on your user’s smartphone or tablet.
Customization/

personalization

With geo-targeting and user-logins , it is possible to customize and personalize on mobile websites. But, it is not to the same extent of customization and personalization that can be enabled via mobile apps. Both customization and personalization are easier to do with mobile apps. The app itself can be customized and personalized for different users based on their behavior. Also, users have more power with an app to personalize their experience.

Conclusion:

If you are not ready to dive into a mobile app yet, try building a mobile website to conceptualize, build, test and learn about the kind of presence you want your enterprise to have in the mobile world.

Feel free to contact us  to discuss whether a mobile app or a mobile website is the right fit for your enterprise’s mobile strategy.

For more useful information about mobility, mobile development, technology and enterprise solutions, subscribe to our blog or check out our resources page.

 

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