Mobile App vs Mobile Website: The Detailed Comparison

Article by:
Elizabeth Boyarko
7 min
Promotion on the mobile market is becoming more and more important, as the number of mobile devices used on the Internet is constantly increasing. Many companies are wondering what to choose: a mobile application or a mobile website. In this article we will cover the pros and cons of both options, and help you choose the right one for your business.

Everyone wants to lead their business to success, regardless of whether you are a startup or a business with a scaling project. Today there is a struggle to attract the target audience. The attention of most companies focuses on the fast path, which is winning mobile users. For any business in almost any industry, it is recommended to have a mobile marketing strategy since smartphones occupy 77% of all devices used for searching the Internet. And here, companies are faced with the question of what to choose: a mobile application or a mobile website. Let's find out which solution suits your business needs best.

The Difference Between a Mobile App and a Mobile Website 

There are two areas of technical implementation of projects for mobile devices: a mobile app vs mobile website. The difference between an app and website is significant in terms of the process, costs, and the average time to build a website.

Mobile App vs Mobile Website: Main Differences

Mobile sites are websites created for mobile devices. These websites run from browsers on all devices and are available for a wide range of users. This means that all of your site's content (from navigation and checkout to products and banner pages) is adaptive and can be viewed efficiently on small screens. Customers can experience all the benefits of your website right on their mobile devices. 

Mobile apps are native apps that need to be installed on mobile devices. This is a multifunctional customer-oriented service that can be downloaded to a smartphone using a built-in marketplace. They are useful for deeper re-interaction with existing customers.

Many companies want to switch to digital technologies, but there is one question: is it better to use an app or a website? To determine the best solution, you need to know your target audience, the features you need, the intended purpose, the budget, and many more factors. You can find this out during the discovery phase.

We offer you a detailed analysis of each option with an emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages of mobile apps and mobile websites. That way you can't go wrong and define what you really need.

Not sure what to choose: a mobile app or mobile website?

Our team is ready to help you. Contact our experts to find trusted mobile solutions for all kinds of businesses.

Book a consultation

Not sure what to choose: a mobile app or mobile website?

Our team is ready to help you. Contact our experts to find trusted mobile solutions for all kinds of businesses.

Book a consultation

Mobile Website

A website can be complex and functional on a desktop computer, but it may not offer the same features for different brands, sizes, and types of mobile devices. Having a responsive site optimized for mobile devices ensures that customers can enjoy the best features of your site without the need to leave their browser, creating a single experience with the brand.

Mobile Websites pros and cons

Advantages of Mobile Websites

At first glance, mobile apps vs mobile websites may look very similar, but these are two completely different mobile environments. Deciding which one suits your needs best depends on several factors, so by considering them you can answer the question: what are the benefits of a mobile site over an app for businesses?

1. Availability

Unlike mobile applications that work for a particular operating system, progressive mobile websites can be available on any mobile device or computer regardless of the operating system. However, the experience with mobile websites will depend on the speed, access, and quality of your network. Websites are completely free and can be accessed via a browser without having to download them directly to the device's storage.

2. Broad Functionality

If you are looking to develop a complex business management system to optimize processes, then a website will be much more appropriate than a mobile application, as it is easier for users to analyze and enter complex data into a larger screen.

3. Optimized Customer Search

One of the main benefits of mobile websites for business is that sites are a great option for finding new customers, given that they can be better optimized for ranking in search engines, and you can create common links for all sites on social networks and forums. If you want to attract new customers, it is reasonable to assume that they would rather buy from a website than download a special app that they may not even know about.

4. Compatibility

The mobile website is compatible with any device. If mobile applications run only on certain platforms, an adaptive website can be accessed from any mobile device regardless of the operating system, which means that users can disconnect from one device and be able to continue working on another one.

5. Profitability

Cost is an important factor to consider, especially if you want your app to be on multiple platforms. Custom web applications take a long time to develop and there is a shortage of developers, which means development prices are constantly growing. Depending on the complexity, the business can save money by creating an adaptive mobile site, not mobile apps. If you want to work on multiple operating systems, a mobile website can be one of the best options.

Disadvantages of Mobile Websites

Despite the advantages of a mobile website, there are certain difficulties in creating and using it. Therefore, we offer you to consider the disadvantages of mobile websites as well.

1. Lack of Offline Connection

The mobile-optimized website is connected to the Internet and is available online. It doesn't need to be downloaded as an application. However, offline operation of the mobile site is only possible when using cached pages. Full work requires a good internet connection which can become a problem for the user and deprives the mobile website of flexibility.

2. Inconvenience

The adaptive website can't effectively use all the features of a smartphone. Cameras, GPS, telephone sets, and other functions integrated into devices are not always well-designed for adaptive websites.

3. Passive Sales

To get any information from websites, you need to visit them. If someone does not visit your site, there is little you can do (advertise or send emails inviting them to your website). Therefore, this approach in marketing is considered passive. In mobile apps, you can use pop-up messages that are offered in the catalog. More importantly, depending on the platform, applications can run themselves and make suggestions to users. This can be a huge plus when you offer a high-demand product for sale.

Use Cases to Make a Mobile Website

The difference between an app and website is visible at the stage of designing UI/UX and writing code. Web apps are more complex in terms of creating a good user interface: you have to take into account the huge number of screen permissions and also adapt to the peculiarities of each browser. But don't rely on the technical part when choosing between the web and mobile application. You will always be able to find professionals in creating web applications and those who develop for iOS and Android. The right choice - website or app - depends on your business goals. If your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to a wide range of people, then you probably should build a mobile website.

Mobile App

As we said, a mobile application is a developed program for tablets and smartphones, which is installed on a particular platform and has certain functionality. Simply put, performs certain actions and solves a set of questions. The need to decide on a product such as an application sooner or later arises for any company that wants to increase its influence and profit with this solution. Nonetheless, the app creation cost will differ based on the chosen solution type.

Mobile apps pros and cons

Advantages of Mobile Apps

More and more companies today are choosing mobile apps for their business. Here are the benefits if you decide to build an application:

1. User Growth 

The mobile application market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5%. Positive trends in mobile app development open up new opportunities for small businesses that only plan to become recognizable, and will help large companies attract new users.

2. Keeping-in-Touch 24/7 

Push notifications allow you to constantly communicate with different groups of application users. The user who installed your app is more likely to buy again because it is your direct target audience. Thus, revenue from the application will be active, unlike a mobile website that attracts passive buyers.

3. User Involvement

Using custom mobile apps, your customers will be able to actively use your loyalty programs, discount offers, and promotions. Through the mobile application, you can quickly get feedback from customers about your work and eliminate errors.

4. Interaction

Even when offline, mobile application systems solve customer requests by delivering information about profitable offers, and the possibility of buying products or services through a mobile application. Thus, a feedback channel appears and a community of clients is formed to communicate with each other.

5. Business Metrics 

Mobile applications allow you to configure e-commerce tracking and collect information about all user activities. You can set up real-time business master data to help you build an effective strategy for the future and monitor product performance metrics and KPIs.

Disadvantages of Mobile Apps

We have collected the main advantages of mobile applications so that you can finally decide: is it better to use an app or a website?

1. Financial Costs

The development of an application with support for two platforms, as well as its implementation and promotion, will require significant costs. Before developing an application, define your target audience so that the application solves specific tasks. But this problem can be solved by cross-platform mobile app development, which allows you to create applications for different platforms using mobile app frameworks. As a rule, the app then shares one code base and saves time and money.

2. Compatibility

To ensure proper operation, a mobile app should meet the requirements of the specific operating system. This means that each platform (iOS, Android, Windows) needs a separate working version of the program.

3. Support and Maintenance

When an application is developed for different platforms, its support requires more time and money. You must regularly provide updates, and fix compatibility problems with each type of device. In addition, you should always remind users to install new updates.

4. Competition

According to the statistics, the number of applications is increasing every year. Unfortunately, this increases competition and the struggle for the attention of the buyer. Also, the average life cycle of the application is 3-6 months, which makes the choice of a mobile website in this case obvious. The outflow of users occurs three months after the installation of the app, as everyone wants to get rid of outdated and difficult-to-use applications. Users are always in search of more convenient services, so it will be easy for them to go to your competitors. But good apps tend to stay on phones indefinitely! Therefore, you need to monitor usability and upgrade your app.

Use Cases to Build a Mobile App

With all the positive aspects, you need to be well-prepared to create a custom mobile application. As much as loyalty can be increased, it can be lost as quickly if the application interface is overloaded, and it will have many bugs. In a slow download, the user will also first blame the owners of the application and not the Internet provider.

Therefore, the issue of optimization and possible work in offline mode is extremely important. The application needs stable support and updates: releases of new versions of operating systems occur constantly, from where it becomes necessary to make changes. So, to eliminate the main risks, it is important to remember that mobile applications need to be developed by a team of professionals. You can consider hiring a dedicated team of developers or opt for other IT outsourcing models that'll suit your needs.

There are several scenarios when the development of a mobile application will be the only correct solution:

  • A mobile app is ideal for you if you need related features such as GPS, click-to-call, cameras, or scanners.
  • You should choose a mobile application if your product is loaded with different types of content. So the platform will be dynamic and multifunctional.
  • The app is also great for interactive games, services for daily use, and always where it's best to stay 24/7 online and track progress.
  • The application will do an excellent job where you need to process complex calculations and manipulate data. Therefore, if your project belongs to fintech app development, banking, or investment, then it's time to build a mobile app.

Mobile App vs Mobile Website: Comparison

So how do the two approaches differ? Let's sum up the above in a mobile app vs mobile website comparison chart.

Mobile website Mobile app
Compatibility Great opportunities for users of different devices and operating systems. Support easy integration with features such as QR and text messages. A separate version of the application is required to ensure proper operation. Of course, it is possible to develop a cross-platform solution that will correspond to each operating system and device.
Convenience Can not effectively use all the functions of the smartphone. Another limitation for user benefits is the size of the device screen. Portable. Download content faster and make it easier to use. Have push notifications.
Access Connected to the Internet and available only online. You can easily share and publish to other platforms and channels. Works locally. A stable Internet connection is not required.
User Experience The single-window restriction can harm user-friendly UX. Sharing updates, features, and reminders in your app increase customer loyalty and retention. The design of mobile applications fits different screen sizes.
Support & Maintenance Websites cost less to upgrade. You need to maintain just a single version. Support takes more time and money. You must provide updates and resolve compatibility issues for each device type.

To Sum Up

Thus, your choice between a mobile app and a mobile website will depend on the target market you want to attract, the problem you want to solve, and the features and capabilities your user base requests. Such a multichannel approach will have the most desired effect, as websites or web platforms work effectively and integrate with mobile applications to promote strong brand identity and increase the awareness and engagement of audiences. 

If you still have doubts whether to choose a mobile app vs a mobile website, feel free to contact our experts, they will be happy to help you.

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