Mobile websites vs mobile apps

The argument for a mobile website against a mobile app is hotly contested.

Many people feel that a mobile app is not required and that a website that looks good on mobile devices will do the trick. Others argue that mobile apps have benefits not available on a mobile website. Who is right?

All firms need a responsive website that looks great on mobile. It’s not difficult to get a mobile friendly website and there are no real downsides.

Visitors are going to view your website on their devices and you need to support that. It’s obvious that you need a mobile friendly website, but is a mobile app required? Is a mobile app going to serve your firm and clients better than your mobile website?

Here’s a summary of some of the arguments for and against each option to help you decide whether a mobile app or a mobile website is best for your firm.

Mobile website
In most cases a mobile website is not a separate website, it’s a mobile device friendly website that works for all screen sizes. Mobile visitors can access most of the content you have on your full website, but displayed optimally for smaller screens.

Given the ease of access, all firms should have a website that is mobile friendly. The arguments for and against are really just for comparison to a mobile app.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Works on all devices
  • Easy to setup
  • Easy to maintain

Cons

  • No push notifications
  • No offline access
  • No app store presence
  • Limited internal app
  • Poor design can cause problems like:
    – Performance issues
    – Cluttered design
    – Poor usabilityA well-designed mobile website can be a huge asset. Given the amount of internet traffic on mobile devices, it’s clear that all firms need one, but it still can’t do things a mobile app can do.

Mobile app
Mobile apps have a number of advantages over websites, i.e., push notifications and offline access, but they also have cons. However, many firms can benefit from one. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Push notifications
  • Offline access
  • Faster performance
  • Less cluttered
  • Improved SEO
  • Get on the app stores
  • Strong marketing message

    Cons

  • Costly setup
  • Costly maintenance
  • Limited use offline

The best choice
The winner depends on your firm. For firms with a limited budget looking for a mobile presence, the mobile website wins. Firms with the financial means, looking to expand their marketing and to demonstrate to clients that they are changing with the times, the mobile app wins.

For many firms, the winner is a combination of both. A two-pronged mobile strategy can leverage both a mobile site and an app for maximum distribution of your content.

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