It’s extremely rare these days to come across a website that isn’t optimised for mobile. In fact, not having a mobile-optimised website is actually punishable from Google, the all-powerful overlords that rule the internet. Who, actually, are also planning to change their search engine to a mobile-first index. So you’d better get your act together if you want to stand a chance at competing in a mobile world.
But is a mobile website the best bet for your business?
I’m almost certain that you’ll have at least heard of an app. It’s incredibly likely that you will actually have an app sitting on your smartphone right now. Probably in the from of a game or a social media app or a banking app.
Have you ever considered whether your business would benefit more from an app?
There’s definitely benefits and disadvantages to each of these options and many factors will determine which is the best option for your business.
- Do you have the budget for an app?
- Would your customers benefit from an app more than a website?
- What kind of features are you looking for?
Maybe the ideal set up for you is to have one of each.
Before making any decisions, let’s go through what the features of each of them are and what sets them apart.
Mobile Website Pros
First of all, a mobile website is going to cost a lot less than a mobile app. If budget is something you’re struggling to come across, or you’re company can probably be classed as “small”, then an app is going to be a bit out of your price range.
Plus, a mobile website tends to come along with a full desktop website. It’s rare that anyone would build a complete website without mobile optimisation being included in the price. So if, heaven forbid, you haven’t got a website yet, getting one set up will mean that you will by proxy, get a mobile website.
Alternatively, if you already have a website, it’s likely that you already have a mobile website. If for some sick, twisted reason the developer didn’t optimise your website to be mobile responsive, you should hunt them down and find out why they just want to suck all the happiness out of the world. Then you should find someone with a heart, and some coding knowledge, to make your current site mobile responsive.
Voila! You have a mobile website.
As a mobile website is essentially a website that responds to the size of the screen it’s being viewed on, this means that it can be accessed across all devices and platforms just as a website normally is. This includes desktop, mobile and tablet, and platforms like iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. In order for an app to be downloaded across multiple platforms, it would need to be developed multiple times for each app store.
One feature of websites that I think is very overlooked and underestimated is their shareability. It is incredibly easy to share a website URL with anyone. If it is just someone messaging their friends the URL of a website with some shopping deals they’ve found, or a PR stunt a huge company has paid thousands for to get people to visit their website. These were both as easy to share as each other and both yielded instant results in the form of visitors.
The process isn’t quite as smooth with an app. It is possible to share a link, but this would only lead to the app in the app store, where the user would then need to download the app. This would then only lead them to the homepage of the app, rather than a particular page. Plus you would need to make sure that it’s the right app store for that user’s device.
It is important to note the fact that apps are only available for app stores. This means that they have a much lower chance of being found than a website, which can be included in multiple search engines, directories and can be linked to from pretty much anywhere on the web. This gives them a really high potential reach.
This can also be influenced by things like SEO. SEO optimisation will increase your website’s chance of being shown higher in the results in search engines like Google, for searches that relate to your business and the services you provide. Putting you in the perfect place for when potential customers are looking for something you can offer them.
Mobile App Pros
One of the benefits of an app is the ability to use it offline. Although the user will need to be online to download the app, once it has been installed, all that content has essentially been downloaded to that device.
This means that you can then deliver content to those customers without an internet connection. As websites require users to be online, you now have a whole lot less competition to deal with when trying to get that user’s attention.
This can be a brilliant way to build brand loyalty as they will associate you with being a provider of helpful or insightful content or services when the user is unable or unwilling to connect to the internet. Don’t lose contact with your customers just because the connection in Starbucks is terrible today.
Another way apps help you keep in contact with customers is through their ability to send push notifications. Sending messages straight to the user’s phone gives you the ability to keep reminding them about your brand. It allows you to send information about any of the latest deals you might have on, or simply send them a nice little message just to let them know you’re still there.
This personalisation can help give your brand a bit more of a personality and even build more of a relationship with your customers as well. And with any good relationship, loyalty will usually follow. By providing your beloved users with brilliant customer service, you are much more likely to retain those customers. The fact that those users have downloaded your app in the first place shows that they are invested in your brand to a certain extent. So by giving them that little extra bit of attention that you wouldn’t be able to do with a website, you are only sweetening the deal by making them feel valued.
Another major benefit you will see with a well built app is much better performance than a mobile website. Apps generally store their data on the device it has been installed on, so can access it much faster than a website, which has to access it from a web server. A faster overall process creates a better experience for the user and will therefore encourage them to keep using the app.
There is also the ability to store information about the user in the app to help improve the experience. A good example of this would be an app for a retailer. If a customer is a frequent user of the app, their previous purchasing history and buying information can be used to show them items they are more likely to buy. This can make processes extremely streamlined, reducing the time it takes for users to make a purchasing decision. It can also add to the personalisation aspect previously mentioned.
Another thing to consider is how much time we all actually spend on our apps. About 85% of the whole time we spend on our smartphones is spent on apps, which equates to over 2 hours! People are definitely willing to invest their time and effort into an app. So if you feel you have something to offer, it is likely that the customers that download your app will be loyal.
Source: Tech Crunch
The need for businesses to utilise mobile platforms has boomed massively over the last few years and it shows no signs of slowing down. Soon, to even stand a chance of competing against your competition on Google, your website will have to be mobile optimised. It is therefore necessary that you adopt some form of mobile platform to promote and present your brand.
The goals for your business should be the biggest factors to consider when it comes to deciding between the two. If your aim is to promote your brand through content creation, SEO and paid advertising, you are much better fitted to a website. You can easily share your brand, build it and attract customers through a medium that is easily accessible to anyone.
If you want to provide your customers with an interface that is streamlined, easy to use and is likely to be used over and over again then an app can be a great solution, providing you have the budget for it. However, you should consider that this could be done on a website as well. If your product is more like a game or tool, such as an application for the smartphone camera, then your option definitely needs to be an app.
You should also realise that these options can and most often are, used in conjunction with each other. Apart from games and tools, it is mostly the case that a business will have a website as well as an app and they probably started with the website.
If you are small/medium business or are simply just starting out, your best bet will be a website to get yourself going. Once you have got to the size where you need to start thinking of new ways to connect with your customers and push your brand out as an innovator, an app can be a brilliant way to go.