Mobile App or Mobile Site? The Pros and Cons

by | September 5, 2014

mobile friendly

When it comes to your business, going mobile has become increasingly necessary. You don’t have to work in an IT department or be super “techie” to know this. But whether to go the app or webpage route (or even both!) is a decision which requires careful consideration.


Both routes to mobile harmony share a handful of similarities and have parallel goals (e.g. accessibility, speed, growth, etc). Choosing the right option for your business – whether it be large or small, a startup advertising firm or an international chain restaurant – is key to reaping the benefits the mobile world has to offer. And with expected response times now hovering around two seconds or less, the majority of mobile users won’t be willing to play the waiting game.


1) Cost

If your company is well established, then cost may be the last thing on your mind. However, if you’re the CEO of a young startup or if your company has a smaller budget, price is likely a deciding factor.

Believe it or not, creating a mobile-friendly website doesn’t have to be a super pricey endeavor. In fact, creating a mobile version of your site can cost as low as $7.20/mo with an annual plan.

Because mobile optimization is now a necessity, responsive web design (RWD) is quickly becoming the standard web architecture.  Responsive web sites can be viewed easily on any device without the need to navigate to a separate, mobile-only version of a website. If you’re considering a website redesign anyway, get a developer on board who is comfortable with responsive design.

Creating a mobile app generally costs a minimum of $3,000, not including additional downloading fees. If you’re on a budget, a mobile webpage may be the best way to go.


2) Accessibility


Accessibility is one of the few factors that is a priority for all, regardless of company size or budget. Every business that goes mobile aims to make their products or services more accessible to clients. Although you never want to lose sight of what you’re marketing and who your audience is, mobile sites tend to be more accessible than mobile apps.

Mobile sites do not require a download, can reach users on almost all mobile devices (not just iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.), and can be shared within seconds by copying and pasting a URL. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are generally more difficult to get a hold of since they require a download, and depending on the size of the app, may eat up a mobile user’s data plan. However, apps do have a certain panache and younger generations tend to prefer them. While mob webpages are all around more widely accessible, in many cases a company’s desired audience can be an equally important factor to consider.

Note: if you want to go the app route, it is a good idea to also give your users the option to use a mobile-friendly version of your site. Many people like to use apps for certain things and websites for other things, but it’s always wise to give the customer options.  And because mobile is the new standard, every site should be optimized for mobile to some extent, even if the company already has an app.


3) Speed

When it comes to the mobile world, the speed at which your clients can access information is the most important factor, by a long shot! Your mobile site or app’s overall performance can make or break its success.

Design and architecture directly correlates to operational speed. Mobile webpages tend to be easier to create and utilize a very simple architecture (if done right), which can be great for performance. However, many people find that mobile sites can be somewhat lacking because they typically don’t offer all the features of the standard website. For this reason, and if given the option, many people will actually choose to stay on the standard site even if it isn’t optimized for mobile. We’ve all done this at one time or another!

When it comes to creating either a mobile webpage or app, filling it with links and graphics may be tempting (and look pretty), but too much is often equivalent to massive dips in performance. There are numerous ways to speed up your mobile webpage or app (such as replacing image buttons with HTML) that are well worth learning about.


Final Thoughts

Every business is different and requires a unique approach to mobile. While a gaming or social media company (such as Snapchat, for instance), may only require a robust mobile app to be wildly successful, the majority of businesses now require an online portal or storefront that should be optimized for mobile to some extent. A certain percentage of businesses (such as airline companies, for example) reap the benefits of having both a mobile-optimized website and accompanying app because it provides customers with greater usability and flexibility (such as tracking a flight or checking in on the road).

Whether mobile app, mobile site, or both, the most important factor to consider is your customer. Give your users a superior mobile experience, and watch your mobile-enhanced business thrive.


Apica Product Team