App Versus Mobile Website

At the start of this project the concept was to build a mobile first responsive website through the research stage while talking to potential users and researching online ecommerce, similar search sites and apps it became clear the project would benefit from and needs to include a mobile app.

With consumers spending more time on Apps according to – Recent studies by Flurry Analytics demonstrate that almost 90 percent of all consumer mobile usage is spent in apps.

While mobile apps and mobile websites are similar they both have different features and benefits.

What is a mobile app?

A mobile app is a smartphone or tablet application. Unlike a mobile website, a mobile app must be downloaded and installed, typically from an app marketplace, such as the Apple App Store or Android’s Google Play store.  Source: Business News

What is a mobile website?

A mobile website is designed specifically for the smaller screens and touch-screen capabilities of smartphones and tablets. It can be accessed using any mobile device’s Web browser, like Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android. Users simply type in the URL or click on a link to your website, and the website automatically detects the mobile device and redirects the viewer to the mobile version of your website.  Source: Business News

Both mobile apps and mobile websites allow customers to access a company’s information and data from devices they prefer to use the most.  By creating both an app as well as a responsive website projects offer a further helpful tool and service to connect with potential users and customers helping build up a brand and brand message.  Via my research it was found that apps do help build customer loyalty which is something businesses strive to do with some offering specific app loyalty schemes.

 Adobe’s Digital Marketing Report stated that mobile app users are more loyal to a brand than those who visit a website from a mobile device. This is attributed to two factors:

  1. Unlike web visitors who might land on your website by pure accident, the people who actually download your app are customers who already know your brand and feel they have a relationship with you.
  2. When using an app, visitors tend to spend 3-4 times longer online than they would using a mobile site. In general, mobile sites are used to obtain quick information such as checking locations and looking up business phone numbers. Mobile apps often are preferred for prolonged activities or to access exclusive content and deals.  Source : KissMetrics

With an app after the initial download it just takes one tap to open the application rather then having to open a Web browser then type in a URL which makes it easier to access.

Other advantages and disadvantages of both include:

Mobile App

  • Push notifications
  • Offline access – better for accessing content offline
  • Better performance – well designed apps can be faster than a website – help audience get content faster and keep them engaged better
  • Accessible via app stores – in front of your customers,
  • Cost – expense if have to purchase app
  • Download/setup time – having to download and setup the app
  • User time – download
  • No SEO
  • Content can be difficult to share
  • App update process

Responsive Mobile Website

  • Less maintenance as only one website.
  • One URL. Customers will be able to find your website regardless of their device.
  • Focused SEO. You can create a focused SEO strategy for your responsive website to target both desktop and mobile users at the same time.
  • Cost effective.
  • One website. Whilst one website maybe easier to maintain it may lack specific device functionality and may frustrate some users.
  • Compatibility. Older devices may experience some compatibility issues. Need to take this into account during development.
  • User experience. In an effort to strike a balance on all platforms, user experience may suffer some.

See the below chart to see how many times the most popular apps in the world were download in one month – May 2016 (source – Codementor Community):

It’s clear that there are advantages and disadvantages to both models and a project would benefit from having both a responsive mobile website and a mobile app.  It is clear that responsive web design shouldn’t be a replacement for a mobile optimised site or app this diagram below highlights the differences:

In reality the costs of developing both may influence a business when deciding which option however as this project is conceptual if costs where not an issue then having both options would definitely benefit both the user by giving them more accessibility options and also the retailer as it gives them more outlets for their product/products