(This blog article was updated on 2 January 2018.)
Asking if a mobile website or an app is a better option for you, you won’t get one clear answer. It always depends on the exact case. However, this blog article delivers you some useful tips so you can find out what’s best for you.
A mobile website is accessible for everybody. An app has to be downloaded first – a little extra effort compared to the mobile website.
It’s great when you post news or new photos on your mobile website. But: How do these news find their way to your target group? A website update is not communicated to people. Wishes like "visit our website more often for regular updates" are seldom read and even more seldom fulfilled.
Apps work completely different in this matter: Push Notifications (somewhat an SMS from the app to the smartphone) can automatically notify app users of updates like "see our exclusive report about XY now in our app". This is a big advantage when you think of mobile app vs. website.
In times of information overflow, distraction is a very important topic. A mobile website constantly competes with other tabs, windows and other mobile websites on the smartphone of your potential client. Apps however carry hardly any distraction risk. An app is a self-contained system that minimises distractions and makes the user engage with the content even more.
WAITING TIME / PERFORMANCE
Once an app is downloaded, there won’t be any annoying waiting time or slow loading times, because: apps can also work offline! If done well, apps often run more "smoothly" than mobile websites because you’re not dependent on the internet speed or browser performance of your smartphone.
On the other hand, mobile websites re-load again and again every time you visit them. When you’re on the road or in a Wifi-free zone, a mobile website is not available, an app is.
A mobile app boosts brand loyalty much more than a mobile website could ever do, because the app icon is constantly visible on the app user’s screen. Thinking of mobile websites: Once you surf away from them, they are out of your mind.
The development of an app is, in most cases, more expensive that the creation of a mobile website. This also accounts for updates in the future.
As you can see, the question "mobile website or app" comes up with many different answers. Every business has different requirements and different customers. An online shop should for sure focus on their mobile website, a native app might be obsolete in this case. A publishing house on the other hand can massively benefit from delivering articles straight to the readers via the app, rather than having a mobile website that nobody sees.