Mobile phones rule the world and it's hard to argue with that. Today, there are more thanmobile phone users in the world, which is 65% of the population. And all this audience needs to be satisfied with high-quality mobile applications and fast mobile websites. However, not all businesses can develop two solutions at once, and they are on the verge of choosing between a mobile application and a mobile site.
In this article, we will compare mobile app vs website, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each option so that you can make the right decision for your business.
Difference between app and website
First things first, let’s start with the basics. A mobile website is a bunch of pages that are interconnected and accessible via browser. With the help of specialized approaches, they can adapt to different screen sizes or completely change their design patterns depending on a device.
Mainly, mobile websites are created to deliver content and they aren't too interactive as a rule. The first thing that you’ll notice when start a website vs mobile app comparison is the Internet connection. Customers need it to use full capabilities of the website. From the financial point, the difference between a website and mobile apps lies in a price range. In a majority of cases, websites are more budget-friendly.
Meanwhile, mobile applications is software that was developed to work on a spesific mobile platform like iOS and Android. These apps can be downloaded directly on the device via platform-related stores. When comparing mobile site vs app you can otice that advantages of mobile applications often surpass benefits from having the mobile website to some extent.
However, this requires more thorough analysis to define whether it's so for your concrete case. It's worth noting that many big companies have both a good-looking website and an advanced mobile app with functionality tailored to their target audience and business needs.
Benefits of mobile websites for business
Before we start our app versus mobile website we’ll go a little from afar since 5-6 years ago, we thought that a standard website is the main and only thing necessary for prosperity. However, the development of technology has made its own adjustments in our lives and the share of mobile traffic on the Internet is growing every year.
More and more people are embracing the convenience of mobile devices and surfing through them, leaving their laptops and computers aside. For example, in 2020 the share of mobile traffic wasand the growth is not going to stop there. As a result, businesses now have a new need to create optimized websites for mobile devices, which are a pretty good alternative to native applications.
Advantages of having a mobile website: Coverage of the audience
In fact, there are two web development approaches focused on the creation of mobile-friendly websites:
Put simply, such websites adapt to any screen size and look great on any device. They act like a fluid and squeeze or scale up their elements depending on the environment. This approach is considered to be the most cost-effective as it requires single website design and code base.
Responsive vs Adaptive Design: Which's Best for You?
The adaptive approach, on the contrary, uses static layouts which are designed specifically for a certain device or screen resolution. In other words, a website defines from what device a user is currently surfing the web and displays the layout created for this very device. This is a more expensive approach as every layout is designed and developed separately considering screen size of a device.
So, now you understand what it means to be a mobile-friendly. Then, let's take a closer look at benefits of mobile websites and thereafter consider their disadvantages.
When there’s a choice between app or website, think about compatibility since compatibility is one of the main advantages of mobile websites. Your target audience can use the product regardless of their devices and operating systems those devices run on. The mobile application, on the contrary, can function only within one platform and you need a separate team of specialists to add the support for others (e.g. iOS app won't run on Android). In other words, the mobile website provides you with broader reach.
Another reason why a website is better than app and the advantage of mobile websites is that your customers don't have to install anything to start using their functionality. Everything accessible through several taps in the browser while mobile apps require to be found, downloaded, and installed before using.
It's hard to omit such important aspect as updates when considering mobile website vs. mobile app. The updated version of a website is available to users as soon as it's loaded to the server while for mobile apps this process is a bit more complicated and time-consuming. Every update must be verified by Google or Apple before it will be available to users. This may take up to two days for App Store and two hours for Google Play.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO optimization is one of the main features that help websites in the app vs mobile website fight. It's a great way to generate more leads and convert them into customers. The potential customers enter specific requests to a search engine and see your website in search results (of course only in the case it's properly optimized). Put simply, this optimization approach drives more potential customers to your website. Moreover, they are directly interested in a product or service you provide.
What concerns mobile apps, they are mainly searched within their marketplaces. Their ranking in search engines depends on how users rate them and, respectively, their promotion is a way harder.
As it was already mentioned, you need a separate specialist or even team specialized in development for one or another platform (it depends on project complexity). Thus, if you want to have an app for both popular platforms, you have to hire app developers since developing for these two platforms differs. They have different architecture and principles of interaction with users.
We’ve made a detailed overview of website development cost in 2021.
Respectively, the costs are noticeably higher if compared with the responsive website having a single codebase that works across all devices through a browser.
Benefits of having a mobile website
Disadvantages of mobile websites
To completely cover the 'mobile apps vs mobile website' question, we should consider both negative sides of each solution as well. As we've already touched upon benefits of having a mobile website, it's time to consider disadvantages.
No offline access
Unlike mobile apps, users can't access the full-featured website if they are offline. They can only view previously cached pages with content, but cannot interact with any elements as this requires sending queries to the server via the internet.
When choosing app or mobile website keep in mind that mobile websites can't make full use of device capabilities as mobile applications can. This means some features of device hardware and platform capabilities can't be engaged on the mobile website or may work unstable. It's worth mentioning that Android and iOS have different limitations and the feature unavailable for one platform can work on another one.
Major limitations on iOS
- No access to push notifications;
- No integration with Siri;
- ARKit, Touch ID, Face ID, Bluetooth, and battery information are unavailable for websites.
Major limitations on Android
- No access to the calendar;
- Such telephony features as calls and SMS are restricted.
Nevertheless, mobile websites can access GPS, camera and some other features with the help of various APIs and libraries.
One of the key advantages of mobile apps over websites is that they deliver a top-notch user experience. That's because mobile apps designed specifically for a certain device and take into consideration it's peculiarities and screen size. Meantime, websites can provide a not-so-great user experience due to technical limitations that come with browser basis and the overall cheapness of mobile websites.
Disadvantages of having a mobile website
Benefits of mobile apps for business
In order to fully understand the usefulness of mobile applications, it is worth referring to statistics. It's no secret that we spend a lot of time on our smartphones. For example, in the second quarter of 2020, the average American spenton a smartphone, which is 10% more than in the first quarter.
People spend a lot of their time on mobile phones and this fact can be beneficial for your business.
In this case, it is quite obvious why a business should think about developing its own mobile application. Companies that have adopted a mobile strategy can count on a higher percentage of engaged customers who are more likely to convert and pay for a company's products or services. Now, let’s talk about the strengths of mobile apps.
Comparing mobile apps vs mobile website and talking about advantages and disadvantages of mobile applications, it's hard to omit the fact that mobile apps are much more capable in contrary to mobile websites. This way, if you need to engage specific features of a device (e.g. accelerometers) then a mobile app seems to be a more suitable option for you.
Even though the IT industry is advancing rapidly, traditional mobile applications are still the best way to provide users with the desired functionality and provide them with a good level of convenience in usage.
This is another obvious advantage of mobile apps. Being initially designed to fit the specific device and OS environment, they make navigation and, respectively, usage much easier with the help of gestures as well as native UI elements.
Offline accessibility is one of the main advantages of mobile app over website. You should consider the creation of mobile app in case your product concept implies offline access to certain part of it's functionality. This trick doesn't work properly with mobile websites.
Brand promotion opportunities
One of the main advantages of mobile apps for business is an opportunity to promote a company brand with their help. It's a quite popular way of promotion that's adopted by a variety of companies from different industries. What's more, notifications make it extremely easy to remind your customers of your company and ship important information (e.g. special offers and discounts).
For instance, such well-known company as Coca-Cola, which seems to be far from technology, has a mobile application created mainly for promotional reasons. Another prominent example is IKEA with it's AR-based app that both drives more sales and promote company's brand.
What are the benefits of mobile apps for business
Disadvantages of mobile apps
Each approach has it's own pros and cons. Let's consider disadvantages of mobile applications.
Mobile app development is always associated with significant expenses. The mobile app should be created specifically for the operating system. For example, if you have developed an app for Android and as a result, you will not be able to run it on iOS. As a result, to reach the maximum audience, you need to develop two separate applications, which is quite a significant investment.
However, the business has a way out of this situation. There is always an option for developing hybrid or cross-platform solutions fueled with Flutter technology. This kind of apps has its own beneficial advantages and always more profitable for business.
Maintenance & upgrade
You have to support apps on a regular basis. What does it mean? Apps for both platforms should be regularly updated to new versions containing bug fixes, upgrades etc. Meantime, websites require less maintenance due to only one since the website is only on one platform which is a benefit of a mobile site over an app for businesses.
Digital products almost always contain small issues which may appear through some time after release. That's why in Cleveroad we offer our customers three weeks of free maintenance to make sure the product is completely bug-free. Even if you have no bugs, you have to constantly advance your app and make it better (e.g. add new features). Otherwise, users will find a better option.
Respectively, the maintenance and upgrade take time and money.
Long and complicated approvals
Any mobile application, regardless of the platform, goes through the approval process. And on both platforms, this process is quite long and can turn into a headache. This the main difference between mobile app and website since you don’t need approve your website.
For example, on iOS, the app passes a strict moderation that relies on App Store Review Guidelines. The average time for app approval is around four days. After that period, the product owner receives a verdict. If the app is bug-free and meets all rules, this app will be released to the App Store. Otherwise, it’ll be rejected.
The Android release is also not devoid of its own nuances. The verification process can take up to 7 days or even longer, and the list of requirements is also quite large. The only advantage Google Play Store approval is you will always be shown the reason of rejection and what elements should be fixed to pass the verification. Meantime on iOS, you will be lost in guessing why your application was not accepted.
Disadvantages of mobile apps for business
Mobile app vs mobile website
Now it’s time to proceed to the core part of our article. Underneath you can see a comparison of mobile website vs mobile app. We’ve compiled the main criteria in our comparison for you to help you choose between a mobile website or app.
|Criteria||Mobile app||Mobile-friendly Website|
Great performance, use of device-related features, convenience
Limited by necessity to account for all devices
Vase options (push notifications, various settings, widgets, and more)
Provides some, but not-so-great customization features
All data can be stored on the device, works great without a connection
Possible, but limited
Various versions for different platforms require individual approaches and maintenance for each version.
One product for all scenarios with cheaper and easier maintenance
Limited to a device-related audience (tablet or mobile phones)
Accessible to everyone with an internet connection. Can be shared
High development and maintenance cost
Relatively low development and maintenance cost
Still can't decide what is the better option for you? Let's brainstorm together! Contact our tech-savvy managers and they'll estimate both variants of project implementation to suggest you the most suitable option.
Also, don't hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter if you like this article.
Mobile websites are created to deliver content and they aren't too interactive as a rule. The first difference with a mobile application lies in the internet connection. Customers need it to use full capabilities of the website. From a financial point, the difference between a website and mobile apps lies in a price range. In a majority of cases, websites are more budget-friendly.
Talking about a mobile app, it's a piece of software created to run on a certain platform like iOS or Android. They are fully-featured, can be downloaded on app stores as well as used in both offline and online mode.
- Extensive capabilities. Even though the IT industry is advancing rapidly, traditional mobile applications are still the best way to provide users with the desired functionality and provide them with a good level of convenience in usage.
- User experience. Being initially designed to fit the specific device and OS environment, they make navigation and, respectively, usage much easier with the help of gestures as well as native UI elements.
- Offline access. It is possible to use mobile apps without a connection since all data can be stored locally on the device.
- Compatibility. Your target audience can use the product regardless of their devices and operating systems those devices run on.
- Updates. The updated version of a website is available to users as soon as it's loaded to the server while for mobile apps this process is a bit more complicated and time-consuming. Every update must be verified by Google or Apple before it will be available to users.
- Cost-effectiveness. If you want to have an app for both popular platforms, you have to hire Android and iOS developers since developing for these two platforms differs.
- SEO-friendliness. With a thorough SEO approach, it is much easier to gain new visits and leads.
- Maintenance and upgrade
- Long approval process
- No offline access
- Platform limitations
- User experience
Evgeniy Altynpara is a CTO and member of the Forbes Councils’ community of tech professionals. He is an expert in software development and technological entrepreneurship and has 10+years of experience in digital transformation consulting in Healthcare, FinTech, Supply Chain and Logistics
Give us your impressions about this article
Give us your impressions about this article
Your article helps me to find the most important tips. Thank you for your information.