What are the criteria that determine whether you need a mobile app or simply investing in a website?

According to Statista, there are approximately 3.6 billion smartphone users in the world. It is without a doubt that the rise of mobile technology dominates the world. The “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organisations seeking to establish a mobile presence. The two primary means to establish a mobile presence are through a mobile website, and platform dependent native mobile application. In this article, we will be sharing the different criteria to consider to help you decide whether  a mobile app or a mobile version of your website is what will work best for your business. Mobile websites and apps can look very similar at first glance, and determining which is most suited to your needs will depend upon a number of factors including target market, resources needed to build the site, purpose, upgraded features and marketability.

  1. Target market. Providing a mobile application to your customers can get them invested in your organisation in a way that a mobile website cannot. Their choice to install your app can be an opportunity to foster brand recognition with your users in that they’ve opted in to hosting you on a device that they will use all the time, and often, something that never leaves their side. Finally, a mobile website is ultimately nothing more than a skin, and can only be as feature rich as any other browser based experience. Which isn’t to say that it’s not perfectly adequate for the majority of what you probably want to do, but there are definitely limitations to it that are not there with an application.
  1. Resources to build.  The relative cost of a mobile application versus a mobile theme for your website can be substantial. As stated previously, you need to have a specific business target for your app that goes above and beyond just allowing customers to use your site from a mobile device.

Building a mobile version of your site can be very simple and low rent, to highly customised and expansive. It all depends on what your business goals are for mobile use. Any serious business should have, if not a fully dedicated mobile site, a mobile friendly theme for their website. Implementing a mobile theme can be as simple as a single page that offers a search/return feature, or as complex as a complete re-theme of your whole site. Unless you’re a major online service provider or retailer such as ebay, facebook, amazon, etc, you’re likely better off keeping it simple. The lower relative cost of a mobile theme for your website should definitely be a factor in your decision making. You can do a lot more with your mobile site rather than investing in both. Finally, there are literally dozens of services that, with a relatively small monthly fee, can make very short work of a mobile web presence with literally no development effort.

  1. Intended Purpose. If your goal is to provide a user experience that feels more like a gaming interface or a computer program than a website, or if you need access to a user’s phone storage and native functions, then an app is probably going to be required.Starting from scratch with a mobile app means that you can do something entirely different with your app rather than just skinning your website. It can be a strong selling point if you have ideas you’d like to try for design but you don’t want to change what works on your existing site.

A mobile site shares certain principles of an application in that you want to focus your efforts on providing a very clean simple interface for your visitors. The first thing to consider when moving your site to a mobile theme is what exactly would someone going to your website from a mobile device be looking for? Most often this would be basic information and search capability.If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily maintained, shared between users, and found on search engines, then a mobile-friendly responsive website is the logical choice.

  1. Upgrade Features. The maintenance cycle for mobile applications can be a headache. Different kinds of devices, especially on the Android side of things, can require quite a bit more support and ongoing maintenance as Operating System updates are circulated and as customers upgrade devices over time. The maintenance cycle for a mobile site is much more controllable. While new updates for mobile devices come out fairly regularly, browser standards have a much longer lead in time, giving you the advantage to stay ahead without having to work too hard on it. Your mobile website is exactly that. Your mobile website. You have complete control of the code base and the content. You don’t have to rely on your customers choosing to update remote software when prompted, and you’re not at the mercy of the release schedule for mobile devices or operating systems.
  1. Marketability. Mobile applications also allow you to leverage mobile advertising. This means that while customers are using your application, you could be earning advertising revenue from targeted advertising. Building native mobile applications can represent a considerable investment both initially, as well as ongoing, as you may need to perform updates for security purposes, or even just to keep up with changes within iOS or Android systems. The choice to invest in development of mobile applications should be made when there is a clear return either in terms of an under-reached audience, or in being able to expand your service base to a specific business need. Starting from scratch with a mobile app means that you can do something entirely different with your app rather than just skinning your website. It can be a strong selling point if you have ideas you’d like to try for design but you don’t want to change what works on your existing site.Increasingly, responsive web design is becoming the new standard for websites that are not only mobile-friendly, but that can scale to any sized device – from desktop down to tablet and handheld smartphones.

If you are planning a mobile strategy for your organisation, we can help you make informed decisions with the right project plan to match your goals. Please  contact us for additional information, or use the website form to send an inquiry.

For those of you that are discovering Ngakkan Nyaagu (NGNY) for the first time, we are an Indigenous Digital Agency. NGNY is a 100% Aboriginal owned business and has been operating for 5 years. We have been engaged to deliver website, mobile app, graphic design and hosting services for Indigenous organisations and businesses, non-Indigenous organisations, businesses, government and enterprise. We are Supply Nation Certified, NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce (NSWICC) registered and B-Corporation Certified. We have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way and have a lot to share with Indigenous businesses and the buyers of their products and services. (ngny.com.au)