The presence of a business on the mobile platform has become mandatory. While more than 75% of the online traffic is being generated from mobile devices,
it comes as no surprise that all businesses irrespective of their products and services want to join the mobile bandwagon. However, the big question remains- mobile app or mobile website?
Before we delve deeper into the discussion about the merits of mobile apps over a mobile set, it is important that we mean both of them. When we talk of mobile apps, we consider the native ones as well as the Hybrid mobile apps that are quite close to their counterparts. These are apps that can be installed on the mobile device and access the native functions of the device. A mobile website, on the other hand, is a responsive or mobile-friendly version of a website that is optimized for viewing on a mobile device.
When mobile apps were not as popular as they are today, mobile websites ruled the roost. It helped the business cater to those customers who were primarily using mobile devices for internet browsing. However, with the advent of smartphones and operating systems like Android and iOS, mobile apps have become quite popular and usable as well. They were not only seen as a source of entertainment but as a tool that is put to some critical and effective use.
In the current scenario, mobile apps appear to have toppled mobile websites in terms of usability as well as popularity. The popularity of mobile apps can be assessed by the fact that approximately 90% of the time spent by the users is one mobile app as compared to a mobile website- Flurry, 2015.
We will now shed some light on why mobile apps should be preferred over Mobile websites by assessing both of them on the listed parameters.
Access To Native Features
This is one of the most important features that mobile apps have in them and mobile websites lack. For a complete and immersive experience, it is imperative that the apps access the native device features like camera, gyroscope, GPS and others. A mobile website for taxi service without GPS access will not be as usable as a taxi app that can know the users’ exact location.
Apps are installed on a mobile device and hence, they can interact with the users. Push notification is one such mode of interaction using which an app can notify the users about new offers, sales, the introduction of a new service and so on. A personalized message can also be sent to the users based on their app usage information. It is not possible with the mobile website, at least for now.
When we talk about performance, we take into account the speed, navigation, etc of the app or the mobile website. An app that is well designed will always perform better than a website. This is because it resides locally on the device and it does not have to fetch its files from the servers. The mobile website has to access all its HTML, CSS, and other files from the server and display them. This eats up a lot of time and affects the performance.
As the mobile apps can send notifications, access the native functions and offer numerous other features that mobile websites cannot, the apps are better on the usability front. A user can perform a number of tasks on mobile apps that are impossible to perform on a mobile website.
The design layout of the mobile website is similar for all the mobile devices and this may cause issues on some of the devices and browsers. The issues may include performance drop and poor usability. Also, there is no exclusivity in the design as it is common for all mobile operating systems.
One of the biggest advantages of mobile apps is offline access. The app is available locally and can store a lot of cached information that can be displayed when offline. This feature comes in handy in the case of news and magazine apps where the apps store the news and make it available to the readers when it is not connected to the internet.
There are app stores for every major mobile operating system and some third-party mobile stores are also available. Hence, downloading the apps is an easy process. On the other hand, you need to type in the URL or search for the keywords to open a mobile website.
The Final Verdict
Although a mobile website brings along compatibility with it a long list of pros of mobile apps easily makes them the winner. As the mobile apps reside inside the device, it is easy for them to understand the user’s behavior and preferences and interact with them in a more personalized way. Every business works to build a user base and makes all-out efforts to engage the users at a personal level. Mobile apps are obviously the best tools to achieve this.
The post has been penned by Ashni Sharma. She is an application developer working in a leading app development firm
based in India. Ashni loves to write about the latest innovations in mobile technology, app development, and a host of other topics.