Ever since Be Visible started building mobile websites for clients, we have fielded this question: “What is the difference between a mobile website and a mobile app and which one do I need?” So here are the basics:
The Difference Between Mobile Websites & Mobile Apps
A Mobile Website is similar to any other desktop website, in that is created with HTML pages and is accessed via an Internet browser. A mobile website is different from a desktop site because it is accessed via an Internet-enabled mobile device over Wi-Fi, 3G, & 4G and is formatted to fit a mobile phone’s screen size and be responsive to touch screen functionality. It displays similar content as your desktop site i.e. text, photos, and videos but it the information is accessed by mobile features such as “click-to-call” or “click-for-directions.”
A Mobile Application, or App, is an actual application (think: software) that is downloaded and subsequently, installed onto a mobile device. Mobile users access content through the app itself as opposed to an Internet browser. Mobile users must find and download the app in a dedicated store like Apple’s App Store or Google Play. The app may have similar features to a website, but generally has additional functionality based on the features of the phone (such as a camera), and does not require Internet access to use all of its features.
The Advantages of Mobile Websites over Mobile Applications
- A well-built mobile website will be useable on most types of mobile phones currently and on all mobile Internet browsers
- Mobile websites can be changed at any time for any reason and the changes are updated immediately
- Mobile websites can be found in search engines and can be shared easily with others across Social Media
- Mobile websites are less complicated to develop than mobile apps – which must be developed for iPhone, Android, & BlackBerry separately and must have constant upgrades and bug fixes
- Mobile websites cost significantly less, often 10 to 100 times less over the long run, to develop and maintain than mobile applications
- On average, 26% of people download an app once then never use it again
Advantages of Mobile Applications over Mobile Websites
- Mobile applications are good for personalized experiences that people will need to access on a near-daily if not more often basis (such as the Facebook application)
- Mobile applications can utilize additional features of a phone such as a camera or microphone
- Mobile applications can be used with or without an Internet connection
If you have a business, you’ll have to decide which option better suits the needs and goals of your business. Currently we are building a mobile website and a mobile app for the same client, that is a large sports and fitness center. The website will be mostly for the public and the app will be used by members to access class schedules, etc.
Most businesses go the route of a mobile website over a mobile application due to the money and time required to develop and app.
Have questions about mobile? Just ask!