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Mobile Websites vs Mobile Applications

As a business owner, you are bound to have an online presence and with this day and age where 86% of the population is using smartphones, you have to establish a mobile presence for your business organization. So the question that should come to mind is whether to create a mobile app for users to download or a mobile website, or perhaps both. Both mobile apps and websites can look very familiar, but in terms of functionality a lot more can be achieved from an app. But the factors that should be considered while deciding between the two are target audiences, available budget, intended purpose and required features.

So what’s the difference between a mobile website and a mobile application?

Before we can go ahead and factor in the advantages of one upon the other, we first have to know the basic difference between the two. Both mobile websites and mobile applications are accessed on handled devices such as iPhones, Android phones, Windows Phones, etc and tablets.

A mobile website is almost equivalent to a normal website just that it is designed for a handheld device which uses Wifi, 4g or 3g to fetch data on the go. It is optimized for touch screens and smaller displays. Like any normal website, mobile websites can display text, images and video. They can also access mobile specific features such as click-to-call and location access.

Apps are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on mobile devices, rather being rendered within a browser. Users visit device specific app stores such as Apple’s App Store, Android’s Play Store or Windows Phone Store in order to find and download apps for any given operating system. The app may pull content and data from the internet, in a similar fashion to a website, or it may download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.

So, which is better – an application or a mobile website?

When there arises the question of whether to build a mobile website or a mobile application, the primary factor is completely dependent on your end goals. If you want to develop an interactive game then your best bet will be an app, whereas if you just want to showcase your website in a mobile friendly format to the widest possible audience then a mobile website should get your job done. In some cases you may need to decide you need both a mobile website and mobile application, but having a mobile app without having a mobile website in place is absolutely unreasonable.

So, creating a mobile website should be considered as the first step in creating a mobile web presence, whereas a mobile application is useful when there arises the need to achieve certain functionalities which cannot be achieved from within a web browser.

Advantages of Mobile Websites and Mobile Native Applications:

Mobile Websites
  • A mobile website is instantly accessible to users across a range of devices.
  • A mobile website is compatible for all mobile devices irrespective of their operating systems and browsers.
  • A mobile website is easily upgradable as anything changed in the database is instantly reflected.
  • A mobile website is cost effective and particularly easy to achieve.
  • A mobile website once created requires less to none support at later stages.
Mobile Applications
  • A native application is feasible for interactivity or gaming needs.
  • A native application is great for personalization, which means users can set and access customized screens.
  • A native application is useful for accessing mobile-specific functions like accessing Camera, Gps, etc.
  • An application can easily achieve complex calculations accepting user inputs, etc.
  • An application can work without an internet or wireless connection.

In conclusion:

In this day and age of technology, smartphone sales are reaching above the everest and as the days go by, more and more population will be using smartphones and handheld devices. So in this era the need to develop atleast a mobile website is very essential and if necessary, bearing the expenses, native mobile applications should also be developed which will only help your organization in achieving the global presence that it demands.