Mobile website vs mobile app: Which option is best for your growing business?
It’s no secret that mobile device activity is increasing. More than 55% of website traffic worldwide now comes from mobile devices. This means you need to ensure your audience can reach you via a tablet or smartphone if you want to engage and convert more customers.
Making your website “mobile responsive,” or creating a “mobile-friendly website” is probably the easiest way to do this. Most website builder platforms now include mobile responsive themes as standard. But, sometimes, it might make sense to go a step further, and actually convert your website into an app. After all, smartphone users spend the vast majority of their time on smartphones accessing apps.
So, how do you decide which strategy is best?
The Benefits of Having a Mobile Website
These days, a mobile-friendly website is a necessity for every business. Over 73% of web designers believe a non-responsive design is one of the top reasons why people abandon a site. If you’re looking for a simple and cost-effective way to make your site more mobile-friendly, creating a mobile website is a great choice.
A mobile website is simply a website, or version of your website, designed to scale to suit any sized device, from tablets down to smartphones. Some can even feature mobile-specific features, like “click-to-call” buttons.
Creating a mobile website, rather than relying on an app, also has a few distinct advantages for both businesses and users, such as:
- Accessibility: Mobile websites are instantly accessible to any user with a mobile browser. Alternatively, apps require users to download and install an app from a marketplace before they can view the content. This makes it harder to reach a broad audience.
- Compatibility: Most mobile websites can operate well on any device, regardless of their operating system. However, some apps need specific versions to be developed for different devices, such as iPhones and Android phones.
- Shareability: Since mobile websites are accessible via a URL, it’s easier for your users to share pages and specific pieces of content with their friends and loved ones. It’s harder to share a link to an app in the same way.
- Lifecycle: If your customers get tired of your business or your app, they can simply remove it from their device. However, no-one can delete your website but you. This makes it easier to ensure you can continuously engage with your customers over time.
- Time and cost: Mobile website development is generally less time consuming and expensive than creating a native mobile app. This is particularly true if you want to build an app with unique features, or support for multiple platforms.
The Benefits of Creating a Mobile App
So, if mobile websites are so valuable, why should you make your website an app?
The first answer is that statistics show mobile apps can be far more beneficial to brands. While mobile users only spend around 17% of their time checking out websites through mobile browsers, they spend up to 83% of their time on apps. This indicates that users prefer the app experience.
Studies have also shown that conversion rates, engagement, and other key metrics are generally higher for mobile apps than websites.
Creating app allows you to tap into a host of unique benefits such as:
- More features: Mobile apps can take advantage of all the various functions on a user’s phone, from swiping to GPS and camera components. This means you have more features you can experiment with to engage and delight your customers.
- Speed: Because mobile apps are downloaded and installed onto a device, they often run a lot faster than a mobile website. They don’t need to load all the images and functions from the web. Instead, they pull information from the files that exist on the device.
- User experience: Even when websites are optimized for mobile, they can be difficult to navigate, and not as user-friendly as an app. Mobile apps offer a simpler layout, and a more comfortable experience. They can even accept touch-screen input with higher accuracy.
- Convenience: Though users have to download an app to use it, the app then stores all of their usage history, settings, and information behind a single button. This means they don’t necessarily have to enter the same details every time they log into an app.
- Control: With a mobile website, there’s always a chance your visitor will click away from your site, or be distracted by something else on the web. With an app, you control the entire experience. There are no distractions to boost your chances of losing customers.
- Improved brand presence: While marketing and SEO can boost your brand presence with your mobile website, your mobile app places your brand logo directly on a customer’s screen, so they’re constantly exposed to your company and its branding.
- Push notifications: Mobile apps also give you an opportunity to engage and connect with your audience in unique ways. One study found that push notifications have an average open rate of around 20%, compared to just 2.1% for emails.
So Which Is Best?
So, which strategy should you choose? Do you stick with a simple and cost-effective mobile website, or invest in better brand awareness, engagement, and conversion rates with a mobile app?
The simple answer is you actually don’t need to choose between the two. The best strategy could actually be to invest in both. There’s nothing stopping you from creating a mobile-friendly website, great for attracting everyday consumers online, and a mobile app for your loyal buyers.
A mobile app will help you to boost engagement among your consumers, increase your chances of conversions, and build loyalty throughout your customer base. A mobile website will ensure you can still attract customers from a range of different sources, including SEO.
Start with a mobile-friendly website, and then, when you recognize a growing number of repeat customers visiting your website from mobile devices, consider converting that site into an app.
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