The Difference between an App and a Mobile Website
Are you wrongly being sold an app?
With the development and increasing popularity of smart phones for web browsing, more and more businesses are looking to have their content mobile phone accessible. With terms like mobile website and apps flying around not everybody is sure of the difference and in some cases can lead to businesses being sold the wrong solution for their mobile accessibility requirements.
A mobile website is a website built to render and work specifically on handheld (mobile) devices, built to be usable on a smaller screen, and built to work with touch screen.
Mobile websites tend to be stripped down versions of a larger website, with only key content and minimal design features to ensure a faster download speed on mobile internet connections. A mobile website can also be made to link phone numbers on pages as a kind of speed dial by simply clicking the link to call the number.
An app is a piece of software that is downloaded and installed on a mobile device and does not work within an internet browser. Although apps can read web content, apps tend to be built to function without an internet connection and are specific to a particular system, for example you get iPhone apps, Android apps and Blackberry apps.
Whether an App or Mobile website is best depends solely on the needs of your mobile content. Apps tend to be better for gaming, heavy processing or mobile specific functions such as GPS, although GPS functionality can also be achieved with a mobile website.
Mobile websites are better for displaying simple content and pieces of information. Mobile websites can also be compatible across a wide range of mobile devices. Content can be shared easily on social networks by their address in the same way as a normal website. Content on a mobile website is also instantly available, whereas an app has to be downloaded and installed, which may just prevent that impulse buy a consumer may make on an ecommerce mobile website.
In conclusion both apps and mobile websites have their good and bad points. If you are considering whether your business should have either an app or a mobile website it is important to step back and think about what you wish for consumers to be able to do on their mobile devices. When you know this and know the main differences separating apps and mobile websites, you can decide which method(s) be the right solution for your consumers and organisations needs.
This article was written by Alex Blue
I have been working as a developer for UC4 since 2011. My job is to build websites that can evolve with your business. I am also responsible for making websites work well on mobile devices, ensuring your customers always have the best possible user experience.