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Mobile apps vs mobile sites

mobile app vs mobile site

Mobile apps

Mobile apps are software programs that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser.

Users visit device-specific portals such as  Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World in order to find and download apps for a given operating system. The app may pull content and data from the Internet, in similar fashion to a website, or it may download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.

An app is useful for developing a solution for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a Web browser.

Despite the many inherent benefits of the mobile Web, apps are still very popular, and there are a number of specific use scenarios where an app will be your best choice, such as for interactivity and gaming, complex calculations or reporting, accessing a user’s camera or processor, or functioning without a network / wireless connection.

What you want to avoid at all costs is the needless and expensive exercise of building an app to do something basic that can be achieved with a mobile website.

Understanding the benefits and shortfalls of each solution, combined with having a rock-solid purpose for your app and focus on the end-user’s experience and expectations, will help ensure your success regardless of the route you choose.

Mobile sites

A mobile website is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together and accessed over the Internet (for mobile typically WiFi or 3G or 4G networks). The obvious characteristic that distinguishes a mobile website from a standard website is the fact that it is designed for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface.

Like any website, mobile websites can display text content, data, images and video. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.

Generally speaking, a mobile website should be considered your first step in developing a mobile Web presence. This is because a mobile website has a number of inherent advantages over apps, including broader accessibility, compatibility and cost-effectiveness, to name only a few.

If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and found on search engines, then the a mobile website is the logical choice.

Contact us for additional information or to discuss whether an app or a mobile website might be the right fit for your organization’s needs.

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