In our current digital age, a marketing strategy is incomplete without a digital presence. No company can ignore the necessity of building a Web site. Many companies are now developing mobile apps as well.
One of the most important aspects of business involves taking your products and services to your customers, which means building an online presence. However, with so many different platforms available—especially with the growing popularity of smartphones—deciding where your business presence should be is an important decision.
The way in which consumers browse the Internet has changed considerably in recent years, with mobile devices now surpassing desktops for Internet usage. According to Statista, the average time Internet users spent online daily worldwide has decreased from 43 minutes on the desktop in 2011 to 32 minutes in 2021, with a steady reduction expected through 2022, and increased from 32 minutes on mobile in 2011 to 155 minutes in 2021.
Considering overall Internet usage, Web sites now account for less than half (45%) of all the time users spend online, with mobile apps accounting for the remaining 55%. An increase in the number of mobile devices now in use has led to greater demand for mobile apps.
Mobile apps have become an essential part of the business strategy of companies that want to engage with their customers online because they maintain a higher retention rate than Web sites. According to Google, the retention rate for mobile-app users is 50% higher than for those using a browser, and this number increases to 90% when considering only smartphone users.
Similarities Between Mobile Apps and Web Sites
The usefulness of mobile apps and Web sites is similar in many respects.
Both Provide Easy Access to Content
Mobile apps and Web sites offer easy consumption of content. Apps let users download information onto their device so they can access it at any time, wherever they are. Web sites also provide this convenience, but do not always offer the same level of integration that a user would expect from a well-designed mobile app. Apps don’t require users to access them through the Internet. Web sites are available on all devices.
Both Provide Push Notifications
Both mobile apps and Web sites use push notifications to help users stay up to date with what’s going on. They can appear on the device or in a browser so, no matter where users are, they can see the message.
Both Are Difficult to Design and Build
Many businesses underestimate the time, effort, and costs that go into developing a mobile app or Web site for their company. There are many things to consider, including the type of device, the coding language, what kind of functionality is necessary, and whether factors such as natural disasters and other circumstances that could potentially inhibit functionality might affect a site or app. Therefore, it’s important to carry out the appropriate research before deciding which way to go.
Both Enable Social Sharing and Provide Brand Exposure
Since mobile apps and Web sites provide content for consumption by users, they both have social-sharing features that can help expand your company’s reach and brand exposure even further. When users share your content, more people become aware of your business or product. Even if users don’t download your app or subscribe to your site right away, you still have a chance to earn their trust through social media.
Companies Can Monetize Both
You can monetize your mobile app or Web site in many different ways. Advertising, subscriptions, and in-app purchases are just some of the available options for businesses that want to incorporate them into their site or app. Depending on what kind of app you offer, you might be able to charge a fee for your services to generate additional revenue.
Both Work on All Available Devices
Although mobile apps and Web sites both work on every platform, the way they do this is very different. Web sites must be responsive as users change the size of their browser window, while an app automatically adjusts its user interface depending on the type of device on which it’s installed.
Differences Between Mobile Apps and Web Sites
Mobile apps and Web sites also differ in many ways.
Users Can Download and Install Apps, Unlike Web Sites
One of the biggest benefits of mobile apps is that users can download them from an online store, allowing user to install them on their device. This gives users access to your app whenever they’re on their phone rather than their having to open a browser and go to your site. Even though users can access Web sites through browsers that run on any platform, users must type in a Web address or access the site through a search engine.
The Development Costs for an App Are Greater Than for a Web Site
Apps are much more difficult to create than Web sites so can cost your business quite a bit of money. Web sites, on the other hand, are much easier to build, partly because of the widespread availability of tools that make it easy for even beginners to create a site.
Search-Engine Optimization Is Easier for Web Sites
Although traffic on both Web sites and apps can help your content to rank higher in search results, Web pages have the advantage of easier search-engine optimization (SEO). Since Web pages are written in HTML, they can include more keywords and descriptions that can help them stand out in search results.
Apps Are More Difficult for Users to Share
Because apps target a specific audience of existing users, it’s more difficult for users to share them with other people across platforms. Users may be able to share information through the app, but they have to send it across multiple, discrete platforms. Web sites are much easier to share because users can simply copy and paste a page’s Web address and send it through an email message or social-media site.
Structuring and Designing Web Sites Is Simpler
Mobile apps are usually designed within an existing framework or a user interface that already exists, but the design of Web sites has the advantage of being more flexible. Since Web design has fewer restrictions, designers can implement advanced features and effects that require more time and expertise to create. This enables them to create unique designs for their client’s sites.
The Pros of Mobile Apps over Web Sites for Businesses
Mobile apps offer some advantages to businesses over Web sites.
Interactive User Engagement
Mobile apps provide a more interactive experience than Web sites, which users must access via a mobile Web browser. This lets brands create content that they cannot make available on their Web site. Plus, they can include games or contests that let users win prizes.
Offline Use Across Multiple Devices
Mobile apps can function offline and be used on different types of mobile devices, while Web sites require an Internet connection to function. This makes apps much more versatile than Web sites, allowing them to reach a wider audience and increasing potential sales. Web sites do not function properly if they encounter problems with the user’s Internet connection while the user is on the site. Mobile apps usually have the advantage when it comes to reliability because most apps can run offline.
A Pre-existing User Base
Many people have a smartphone, so mobile apps offer brands the opportunity to reach out to a much larger audience than Web sites alone do. Most apps are free to download, so anyone can use them, regardless of their financial status.
The Monetization of Apps
Mobile apps are usually more profitable for brands than Web sites are because users can purchase items or pay monthly fees to access certain features or content. Apps often have recurring revenue sources that come from subscriptions, while sales on Web sites are usually limited to one-time purchases.
Customized Push Notifications
Users can customize their mobile apps by configuring push notifications, allowing businesses to remind their users about any product or service updates. Such notifications appear on the user’s device as soon as the device receives them, so brands don’t have to worry about sending out email or text messages to disseminate new information quickly and efficiently.
A Unique, Personalized User Experience
Mobile apps often let users navigate through the entire app in a way that feels intuitive to them. Your team can design a mobile app to fit perfectly on a small screen, providing an optimal viewing experience for users on their mobile device. Web sites must usually adapt to all screen resolutions and sizes, which means brands might need to sacrifice some image quality to ensure that users can access their Web site on a variety of devices.
The Pros of Web Sites over Mobile Apps for Businesses
Web sites also offer some unique advantages to businesses over mobile apps.
Ease of Access
The first and most important benefit of having a Web site instead of a mobile app is that anyone can access a Web site, regardless of their having access to mobile technology. Plus, Web sites don’t require users to download an app to use them, and they’re available on the Internet even when the user’s cellular service goes down.
Greater Control and Customization
It’s easy to make Web sites fit your branding. Web sites are also easier to update, so you won’t have to pay a developer every time you want to make changes, which can be costly.
Higher Click-through Rates
People are able to find your business faster when it’s on the Web, so you’ll have more chances of converting visitors into customers in comparison to an app that users might not get around to downloading. Visitors are also more likely to click links on a Web site than in an app because most people don’t download apps unless they go looking specifically for them.
Compatibility with All Platforms
Users can access Web sites on all platforms and in all browsers, so they don’t have to worry about compatibility issues. Users must update their apps every time they update their device with a new version of its operating system or browser. This can be a costly, time-consuming process.
Accessibility to People with Disabilities
People who use screen readers or other assistive technologies don’t need a smartphone to access content on the Internet. Web sites are usually more compatible with these tools than apps are because most apps are incompatible with them.
One of the most significant benefits of a Web site is that you have to pay only for hosting. Hosting services are relatively inexpensive, so you won’t have to spend too much money on them—especially if your site isn’t getting a lot of traffic. In contrast, a mobile app can cost you both one-time fees and monthly subscription fees.
Better Search Engine Optimization
SEO is crucial to the success of your Web site because it helps you gain greater visibility and drives traffic to your site. You can optimize your Web site for search engines much more easily and quickly than you can a mobile app.
SEO services and tools aren’t necessary when you have a Web site because managing and updating your content is completely free. But there are subscription-based services that can do this for you. You must submit a mobile app to various app marketplaces for indexing, which can be more costly in the long run.
Mobile App Versus Web Site: Some Factors to Consider
Determining whether your company should build a mobile app or a Web site depends on a number of different factors.
What Are Your Goals for Your Product or Service?
The main reason businesses create mobile apps is to increase their sales. But there’s no guarantee that your app will be able to achieve this. Before coming up with a mobile-app strategy, you must define your product goals so you know exactly what the purpose of your app should be. You should also assess whether having a Web site would be more suitable for your particular type of business.
Does Your Product Require Real-Time User Interactions?
Mobile apps are best for businesses that provide real-time customer interactions. For example, apps are beneficial for brands that have live-chat features or require customers to create accounts so they can view their purchase history. If your product doesn’t require such interactions, a Web site might suffice, and it would save your business the cost of maintaining an app.
How Frequently Would People Use Your Product?
The popularity of your product could determine the appropriate platform on which to offer it. For example, businesses that sell products with long purchase cycles would benefit more from having a Web site, because users would be less likely to visit their site on a daily basis. Mobile apps are better for services that users access frequently or products that users must consume right away or within a specific time frame—such as transportation apps, dating apps, and news apps.
Does Your Product Idea Require the Native Capabilities of a Mobile OS?
If your mobile app requires the native capabilities of a mobile operating system (OS), you’ll need to build an app to take advantage of them. People are also more likely to download an app if it offers features that aren’t available on the Web.
Does Your Product Require a Long-Term Commitment?
Users are more likely to abandon mobile apps if they don’t immediately see their value. That’s why it’s important that your app offer features users can’t get on other services such as Web sites. With Web sites, you have less control over how often or how many times users access your site.
What’s Your Product-Development Budget?
The cost of creating an app is much higher than the cost of building a Web site, so if you don’t have time or money to spare, you should probably stick with a Web site.
Do Your Product’s Requirements Dictate Developing a Web Site or App
If your Web site’s information is too complex to display well on a mobile app’s small screen, you would be better off having a mobile-friendly Web site instead. However, apps are more convenient for brands that require frequent updates. The process of updating the content on an app is faster than publishing content on a Web site. However, an increasing number of Web sites are allowing customers to write blog posts themselves.
Do Your Key Competitors Provide a Mobile App?
If your competitors have created mobile apps, you’ll probably need to have one, too, to ensure that your customers can find you. A Web site is more suitable for businesses that are looking to attract new customers. Plus, it has the advantage of being accessible on all devices, which is important for businesses that want to reach as many consumers as possible.
Would Building an App Rather Than a Web Site Make More Sense?
When would it be best to build a mobile app rather than a Web site? You should consider building an app if
your product requires real-time interactions with customers
your app can solve real problems for your customers—for example, by making it easier to purchase products or get customer support
you have money and time to spare
your app requires access to native mobile OS capabilities
users require a customized or personalized experience
Would a Responsive Web Site Be Preferable to a Mobile App?
Building a Web site is much less expensive than building a mobile app, which makes it more suitable for businesses that have limited resources. However, a responsive, mobile-friendly Web site can’t offer all the features that customers would get with an app. If you need to offer customers access to native functionalities, you should invest in developing an app instead. Responsive, mobile-friendly Web sites are better for businesses that don’t need real-time interactions with their customers or that require frequent updates.
Mobile apps offer several benefits over Web sites, including access to the user’s phone book and location services. However, their benefits might not justify your business investing in building an app. Generally, mobile apps are better for products that people use daily or on a regular basis. If you’re not sure whether your business falls in this category, conduct some market research to determine the right fit for your company.
Minu is a digital marketer who specializes in organic growth and content marketing. She also has a background in business management. Since she began working in this industry, she has helped small businesses improve their Web presence through the use of search-engine optimization (SEO), content strategy, and social-media strategy. Read More