87% of people worldwide already have mobile phones. 46% of U.S. adults have smartphones and sales are up 63% from 2010. More and more people are using Mobile phones to access social networking and websites (mobile web surfing is estimated to overtake desktop browsing by 2015). Not to mention the numbers are way higher when you look only at a strictly younger demographic (18-34). With sales from mobile shopping increasing exponentially each year it is crazy that 79% of large online retailers still don’t have a mobile version of their site! As a business owner you would be, to put it mildly, behind the times if you didn’t bring your company to cell phone users. But there are native apps, mobile versions, Android, Blackberry, iPhones… where do you start?
If you are planning to establish a mobile presence for your business or organization one of the first considerations is whether you want to create a mobile application for users to download (app) or a mobile website, or perhaps both. Mobile websites and apps can look very similar at first-glance. Determining which is most suited to your needs will depend upon a number of factors, including target audiences, available budget, intended purpose and required features. Both apps and mobile websites are accessed on handheld devices such as smartphones (e.g. iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and tablets.
A mobile website is similar to any website except it has been designed for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface. Apps are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device, rather than being opened with a browser. Users visit device-specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, or Android Market (now Google Play) in order to find and download apps (sometimes at a cost). Generally speaking, a mobile website should be considered your first step in developing a mobile web presence, whereas an app is useful for developing an application for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a web browser. There are a lot of benefits to having a mobile version of your website that apps can’t provide: mobile websites are instantly available, to users via a browser across a range of devices. Apps on the other hand require the user to first download and install the app from an app marketplace before the content or application can be viewed – a significant barrier between initial engagement and action/conversion. Mobile websites can be updated instantly, are found and shared more easily (by publishers and between users), can’t be deleted (the avg. lifespan of an app is thirty days), are cheaper and faster to develop, etc… So when should you build an app?
Despite the many inherent benefits of the mobile web, apps are still very popular. Generally, if you need one of the following, an app makes sense:
- Regular Usage/Personalization – If your target users are going to be using your app in a personalized fashion on a regular basis (e.g. EverNote)
- Complex Calculations or Reporting – Take data and manipulate it with complex calculations, charts or reports (e.g. banking or investment)
- Native Functionality or Processing Required – mobile web browsers are getting increasingly good at accessing certain mobile-specific functions such as click-to-call, SMS and GPS. However, if you need to access a user’s camera or processing power an app will still do that much more effectively.
- No connection Required – If there’s a need to provide offline access to content or perform functions without a network/wireless connection.
WbC Web Design has created mobile versions of websites for many clients. Whether from the outset or converting an existing site into a handheld-friendly version let WbC help you grab hold of the fastest growing market share. Contact us for a free consultation today wbcwebdesign.com 514-909-8773