After the initial question of “To mobile or not to mobile?”, the next question that comes to mind (if you’ve made the smart decision) is probably “Where should I start?” You could build a mobile app, a mobile website, or even both, but some hurdles may be standing in your way of going all out – budget and talent, just to name a few. So if you have to choose between a mobile app and mobile website, which one should you choose? There’s no clear-cut answer – it really depends.
You should choose a mobile website if:
Limited Budget - On most occasions, a mobile website is less expensive to make than a mobile app. So if you can’t afford a mobile app, start off with a mobile site. With over half of U.S. adults using their phones to access the Internet, it’s important that your website translates well to the small screens of mobile devices; focus on making your mobile website easy to navigate, easily accessible, and fluff-free.
General Audience – If your business or brand caters to a transient audience, then a mobile website may be more effective than a mobile app. What we mean by “transient” is an audience who isn’t particularly attached to the business or brand. For example, a transient customer could be someone who stumbles across a restaurant a couple times a year due to convenience or affordability, but isn’t attached to that restaurant. Another example would be a customer who visits a hardware store to purchase an item, but has no need to visit the store again.
General Information – A mobile website is very effective at relaying important, yet general information about your business or brand to your visitors quickly and easily – all it takes is a simple Internet search for your site. If you’re a restaurant, you can easily display important information like hours and menu information on your mobile website.
You should choose a mobile app if:
Loyal Audience – Loyal customers/fans are much more likely to download your app, creating a home for it on their mobile devices, compared to non-loyal or transient customers. They’re attached to the brand or business, and welcome updates that they receive via push notifications (a native app functionality) or that they find while browsing the app.
High Volume of Content – You can put a lot of content inside your mobile app. From your Twitter Feed to Photo Albums, to your Video Library to Events and so much more, users can access a wealth of information about your brand or business in one place. With a mobile app, your loyal users don’t have to visit multiple sources to stay up-to-date.
Social Features – A mobile app can be a engaging, social experience for your most loyal users. App users can join in conversation on the Fan Wall, share app content with their social networks, and promote your brand to their friends. An app isn’t just a mobile tool for your brand or business, it’s also a reward for your users.
You should choose both – a mobile app and mobile site – if:
You can afford it; Your audience is mobile-friendly; you have the talent to manage both; and if you have both non-loyal and loyal users. With both, you’ll be able to reach more people and address all their mobile needs.