App or website – which is the best solution for your smartphone customers?

Businesses are constantly trying to adopt new technologies to improve their business processes and provide better services to their customers. With Smart phones becoming a necessity, many companies are now looking for effective ways through which they can engage their clients via their phones.
There are two major ways through which companies connect with their clients on their cell phone. One is through a Mobile Website while the other is through Mobile APP. Both app and mobile website are accessed on  handheld devices such as smartphones (e.g. iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and tablets. Before you can evaluate the benefits of a mobile website vs. an app it’s important to understand the key differences between the two.
Difference between Mobile App and Mobile Website:
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. Some advantages of the having a mobile website are;

  • Immediacy – Mobile Websites Are Instantly Available
  • Compatibility – Mobile Websites are Compatible Across Devices
  • Upgradability – Mobile Websites Can Be Updated Instantly
  • Find ability – Mobile Websites Can be Found Easily
  • Shareable – Mobile Websites Can be Shared Easily by Publishers, and Between Users
  • Reach – Mobile Websites Have Broader Reach
  • A Mobile Website Can be an App!
  • Time and Cost – Mobile Websites are Easier and Less Expensive
  • Support and Sustainability

Apps are actual applications 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. A mobile application is useful and most likely to be created for the following business models/process;

  • Interactivity/Gaming
  • Regular Usage/Personalization
  • Complex Calculations or Reporting
  • Native Functionality or Processing Required
  • No connection Required

As with any project, when developing an app you want to ensure that you’re getting an optimal return on your investment. 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.