We cannot emphasize it enough: the mobile screen is the screen with which we interact most on a daily basis, both personally and professionally: when traveling, in the office, at home or on the go. Having mobile-friendly content is therefore essential. There are two major options for this. Either the development of a downloadable mobile application on Google and Apple marketplaces or the development of a mobile site also called a “web app”. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, depending on your needs. Let’s explore the subject together.
A mobile application
Advantages of a mobile application
Available on the App Store or Google Play, a mobile application is an integral part of a phone or tablet’s digital ecosystem. It’s usually optimized to make the best use of the available screen space. It’s a way to offer the highest level of quality and interactivity for its users. Each application can also interconnect with every other application already present on the device, such as Facebook, PayPal, and Twitter. When it comes to payment, authentication, and sharing, it’s fluid and easy to use, creating a good user experience which is fully integrated.
Mobile application notifications are an important tool to drive action and to share information. Indeed, they’re such a valuable tool that some companies, such as the NY Times have created specific and dedicated notification departments. Notifications can create a strong connection with the user, be used as a marketing tool or provide advanced services, especially when they are combined with geolocation as part of a “drive to store” approach.
Applications are always present on mobile screens and have quickly become an essential tool, given that 90% of time spent on smartphones is spent on mobile applications.
Disadvantages of a mobile app
A mobile application often requires an investment in terms of time and money which can be significant for big brands, particularly when it comes to advanced functionalities which require a multidisciplinary team of experts. An application requires the development of different versions depending on the OS (iOS vs Android) and for different sized devices too. Given the small size of the iPhone SE and the large size of the iPad Pro, an application is never really universal. This means that each update requires long and painstaking compatibility tests on all media and devices.
A mobile site
Advantages of a mobile site
Accessible via the internet browser of a device, a mobile website is compatible with any type of device; regardless of its screen size, power or internal features. This universality makes maintenance easier when it comes to fixing a bug, updating content, creating or deleting pages. What’s more, each correction or update is carried out in real time, the lag time between the two versions is reduced to the strict minimum.
Creating a mobile site isn’t more expensive or complex than a traditional website. Because it’s easier to manage, it’s easier to absorb the costs of a mobile site and to monetize it. For example, the British government made the decision to abandon all applications for mobile sites which are easier to maintain.
Disadvantages of a mobile site
A mobile site requires a browser and therefore an internet connection to work. It’s impossible to view it locally, just as it’s very difficult to integrate with the native functionalities of a device, such as Apple Pay, 3D touch, the camera or GPS.
Although the content is adapted to the size of a screen, it doesn’t necessarily adapt to your particular screen. The fold can cut off text or images and, be depending on how you hold the device, negatively affect the user experience.
Choosing a native mobile application and a web application depends on the needs and the ultimate aim of its intended use. If there are more technical or complex needs or if advanced or interactive multimedia content is required, an application is an appropriate choice. Conversely, if your priorities including keeping costs down, providing regular content updates and ensuring ongoing and flexible maintenance, a mobile site is a right solution.
In any case, mobile is a safe bet for brands which need to develop online!
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