If you are thinking about delivering a service or content to your users on their mobile device (phone or tablet), you may be wondering what is a mobile app, what is a mobile website and what is the difference.
In this article, we provide an overview of mobile websites and mobile apps so you can understand the difference and begin to determine the one that is the best for your business.
A mobile website is simply a website that works well on a mobile device. Because it is a website, the user will be using a web browser to see the website. Two typical web browsers that you might be familiar with are Apple’s Safari browser found on iOS devices and Google Chrome’s browser that can be installed both on Apple and Android devices.
Although you can view all websites on a mobile device, the smaller screens of phones and tablets may create a challenge for using the website if it was not written for mobile devices.
The idea behind a mobile website is that you create your website in such a way that mobile device users can easily access and consume the content they need using their mobile device. This is often done using an approach known as Responsive Design. You can read more about What Is Responsive Design in this article.
A mobile app is not a website. It doesn’t display within a web browser. A mobile app is a separate application that you install, typically from the App Store or Google Play, and run on your mobile device. Some common mobile applications are Waze, Instagram, Facebook and Evernote.
It is understandable to be confused because some mobile apps also have the same functionality available on a mobile website. Amazon, Facebook and Evernote are all great examples of this.
As a user on a mobile device, you can choose to open up your Facebook app, or you can go to a web browser and type in facebook.com. Although the content and the functionality are almost identical, the experience is different. This is because there are differences in what you can build and how it looks in a mobile website vs. a mobile app. We will touch on the differences next.
Mobile Website vs. Mobile App
A mobile website for most situations can handle your business needs and more. But it does have some limitations compared to mobile apps.
First, a mobile website is limited to running in a browser and to the capabilities of modern web technologies. It is also limited to having an active internet connection. If you would like your app to run stand-alone, then you will need a mobile app.
A mobile website also doesn’t have access to the phone’s hardware. If you would like your application to use the phone’s GPS or camera, then you will need a mobile app.
Mobile apps also allow you to have better control of the user’s experience. If you would like to create a graphic-heavy or animation-heavy user experience, or use a lot of graphs and charts, you may want to consider a mobile app.
If you are still not sure which is better for you, a mobile website or mobile app, let us know. You can contact us with your idea and we can help advise you on which would make the most sense for you and your business.
The Checklist For Sharing Your Software Vision
Before you get started in developing your software app, your thoughts and ideas should be clarified and written down so they can be consistently and easily shared and understood. To help you get started on the right foot, we have created a checklist.