When it comes to establishing an online presence, businesses often have to choose between investing in building a mobile app or website. Both options have unique advantages and cater to diverse user preferences. This further amplifies the challenge of deciding which one to choose.
As per Statcounter, the market share of mobile apps has reached 57.78%, surpassing websites, which is 42.22%.
Such stats lead to widespread belief that in the coming years, mobile apps will dominate websites. Nonetheless, the relevance of the web is not likely to diminish. It may come as a surprise to know that approximately 5,76,000 sites launch per day, indicating the vast presence of websites.
Many businesses prefer mobile app development only after their website has been launched. This can be due to various reasons like cost-effectiveness, shorter development time, broader accessibility, and so on. However, the choice of developing an app or a website should be based on the business’s specific needs, target audience, budget, deadlines, and so on.
Read on to explore the common factors that can help you decide whether to develop a website or mobile app for your business.
Mobile Apps vs. Websites: Key Considerations
The foremost thing to consider when choosing between a website or mobile app is to understand your business needs.
For businesses catering to on-the-go, location-dependent, or quick-access needs, such as food delivery services or ride-sharing platforms, a mobile app is often the preferred choice. This allows users to acquire the service conveniently from their smartphones, where they may need it most.
Businesses that aim to provide information, services, or products to a broader audience, regardless of the device they use, often lean toward a website. This offers versatility and accessibility across various platforms and devices, enhancing the customer reach of the business.
Budget is another major factor for businesses to choose between apps or websites. Upon consulting an expert, in most cases, you will be advised to develop a website first and a mobile app later. This is often because website development is typically more budget-friendly than creating a mobile app, making it a practical starting point for many businesses. However, the decision should be based on your business goals, target audience, and unique project requirements to ensure it aligns with your overall strategy.
Unlike an app, a website displays the content on a single interface for all OSs and devices, securing costs by eliminating the need for creating several versions. Whereas, the UI of an app will need to be adjusted for different platforms like iOS and Android. Separate apps would need to be developed to ensure compatibility with different operating systems, leading to higher costs per OS. In other words, you will have to hire mobile app developers to create native apps or cross-platform mobile applications, which is likely to cost more than hiring web developers.
The following aspects will help you decide which one is more budget-friendly: mobile apps or websites.
|Development cost||Require platform-specific development; thus, more expensive.||Website development is usually budget-friendly.|
|Ongoing maintenance cost||For regular maintenance and updates, mobile apps require additional time and expenses.||Conversely, maintenance and updates with a website are less expensive and easier.|
|Marketing cost||Acquiring users and promoting apps can be more challenging and expensive as you may need to invest in paid advertising campaigns.||Websites require SEO and online marketing to attract organic traffic, which costs relatively less than mobile apps.|
|App store fees||App stores charge fees for listing and distributing apps||N/A|
In a majority of cases, website development incurs less cost than mobile app development. However, if you are a type of business whose target audience is primarily on mobile devices, developing apps will be beneficial despite the higher initial costs. So, ultimately, your decision should align with your project goals, target audience, and available budget.
Offline Access Considerations
The need for offline functionality plays a significant role in determining whether a mobile app or website would suit your business goals.
They offer a benefit in terms of offline accessibility, by storing data locally on mobile devices. This enables users to interact with the app and access certain features even when they are not connected to the internet. Below are some examples of the kind of mobile apps that work perfectly when offline:
- Dictionaries– Such kinds of apps often come with built-in offline databases that contain a vast amount of word definitions, synonyms, antonyms, etc. Users can search for words and access this data even when they are offline.
- Offline Games– Many mobile games, especially puzzles, are designed to be playable without an internet connection.
Accessing a site requires reliable internet connectivity. You can only view previously cached web pages with content, but there will be no interaction with elements when offline. They are most suitable for services and tasks that rely heavily on real-time data from the internet.
If the majority of your target audience prefers offline usage or your project’s core functionality is designed to be valuable in offline scenarios, a mobile app might be preferred. However, if your application relies heavily on real-time data and interactions that are only possible online, a website may be the more appropriate option.
Frequency of updates
The need for frequent updates can apply to both websites and apps, but the frequency and nature of updates can vary according to –
- The Type of Content Or Services you Offer- The nature of your content plays a crucial role, such as –
- A news website might need daily updates to publish new articles
- An eCommerce website could require frequent updates to add or remove products, adjust prices, or manage inventory
- An educational app might need periodic updates to introduce new lessons or features
- Platform-Specific Requirements- Unlike websites, apps may need to be updated to remain compatible with the latest OS versions on various devices. It requires more frequent updates compared to websites.
- User Expectations– These vary depending on the type of platform the user is using. For instance, a news website user expects to see fresh content daily, while a banking app user expects frequent updates for security and bug fixes.
Websites are often suitable for:
- Frequent content updates: If your content needs to be updated frequently (e.g., daily news articles), a website is typically the better choice. This allows for easy and immediate content updates without requiring user downloads and installations.
- Businesses with budget constraints: A website can be a cost-effective solution if you want to minimize ongoing maintenance expenses. Website maintenance usually costs less than updating apps.
Mobile apps are often suitable when:
- Your project involves delivering real-time information or sending notifications to users
- Your application has gamification features or interactive elements that require frequent updates like new levels and leaderboards
Making an informed decision when choosing between a mobile app and a website is essential as it fundamentally shapes how a business engages with its audience. Apart from the above-discussed factors, your business goals, purposes, niche, target customers, and various other aspects influence the decision to opt for an app or a website.
Furthermore, deciding between a website and an app does not conclude with making a choice. Transforming your decision into reality requires the expertise of skilled professionals. For this, it is always advisable to hire an app developer or a web developer who has the experience to bring your vision to life.