With significant media coverage provided to Apps, many businesses have been quick to jump on the bandwagon to create Apps for their services. However, developing an App can often be difficult given device updates and the range of operating systems. As such, some businesses have done away with Apps and gone towards developing websites that work specifically for mobile devices. So given the option - which one's better: native Apps or mobile websites?
Well, in short, there is no right and wrong ... (there's often never a Yes/No response in IT) ... but rather both serve a purpose and can be better suited to different applications. So let's begin with what they are.
An App is an application that has been developed to run natively in the operating system of a mobile device. It can be downloaded and run directly from the phone and often can integrate more seamlessly with function of the phone, such as call, camera, etc. Benefits of an App can be that it can operate in the background and can be more responsive than a simple website. It can also be finely tuned into the UI (User-Interface) of the mobile device. Also, many Apps can store data locally, enabling access even when the phone is not connected to the Internet.
HTML5 Mobile Websites
On the other hand, websites can be adapted to be used on mobile devices - responsive/adaptive web design techniques can be used to provide a greater level of usability to mobile users as the layout is enhanced to perform better on smaller and touch screens. With the advancements in HTML and client-side scripting, as well as mobile browser's ability to run client-side scripts, more functionality can be made to work in mobile websites. This approach also allows you to use the same code-base to run on multiple devices - it doesn't require separate instances for different Operating Systems (ensuring that you can deploy to a larger variety of devices with minimal effort).
While I have endeavoured to provide a brief overview of the differences between native Apps and Mobile Websites, the cases for and against are far from simple. Online forums are filled with debate about which one is the better solution; however often the debate is weighted in favour of the experience of the developer. Those who develop Apps often prefer these; and vice versa.
As a business, it is important that you take the time to consider what you are trying to achieve with your mobile strategy. Then look to the solution that will best help you achieve this desired outcome - be it either a native APP or a mobile website. Remember, technology can provide the tools, but it is the application of the right tools for the job that determines the success of your project.
Given more than half of all traffic on the web comes from mobile, have you thought about what will work best for you
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