Mobile devices are quickly gaining in popularity and becoming one of the top platforms for viewing and interacting with websites. They are no doubt a huge consideration to website owners and businesses developing an online web strategy. Questions we often hear from clients are “Do I need a different version of my website for mobile viewing?” and “Do I need to consider building a mobile app?”
As a general rule, we believe businesses that are deploying a content-based marketing strategy should focus on their website and, if necessary, slightly adapt their existing website design for mobile usage. Standards-based websites designed with a mobile audience in mind will display and work successfully on most mobile devices with the latest browsers. More often than not, businesses who want to market their products and services online will choose to maintain one website for both mobile and desktop usage. In some cases, we consider delivering a slightly modified website layout using CSS or we develop a scaled down mobile version of a website that has been edited exclusively for the mobile user.
Mobile apps, on the other hand, are platform specific – meaning they are built and designed to run on one device and one device only. Apps are typically used if you want to literally “deliver” a product or service via the internet. In the app marketplace, consumers purchase and pay for apps that will perform specific tasks. Generally, apps are not designed simply for marketing. They are designed for delivery and are required if your program requires the use of device-specific hardware such as the camera or microphone.
A well-made app can provide a superior mobile user experience but they are very expensive to develop and maintain. And, they are platform-specific. For example, if want your app to run on the iPhone, Blackberry and Android, you will need to develop 3 different programs. So unless you are ready to keep up with ever changing mobile environments and their supporting development languages, it is just simply easier to maintain your website and optimize it for a mobile experience.
If you are marketing your product or service and hoping to bring in prospective clients, you will not find them lurking in an app store. But you will find them online searching and interacting with websites and social media. Brand new clients who do not already know about you definitely use the web and websites to find services and products they need. So, if marketing or serving expertise-based content is your primary goal, websites are the way to go.