By Luke Pickering
With 63% of Google searches now coming from a mobile device, and Google opting for mobile-first indexing, what platform is going to be more beneficial for your business? Do you choose a highly responsive website or do you instead go for a mobile app? A lot of it can come down to the cost, required features and the audience you’re trying to target, but mainly it’s what is going to best suit your business. While a bigger company such as Asos can afford to run both very well it’s important that SME’s make the correct choice.
If your target users are going to be frequently returning (Facebook, Twitter, Online banking) then an app is going to be a great way for your users to constantly have access to your business and its operations. Also if your business offers a personalised experience, an app is great that it allows you to stay logged in and makes it easily accessible. Furthermore, a recent study by Flurry reported that users spend 86% of their mobile activity time on apps.
In order to send exclusive content and updates to their customers, businesses previously relied heavily on email marketing. However, over recent years, emails have become somewhat stale – opening rates and click rates have decreased massively. This is where mobile app notifications shine! You’re able to send instant, non-intrusive notifications to the user to help nudge them to your application. It can help you to advertise a sale or promote a new feature and is generally an all-round fantastic way of driving traffic to your app.
One of the biggest stand out differences between a website and an application is the ability to take an application offline. While some apps may require internet access to access all features, it does allow the opportunity for many to provide information and functioning offline. It may be unreasonable for things such as a store but it is much more suitable for things such as a tax calculator.
With apps usually storing their data locally on the device itself it means that they can complete requests faster than a mobile website, which has to pull the information from a web server. This speed will help to provide the user with a great experience, as well as using less mobile data whilst running the app, which is going to help the reputation of your business.
Using an app allows you to make use of other features that are available on the mobile device, for example, it means you can make use of the camera, contact list and photo library. This opens up your app to be fun and interactive. It can also allow a user to complete certain tasks much quicker and easier than if they had to do it on a website.
When developing your website, it’s important that you make sure it is compatible across an array of different screen sizes and browsers. However, this is most likely not going to cause you too many issues – but, for an app, you are going to have to separately develop it for each platform and each software version. So not only is it more hassle but it’s going to cost you more money.
When it comes to updating your website or app you have more flexibility to update it if you’re using a website. Whether it’s the design or the content on a website it will be done instantly and will become immediately visible. However, updating an app requires the update to be pushed to users, which the user must then download.
If you already have a website, making sure it is optimized on mobile is so important for user experience and visibility. With Google now using mobile responsiveness as a ranking factor, it’s never been more valuable to have your website as functional and up-to-date as possible.
As mobile search continues to grow there will always be a question of “Website vs App” and it’s one that can only be answered on an individual and personal basis – an app may be more suited to some businesses than others. Also, keep in mind that they aren’t mutually exclusive, just because you have a website doesn’t mean you can’t have an app.