A mobile website is a website intended to be viewed using a mobile device and is rendered by a browser. Similar to a standard website, mobile websites can display text, data, images and videos. The main difference between a standard website and a mobile website is that the mobile website is developed for smaller hand-held displays and touch-screen interfaces.
A mobile application is a software application that is downloaded and installed on a mobile device as opposed to being rendered by a browser. They are designed for a specific mobile devices operating system and can pull content from the Internet and/or download the content so it can be accessed without an Internet connection.
How to determine which to use – a Mobile Website or a Mobile App?
The first step to determining whether to use a Mobile Website or a Mobile App is to define the purpose of the application and the audience you want to reach. You will need to first prioritize your business and marketing plans then determine which solution to employ.
- Determine the purpose of the application and the goals you wish to obtain with the application.
- Determine the audience you are creating the application for.
- Determine how your audience will interact with your application. Are you trying to deliver a highly graphical and robust experience or is the application mainly for delivering server-based information?
- Determine the budget. An individual mobile application can be expensive and resource intensive as opposed to a mobile website.
Advantages of a Mobile Website
- Compatibility across different types of devices
- Immediately available after publication of the website
- No distribution and installation required
- Viewable by anyone with a mobile browser
- Developed using standard web development tools
- Updating the website does not require the user to download new updates
- Visibility on the web makes it easier to find a mobile website
- Typically mobile websites are considered more time and cost effective
Advantages of a Mobile Application
- Usually a higher performance utilizing the hardware, operating system and user friendly interface of the device
- Superior graphics and animations – limited only by the mobile device’s CPU and memory
- Can be used without an Internet connection
- Only connects to the Internet for retrieving data from a database system
It is best to determine the purpose and audience you are trying to reach before deciding whether to create a Mobile Website or a Mobile Application. There are advantages and disadvantages to both choices so it is best to do some research on what you are trying to accomplish before deciding which way to go.