When it comes to the decision on whether to go with a mobile application or a mobile website, there can often be a little confusion on what some of the differences are between the two. For business owners that are looking for the best way to connect with and reach their customers, knowing the difference can be especially important. 

There can be a crossover between mobile websites and mobile applications. While you most likely use both every day, understanding the ins and outs can help you make an informed decision on what might work best for you and your business – especially when you are looking to offer your customers a great mobile experience.

Below we dig further into the differences between mobile applications and mobile websites.

Mobile App vs. Mobile Website: What’s the Difference?

The most obvious difference we can point out is how each option is accessed. A mobile website is accessed by users on the Internet. Whereas a mobile application is accessed by users who have gone and downloaded the application onto their phone.

How a mobile app and mobile website are accessed tie into other important factors like how they can be shared to your customers, how your customers can connect with your business, and when they can connect. Custom mobile application development company can help you to develop custom mobile app for your unique business needs.

For mobile websites, a user will need to be connected to the Internet to access your website. They will not need to download anything, and they will usually be able to access the website both on their mobile devices and their computers.

A mobile application will need to be downloaded from an online location like the iOS App Store or Google Play. In many cases, a mobile app will not require an internet connection to operate.

Both mobile applications and mobile websites come with different advantages with some overlap. Let’s take a look at some of the key advantages for both.

Advantages of a Mobile App

Mobile applications have several advantages that can make them beneficial to have for any business. These advantages include: 

  1. Offline – Mobile apps function offline. Without needing to be connected to the Internet at all times, this means that your users and potential customers will have easy access to all of the different information available in your app. 

This can include product and service information, communications between your business and the customer, and useful content that is meant to answer their questions.

  1. Customization–Mobile applications offer users the ability to customize their experience once the app is downloaded. But they also offer you, the business owner, the ability to see unique insights like user engagement. Customization within mobile apps also means that your application can send each user completely custom updates, further tailoring the app experience.
  2. Interactivity – Mobile apps allow business owners to easily provide their current and future users with interactive components. This can range from a chat option to directly connecting with your team to store important documents. 

A great example of an interactive component in a mobile application can be seen on Pinterest. Pinterest allows users to post and share unique content, but they must be members to do so.

Advantages of a Mobile Website

A mobile website that has a responsive design brings its own advantages to the table. Other advantages that you can expect from a mobile website include:

  1. Searchability – Mobile websites are typically going to be much easier to search for if you are looking to reach new customers. Applications are a great option to offer to exist customers, but they tend to be restricted and only searchable in app stores. Websites will appear in search results on web browsers and can be listed in directories that are specific to your industry.

And with good use of search engine optimization, a website can pull in new potential customers in a number of ways.

  1. Cost Effective –For businesses that are looking to reach customers in a cost-effective manner first, a mobile website can be the way to go. Websites typically cost less to maintain and develop when compared to mobile application. Maintenance of a website will continue through the development phase and well after it has been launched.
  2. Compatibility – Mobile websites that are created by a responsive web design company will be completely compatible across different devices. This means that a single website will be able to reach users across all of the devices that have access to web browsers and will be able to adjust their look and feel to each device. 

To create either a mobile application or a mobile website, you can often outsource the work to an experienced custom mobile application development company who may also be able to provide guidance on which option is right for you.

Which One Should You Use?

There is no strict answer on which option is better. And while mobile application spending did hit a worldwide total of $50.1 billion in the first half of 2020 while mobile website visits on a global scale sat at 68.1% in 2020, both options may work better for your business depending on your needs.

A mobile website or mobile application can ultimately benefit your business’ online presence and accessibility in both different and similar ways. Both allow you to share both through social media, provide eCommerce options, and the ability to connect directly with your customers.

You can take stock of what it is you want to offer your customers and determine which option will work better.

About The Author

Split Reef is a custom mobile application development company that is based out of Columbus, Ohio and Jacksonville, Florida. Offering a range of mobile application development services, Split Reef works with clients to develop iOS and Android applications, provide website development and management, and digital marketing. With an experienced team working behind the scenes, Split Reef is a results driven responsive web design company that keeps up-to-date with industry advancements.

Posted by Elaine Bennett

Elaine Bennett is an Australian-based digital marketing specialist focused on helping startups and small businesses grow. She writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more people and help them on their business journey.