Mobile Application and Mobile Website – How are they Different?

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The introduction of smartphones has changed the lifestyle of people. Today, we spend more time with the phone and tablets as compared to what we did about a decade ago. Businesses have remodeled the way they function to suit the lifestyle of consumers and today we have many products and services offered at our doorstep through few simple clicks on the smartphone. As the consumer landscape in digital platform is changing drastically, start-ups, who have been aggressive in digital marketing, normally face a situation where they have to decide whether they should concentrate on developing a mobile friendly website or should they go for an application that can be downloaded by potential clients or do they need both. It is interesting to see how the two – mobile application and mobile website – though perform similar functions, are different from one another.

What is a Mobile Application?

Mobile application is created through a set of programs with an intention to perform certain functions on the mobile or tablet using the internet. Some applications can perform few operations even without the internet. Unlike a mobile website, the user downloads the app onto his/her smartphone and uses it whenever necessary.

What is a Mobile Website?

A mobile website is a site (just like the desktop website) which is created specifically for the small screen (mobile and tablet) platform. The content is optimally phrased for the small screen or the website is designed in such a way that the content can adapt to the any screen size (responsive website design). The mobile website can be accessed through any browser in the smartphone or tablet.

Differences in Purpose and Functions

A website can be created to act as the face of a company online, to deliver certain products/services or simply to share content. Where it is a face of the company it can be designed to have vital information about the business which is put together in a manner that is suitable for the small screen.

On the other hand, a mobile app is mostly designed to serve a particular purpose, such as ordering products online, money transaction, booking reservations, sharing visual or audio or written content, getting real-time updates on weather stock market etc. An app is designed to perform a limited set of functions which makes it more user-friendly.

Mobile App and Mobile Web – How do Businesses see the Difference?

For businesses, when it comes to digital marketing, many factors related to mobile app and mobile web come to picture when planning a strategy. The marketing team may jot down the needs and purpose of the business and conduct a study on investment cost and ROI. A recent study about how mobile app and mobile web are different in terms of traffic and usage patterns came up with the following results.

  • People spend more time on mobile apps than mobile websites.
  • The traffic generated (number of unique visits to a website) was high for mobile web as compared to mobile app.
  • The user base for mobile web was more diverse.
  • Every mobile user may have a list of 25-50 apps which he/she commonly uses. The top 100 apps in the world most probably make it to the list of top 25-50 apps used by individuals (example: Facebook, Twitter etc.)

Google estimates that smartphone users spend about 30 hours in a month on mobile apps. About 85-90% of this time goes towards popular apps (apps which a user frequently uses). Mobile apps have few functional advantages over mobile websites. The problem of typing the search term or URL of the website in the small screen or even to use a bookmark makes mobile web less user-friendly while mobile apps can be accessed through the click of a button. Mobile application helps greatly in improving brand perception, building customer loyalty and keeping in touch with the customers.

Yet SEO experts suggest that apps can be considered only when businesses are confident that it can do things that are not possible through mobile website. The digital marketing strategies for mobile app are different as compared to websites. Mobile websites are optimized differently on Search Engine. More time and effort may be required to increase the reach of mobile app. Another drawback of mobile app is that it can crash or not work properly depending on the device onto which it is downloaded and used. Creating an app which works well on most of the mobile devices is a challenge.

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