Which Suits Your Business Better
Now consumers are using mobile handsets to do everything and more than they can on a desktop internet, online businesses have a decision to make.
Will your business perform better online with an app, a website or both?
Search engines have steered firms to build websites consumers can use on mobile phones. Yet there are still a lot of mobile users that are having usability problems.
Slow loading sites, poor performance, poorly designed, intrusive display ads and impossible navigation all contribute to the frustrations of mobile internet users.
Then along came the app. And with a swagger. It boasts the ability to work offline, can be customised for personalised use and generally performs better than a website.
But are web apps or web mobiles better for your business?
Apps offer users and businesses a number of critical advantages; the performance is better on mobile devices and help brands improve personalised service and customer loyalty.
Apps certainly tick the right boxes in terms of usability, but only if they add value to the customers for the long-term. Statistics show that apps typically have a short life span.
If your mobile website is poorly designed, it can create all kinds of usability problems. However, these can be easily eradicated with a simple design that is clutter-free and easy to navigate.
Since the introduction of HTTP2, websites can load quicker on mobile phones, and if designed well, should improve the user-experience. But web designers still need to be savvy.
The more information web browsers have to communicate with servers, the longer it takes mobile pages to fully appear on the screen. And consumers do not have time to wait!
Therefore mobile websites should have a minimalist design that does not need a lot of data to be processed. If your website is too heavy, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will strip away design features and leave your website looking threadbare and unprofessional.
AMP is Google’s response to Facebook’s Instant Articles which gives users access to a wide range of content without having to leave the app. Essentially, AMP is designed for the purpose of reading content, and not interacting with the brand. App content has an advantage over webpages.
Whether you have a websites, an app, or both, you have to rely on search engines to throw it in search results. And there is a lot of competition for both website urls and apps.
Apps are available from app store such as Apple, Google Play and Microsoft Windows. They have also started appearing in organic search engine results. Sales are driven by word-of-mouth or immediate need for a specific feature.
Consumers cannot easily find apps without relevant keywords, user interaction and customer testimonies. Search engines in App Stores function in the same way as Google, Bing and Yahoo!
There is an argument that small businesses would benefit from an app over a website because there is less competition in app stores thus more chance of increased visibility. Furthermore, apps can be accessed and used offline.
However, because of the programming involved, they take longer to develop and are more expensive to adapt whenever new technologies and customer behaviour changes.
Websites on the other hand typically have an extended life cycle over apps. You can also improve visibility through paid advertising campaigns and social media platforms.
Websites also reach a wider audience and have more accessibility than apps. They can be accessed through a web browser on any device, whereas apps are device specific.
The advantage of a website is they are less expensive to build and easier to develop. You will also reach a wider audience. Users can also access website from anywhere with an internet connection.
In contrast, apps perform better on mobile phones and increase customer loyalty – providing they provide uses your customers want on a regular basis. They have clear advantages over websites but are more expensive to build.
If you have to choose between a mobile app and a responsive website, consider which platform offers users the most value on mobile phones and establish what your end goal is for your investment.