More than 5.16 billion unique people worldwide use the internet - close to 70% of the world’s total population. This number is overgrowing, too, with the latest data showing more than 300 million new users came online in the twelve months to April 2020, which is equivalent to an average increase of more than 800,000 new users each day. 

You must have read many articles around mobile apps vs. mobile websites, wondering what is going to suit my business. If so, this article will give you clarity. But before moving ahead, let’s take a look at the following impressive statistics:

  • According to Statista, “Around 4.57 active internet users as of July 2020, encompassing 59% of the global population.”
  • India, China, and the United States are ahead of all other countries when it comes to total internet users. 

It’s a pretty broad audience, isn’t it? 

Being a CEO or business owner, you certainly have thought about winning this audience. What mobile strategy can be helpful? What can be more useful to attract the audience - mobile apps and mobile websites? There’s no single answer. There are several factors that affect including your business plans, resources, and web properties. 

In this article, you will explore:

  • What is a Mobile App and Mobile Website?
  • What is the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website?
  • Should you go with a mobile app or a mobile website?
  • A Comparison: Mobile App vs. Mobile Website

What is a Mobile App and Mobile Website?

Mobile App

Mobile apps can be easily downloaded from play stores like Google Play Store, App Store, or other markets depending on the type of operating system. Pretty aware, right? You must have downloaded and installed several mobile applications daily. 

According to the Business of Apps, Sensor Tower predicts that we could see the app revenue come to $156 billion, for both Apple App Store and Google Play, based on a CAGR of 17%.

The number of mobile app downloads each year has been steadily increasing. There were 178 billion app downloads in the year of 2017. That figure is projected to grow to 258 billion in 2022 - a 45% increase over five years, according to Statista. 

In 2021, consumers are projected to download 196 billion mobile apps from the Google Play Store, according to Statista.

A few of the best cases to create a mobile app

A lot of examples of businesses that started as a simple website and switched into mobile a bit later: Dropbox, Google Doc, Airbnb, and The Guardian. This list goes on. 

The Goliaths like Ikea, Starbucks, L’Oreal, Airbnb, many more businesses started as a simple website and switched into a mobile app later. 

When it comes to particular business needs, what are the magical scenarios that set apart your business from rivals? 

For example, if you are planning to create an app with functionalities like Geo-location, scanners or cameras, and click-to-call, an application can do wonders than a mobile website. 

Numerous instances are there to choose for building an application:

  • Social networking app: If you plan to create a social networking app that requires access to various content like images, text, music, and keep all these essential elements functional and dynamic. 
  • Enterprise mobile app: If you require to build an app with features like great User Experience, cloud storage, real-time connectivity and analytics, smart and robust support, automation of processes, and event-driven approach. Then, it would be best if you chose to build an application. 
  • On-demand app solutions: Another time to choose an app is to build a platform like on-demand app solutions that require access to various types of content like booking modules, scheduling a delivery, in-app payments, real-time messaging and calls, and geo-location integration. 
  • Others: An app is also perfect for interactive games like Angry Birds, tools for daily usage like Evernote, and services that allow users to track real-time progress and send reminders.

Advantages of a mobile app

  • Convenience: Analysis shows that the apps are more popular than equivalent websites as they are more convenient. Mobile apps provide better user experiences, load content faster, and easier to use. Sharing updates, special features, and reminders within the app increase customer loyalty and retention. The design of mobile apps has different screen sizes more elegantly than websites. 
  • Personalization: Mobile apps are one of the great solutions for services that need regular use. An app allows users to create personal accounts, set preferences, and keep sensitive information at hand. From a business’s point of view, apps provide better support for targeting an audience and therefore building marketing campaigns for different groups of users. 
    The best thing about mobile apps is that it is entirely customizable, and users can make changes in the way they want while using an app. By enhancing overall user experience, it is advisable to enable options like setting preferences, saving useful information, and sharing media on social networks. 
  • Working offline & online: Another critical advantage is the opportunity to use them offline without any hassle. Without an internet connection, an app can keep providing access to content and features. It means that mobile apps can be used in places where there is no network connection. 

Disadvantages of a mobile app

  • Compatibility: A functional mobile app ensures proper functioning and should meet the requirements of the specific operating system. It means that every platform - iOS, Android, and Windows requires an individual app version. Cross-platform app frameworks don’t provide full support for each module and feature of each operating system. For instance, a cross-platform framework may not support 3D graphics that, in turn, lead to limitations in creating and displaying app designs. Thus, such restrictions have an impact on the stability of app features and may lead to sub-optimal functionality. 
  • Maintenance and Support: Whether it is a mobile app or mobile website, updates and bug fixes are required. When it comes to mobile apps, new updates must be downloaded and installed, which is an additional task for users. In mobile websites, updates are automatically implemented without any required actions from users. On the other hand, maintaining an app requires time and effort to get approval from the markets where the app is placed.

Mobile Website

A mobile website has been optimized for viewing on a mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet. Mobile websites are different from regular sites. Websites that offer better user experience to smartphone owners that leads to longer engagement times and greater customer satisfaction. A mobile website provides vital information that users on the go might need. It includes clear navigation and text can be read comfortably. 

Apart from mobile, there is another concept of optimizing websites for smaller screens: sites with responsive design.

A responsive website consists of HTML pages linked together, which are viewed in browsers. Unlike regular sites, the particular type is geared to displaying correctly on all sizes of screens. It works well not only with mobile-friendly websites and desktop versions of them, but also properly scales down for tablets with touchscreen interfaces.

That’s too narrow a definition of a responsive website.

A responsive or mobile website works well for implementing outreach strategies and supporting marketing or PR campaigns. When it comes to compatibility, accessibility, and maintenance, a mobile website is necessary to boost and support your mobile marketing campaign. 

To assess the benefits of a mobile website or mobile app vs. website, let’s touch upon the advantages and disadvantages of a mobile website.

Advantages of a mobile website

  • Broader reach: A mobile website has an extensive reach due to multi-device support features. Due to this, it becomes easier to reach a broader audience than a mobile app can reach. When it comes to a potential audience, the mobile website surely wins over mobile apps. 
  • Compatibility: A website magnifies the user experience across different types of mobile devices. On the contrary, a mobile app needs to develop an individual version for each operating system and device type. Users with diverse devices may appreciate the benefits of compatibility that responsive websites provide. Apart from this, it also includes support like easy integration with other mobile features like QR codes and text messaging. On the other hand, mobile apps are built separately for multiple devices that affect the overall user experience.  
  • Maintenance & Support: A mobile website costs less to upgrade and maintain. The single version of the app is important to maintain. Mobile apps that require downloading every single update, while a mobile website/responsive website lets you change the content or design just by editing them once along with efficiency and flexibility. Once it is implemented, updates become active and visible immediately across all types of devices. 

Disadvantages of mobile website

  • Convenience: Unlike mobile apps, a responsive website or mobile website can’t use features that a smart device offers. The only disadvantage of mobile websites is that features like camera, GPS, calling, etc. may not work with most of the mobile websites that add to the inefficiency of inconvenience. 
  • Offline Access: Although you design a mobile website in the lightest and informative way possible, it still may work offline with only limited functionality using cached pages. Unlike a mobile app that runs locally, a mobile website needs a good internet connection to operate adequately. 
  • User Experience: Even if one giant website page fits within a small device, it will affect the UI of the website. On the flip side, mobile apps provide far better user experience by allowing personalization and interaction. 

Let’s look at the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website.

Mobile App vs. Mobile Website: What is the difference between an app and a website?

Since the arrival of the internet, the number of desktops and mobile users has grown at a faster pace. When we talk about the different ways of accessing the internet, there are mainly two: accessing through mobile apps and mobile websites. Check out a few important stats about mobile web vs mobile app

  • The trend has already started in the year 2017. The ComScore data shows that mobile apps were leading at 87% of mobile time, while web browsing only scored 13%.
  • The split between the usage of a mobile app and a mobile website is becoming more lopsided. In 2017, smartphone and tablet users spent 87% of their time in apps. It means that for every hour spent on the web, users spent nearly seven hours using mobile apps. 

Mobile App vs. Mobile Website: Usage

How do mobile users spend their time? eMarketer research says that the data showed that the average person spends 90% of their free time in apps vs. the mobile web and only 10% browsing the rest of the internet. Talking about the eCommerce space, this contrast is even more dazzling. It reflects that mobile app users spend an average of 201.8 minutes per month shopping, compared to 10.9 minutes per month for website users. 

Thus, in the upcoming years, the usage of websites will shrink further as more eCommerce businesses lean towards mobile apps to grab more customers.

Mobile App vs. Mobile Website: Retention Rate

No matter how good you see those app store downloads go, it’s suggested not to rush to celebrate right now. There is a meaningful metric you should be paying attention to determine the success of your application, and it’s called the mobile app retention rate.

A good retention rate is the percentage of users that remain active on your mobile app after a certain period. However, a sustained lack of activity is usually accepted as a sign that a user has lost interest in an app.

To acquire an excellent retention rate for your mobile app, make sure to take into account the following:

By increasing your app’s retention rate will lead to other big wins for your mobile app:

  • More meaningful engagement
  • Greater loyalty
  • Increased conversions

You can draw your hypotheses about this based on the retention rate alone. Nevertheless, it might be helpful to make use of tools like heat maps to spot problem areas in the mobile app. Once you know what’s going on, you can remove the friction from the user experience. To get started, we’ve comprised a few issues that can commonly be caused by low retention rates:

  • Challenging Onboarding: Onboarding is the first real experience apart from the app store description and screenshots users encounter. Imagine, a frustrating sign-in or on-boarding process could quickly turn off those who take that as a signal, the rest of the app will be challenging to use. For example, the OkCupid dating app has a great-looking and well-designed splash screen. It has a clear value proposition and an easy-to-find call-to-action. 
  • Slow navigation: The next thing that turns off the users abruptly is the slow navigation in the app. People do not like to wait even for a couple of seconds for things to happen. App with slow navigation takes minutes to show the desired content or has haphazard navigation irritating the visitors. 

To begin with, the navigation of a mobile app should be easy and ever-present. It’s not like a browser window where users can hit the “Back” button to get out of an unwanted page. On a mobile app, you need to provide a clear and intuitive exit strategy. Also, the navigation of an app should never take more than 2 or 3 steps to get the desired outcome. 

  • Overwhelming Navigation: A poorly constructed or non-visible navigation is one thing; however, lousy navigation gives too many options that can be just as problematic. While a mega menu like an eCommerce website surely makes sense, an oversized menu in mobile apps does not.  The best solution is to go with personalizing the mobile experience. This is something applied for every app, especially the apps that deliver global news - should allow for. It’s better to avoid an overwhelming amount of options, and personalization is undoubtedly a valuable solution.
  • Outdating or incomplete experience: Anything that makes a mobile app stop or slows down makes a wrong impression. This could be caused by many imperfections in the experience: 
  1. Slow loading pages
  2. Dated design choices
  3. Broken links or images
  4. Incomplete information
  5. Intrusive pop-ups

If you expect users to take some time to download the app and at least give your application a try, make sure it’s worthwhile. Furthermore, if you are planning to create a mobile app that is supposed to inform and compel users to engage, make sure it must be running in tip-top shape. All information, tabs, and page load must be available in a reasonable timeframe. 

Mobile App vs. Mobile Website: Comparing Conversions

You should have a good understanding of your ad campaign’s clicks and views, especially when running mobile or cross-device campaigns.  Last-click attribution is all about the “last click,” which is given credit for a sale or conversion. 

Here’s how it works: when a user comes to your mobile app or website and orders a product, a web analytics system will tell you where the customers came from since users usually switch between multiple devices, platforms, and websites before making a purchase. 

How do apps perform when it comes to comparing to other channels? According to Criteo’s research, mobile apps close the deal with consumers. People generally view 4.2x more products per session within apps, compared to mobile sites. Not only this, but apps also push more people down the purchase funnel, with 3x higher conversion rates than mobile websites and even 1.5 times more conversions per session than via desktop. 

Why do applications perform better than mobile sites? 

The shopping cart abandonment rates are much higher on mobile sites than desktop. It means driving the global abandonment rate up to 73.4%. On the contrary, purchasing a phone can be a painful experience. One of the reasons customers are annoyed and abandon their shopping carts is to fill out credentials during checkout.

Mobile App vs. Mobile Website: User Preferences

So, why do mobile users find their devices convenient? Consumers prefer apps over mobile sites because of user experience, speed, extra features, and special offers. It’s also not surprising that about 90% of all mobile users use apps, compared to only 10% who use mobile web browsing. 

The number of mobile app downloads was 178 billion in 2017. That number is projected to grow to 258 billion in 2022 - a 45% increase over five years, according to Statista. Moreover, a modern user runs whooping nine apps daily on average and spends 90% of their total mobile time on them. 

On the other hand, mobile websites might be effective tools for initial awareness and engagement, yet they fall short in later funnel stages, where apps prove their worth and spur better retention rates. 

Should you go with a mobile app or a mobile website?

When it comes to deciding whether to build a mobile app or mobile website, the right choice depends on your business objectives. If you aim to offer mobile-friendly content to a wide range of users, then a mobile website can do wonders for your business. However, if you want to engage, interact, and communicate with your customers to drive customer loyalty, then a mobile app is an excellent choice. 

In most cases, you may decide you need both a mobile website and a mobile application. If it is done correctly, then both choices can be strategic and valuable. When it comes to your brand’s strategy, it’s not a question of a mobile website or a mobile, but a two-pronged approach. 

A Comparison: Mobile App vs. Mobile Website

mobile app vs mobile website - comparison

In Conclusion

The “mobile app vs mobile website” will remain a question for organizations seeking to establish their mobile presence. If your business’s goal is to create active engagement with users and provide an app that works like a computer program, then a mobile app will be required to fulfill your requirements. 

Every business must make its own choice depending on its business strategy, marketing goals, and brand positioning. The choice is not about picking one of the two, but instead about finding the right solution to provide the best results for your business. All top of it, a great mobile strategy can reasonably include both a mobile website and an app.

So, what are you waiting for? Turn your followers into customers either by consulting any leading mobile app development company in Toronto or hire app developers!

Let us know if you have any questions like the difference between website and mobile app, mobile app architecture or how much does it cost to create a mobile app or mobile website, we’d love to assist you!