Mobile-Optimized Site or Dedicated App? Determining What is Right for Your Business
With the massive proliferation and use of mobile devices such as iPads, smartphones, Android tablets, and advanced e-readers, it has become increasingly necessary for companies to expand their presence in a way that allows for easy access from these relatively new pieces of tech.
According to Nielsen in their 3Q 2011 Social Media Report, approximately 40 percent of social media users access their accounts through mobile devices. As of now, the two most popular ways to reach mobile consumers are through an application or a mobile-based website. While some may think the decision arbitrary, or even that it is necessary to create both, the truth is that choosing incorrectly can result in lost revenue and even utility disadvantages. With that in mind, consider the following before deciding to optimize a site for mobile or build a dedicated app.
One of the first and most important considerations to make when determining the best way to proliferate information to a mobile audience is simply, what platforms will my customers use? While there is technically nothing stopping a business from developing applications for Android, iOS, and others, it becomes very expensive very fast. In addition, it can be difficult to maintain a seamless experience across mobile platforms and companies risk diluting the efficacy of one app in order to accommodate others.
A mobile-optimized site can solve this problem; as long as a device has access to the internet, it will be able to render the pages and interact with the site. Differing operating systems will likely have little effect on the browsing experience (one notable exception being the interaction between iOS and Flash). For businesses that want to reach the widest audience possible, it pays to invest in a mobile-optimized site before, or instead of, a dedicated application.
What do you want customers to get out of your app or website? This can also determine whether an app or a mobile-optimized site will work better for you. For instance, if you require a simple log-in to retrieve information stored on a website and have little advanced interactivity of requirements for integrations, then there is a good case to be made for the mobile-optimized site. However, if you require a smooth interaction with data stored on a personal device, any sort of connectivity with other applications, or offline capabilities, a dedicated app may be your only option. While websites shine in instances of data retrieval or viewing, they generally leave something to be desired when it comes to seamless data manipulation and other advanced utility. Apps are also not as heavily dependent on cellular data or wifi as mobile-optimized websites.Continued on the next page