Understanding Mobile Marketing: Mobile Apps vs. Mobile Websites

When you set out to make a good impression in the mobile marketing space, the possibilities may seem daunting at first. Mobile app or mobile website? According to Marketing Land, it doesn’t matter. Both sectors have about the same reach. The choice should be based on the criteria that matters most to your business. Some of the common concerns we hear about during mobile app development projects are development time, cost and the process required for future updates. To make an educated decision when it comes to mobile marketing, you need to understand a little more about each.

Mobile websites

There is little difference between traditional websites and mobile websites, with a few exceptions: smaller width, viewport <meta> tag, handheld @media rule, and other technical differences. All things considered, mobile websites are not very different. The primary difference is focus. There is a tendency to elide certain information, even hide entire sections in a mobile website. When sections are hidden in this way, there is usually a “Desktop” button that enables the non-mobile version which may have extra sections or features. Choosing which sections to include requires a strict focus on what is relevant, compelling you to reevaluate what is important to your users.

Mobile apps

There are two large types of mobile apps: Native and Hybrid.

Native apps are written in the programming language of the platform. This means Java for Android and Blackberry, and Objective-C for iOS. Native apps are thought to provide better speed for critical functions, such as image processing, for example. One advantage unique to native apps is fast run-time speed. Disadvantages unique to native apps include development cost (requires device-specific skill set) and lengthy app-store approval.

Hybrid apps are primarily written using web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Many frameworks have become popular which turn mobile websites into hybrid apps. Some examples of hybrid app frameworks include: PhoneGap, Sencha, Titanium, and many others. Advantages of hybrid apps include lower development cost (requires web development skill set), and faster app-store approval. One disadvantage unique to hybrid apps is slower run-time speed, but it is generally faster to load than a remote website.

The Difference Between Native Apps and Hybrid Apps

We have looked at the differences between native apps and hybrid apps. What are the differences between mobile apps and mobile websites? Both types of mobile apps include app-store distribution, which is the primary factor to consider which choosing between mobile apps and mobile websites. When you update a mobile app (whether native or hybrid), it is generally added to the app-store “recently updated” list, which can be an important discovery tool for new users. On the other hand, when you update a mobile website, no one will know unless you announce it.

In conclusion, if you plan to update content frequently, then you should go with a mobile website. If you plan to update content occasionally, then you should go with a hybrid app, which informs users immediately of an update, and potential users that your app exists. If you plan to update content rarely, or have a service which never changes, then you should invest in a native app, which provides the fastest run-time for your service.

See also

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