In about 75 percent of cases where a company asks us if we can develop an app for their company, what they really need is not an actual app, but a more fully mobile website. When a company asks for a separate mobile website, what will most often serve them best is a conversion of their existing website into mobile-responsive design/programming. So what’s the real deal between mobile websites vs mobile apps?
Mobile Websites vs Mobile Apps
First, a mobile-responsive website can be easily modified to reflect the needs of your mobile users. You can customize your mobile CTAs – they can be different from those on your desktop site. Second, your website should be the hub of your online communication. It is controlled by you, changed by you, and analyzed by you. While an app can often provide an interesting or productive tool, or bridge the gap between your website and a social media platform, it typically is insufficient to act as the hub of all your digital marketing efforts.
In our experience, the vast majority of apps struggle to find an audience because they don’t have high productivity or entertainment value, thus failing to retain users. Developing apps to meet the requirements of most app stores takes time and money – often upwards of $10,000. Without doing any advertising or having the visibility provided by apps stores, most apps will never become popular enough to make money. In addition, about 20 percent of apps are only used once. While this is an improvement for the app industry, it still shows that s high percentage of purchased apps get cast aside. The most used apps are usually sports or gaming oriented. So if you’re not in those industries, you’re much better off with an optimized mobile site. It keeps visitors coming back, and is the first source of reference for a mobile user.
There also appears to be some disparity between when users think they are using an app and when they actually are using an app. A December 2014 report from the IAB shows that despite early reports that mobile users prefer apps, more than half of web users actually prefer surfing the mobile web, or click through from an app to get to the mobile web.