With half of website traffic hailing from mobile devices, establishing a mobile presence has never been so important. However, when launching your business into the mobile market one of the first things you’ll likely consider is whether to design a fully responsive mobile website or create a mobile application for users to download, or perhaps both.

At a glance, mobile websites and apps can look quite similar, so choosing which is best suited to your business can be tricky. When making your decision there are a few things you should consider, such as target audiences, available budget, intended purpose and required features.

So, what is the difference between the two? Both apps and mobile websites are accessed primarily on a handheld-devices such as smartphones and tablets. The main difference between the two is the way they are accessed.

A mobile website is a website that has responsive design, which means it can easily accommodate different screen sizes and touch-screen interface. Responsive design is increasingly becoming the standard for websites. Like any website, mobile websites/responsive sites can display text content, data, images and video. In addition to this, you can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.

Whereas, a mobile application needs to be downloaded or installed onto your device in order to be used. Users visit device-specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, or Google’s Play store to search for and download applications. Similarly to websites, some apps need to be connected to the internet to work, others download content in order to be accessed without an internet connection. Generally, native apps offer a faster and more responsive experience compared to mobile websites.

If your goals are primarily related to marketing or public communications, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily maintained, shared between users, and found on search engines then the a mobile-friendly responsive website is the logical choice.

On the other hand, if your goal is to provide a user experience that feels more like a gaming interface or a computer program than a website, or if you need access to a user’s phone storage and native functions, such as the camera, then an app is probably going to be required. Additionally,if you want to engage better, interact with, and communicate with your customers to drive customer loyalty, a mobile app presents itself as a better option.

If you are still undecided, a mobile/responsive website is almost always going to make sense as a practical first step in your mobile outreach strategy. This is because a mobile website has a number of inherent advantages over apps, including broader accessibility, compatibility and cost-effectiveness. In many cases, you may decide you need both a mobile website and a mobile app. If done correctly, both can be a strategic and valuable choice. In the end, it’s all about choosing the right tool for the job.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your businesses mobile presence.