Mobile app vs Website for my startup?

 In Custom website development, Mobile App, Mobile app development, Website development

We live in a digital age where everything if it must exist well, has to exist online. It is not surprising that we have come to that point that if we do not find something online, we cannot really trust it. The era where opinions of people we knew mattered has long gone, what matters now is the online reviews- the ones on glassdoor for those who are seeking jobs and the ones on Google for those who are looking to engage in a financial transaction.

In such times, it is only obvious that one needs to maintain their online presence and manage it well too. The very first step towards managing online presence comes in the form of a website because that is where all the users go. But then, aren’t we all shifting to mobile screens now and hence it is the apps that take most of our attention?

Comparing website and mobile app

With an average user spending over 6 hours on their phone daily, having an app makes sense. But, does that beat the importance of a website? Should businesses actually start prioritizing apps over websites? Have we reached the time where websites wouldn’t be of any interest at all? Or, are the data points skewed and are in favor of only those who use mobiles? Isn’t a lot of the Indian population still using feature phones and relying on the world wide web to get their information? So, with so much confusion and varied situations at hand, what should one do? Should the website be a priority, or should the app be one? Is one of them just enough or should one go for both? This blog tries to answer that.

The approach which we have taken involves the comparison of first a website with mobile apps because that is the primary question. Next, we compare apps with mobile optimized websites because mobile-optimized websites as the name says can be easily handled on a small screen. We will then discuss the pros of both of these in silos.

While, one might expect us to lay out a conclusion, which we will, in any case, our focus would be in enunciating the cases which would best suit your specific business interests.

All that being said, here we go discussing these points in detail below. 

How websites are real online entity?

Usually, until it is an app-only service, a website is maintained because that is how one makes a way for their app to be downloaded. It isn’t necessary that the website has to be fully functional content and graphic-heavy one. A lot of apps have only basic one-page websites to support them. These websites are useful because any day, SEO for a website is way easier and effective as against the SEO for an app. Secondly, even to run a basic Google AdWords campaign, you will require a backup website to fall back upon. And since, AdWords and SEO work on optimizing the keywords, nothing would ever help you more than having a dedicated domain name and a website on it.

Other than that, there are a lot of things that gives websites an edge over apps or at least justify their support function. Some major ones are listed below:

  • It is cheaper and faster to make a website. This means that while your app is under construction, you can still keep spreading the word about it through your website. A basic single page aesthetically pleasing website can be made in an amount as less as ten thousand and can be ready within a matter of days.  Why should one then miss out on it?
  • A website is device agnostic, which means that it can be opened and operated on any device, irrespective of the device size and technical specifications. This means that even if the app is optimized for Android or iOS only, the website would still help. An example of the same would be the Internshala mobile app. While the mobile app is compatible with Android users only where understandably lies the majority user base, yet the equally good website is available for iOS users too. Thus, ensuring that the business never gets lost.
  • Also, when it comes to businesses that work on a content-based model such as Quora or health and fitness blogs, no matter the kind of ease of usage and utility an app might offer, it is a website that rules the game by getting more traffic on it.

Lately, app stores have been continually improving upon their search functionality in order to make app discovery easier and the apps more accessible. However, it is still a long shot from what search engine optimization does for websites.

All that being said, it is important to note here that the world is still going mobile. So, an app will have its own advantages over a basic website. A mobile-optimized website, however, can be a good resource. In our next section, we discuss how app fares when compared to mobile-optimized websites.

Offer mobile app if you already have a website

Having mentioned the benefits that a website has or may have over having just an app, this section spells out how just a website isn’t the way to go about. So, with the heavily mobilized world, here is our take on the importance of mobile websites when compared to a mobile app. 

A mobile app has a plethora of benefits that we would be anyway laying out in our next section. The same holds true for websites too. For customized user experience, the process doesn’t always start at a website. A lot of us do not have desktops or laptops and still access the internet. An app is a gateway to that or if it is a basic smartphone with a basic browser, then a mobile-optimized website would still do the trick. However, for users like these, a mobile website doesn’t make much of a sense. This is because such sections of the audience become the specific ones and hence whatever needs to be done has to be specifically in sync with the personal interests of the audience. Personalization, in other words, takes the center stage. Such a section of the population isn’t as well read so as to go to Google and search the entire website(s) to find the relevant answers. Such a population gets happy to receive notifications and then decides their way ahead. Now, this medium to lower medium income group is usually the majority audience in any country. The per capita income might differ, but it is this section that defines the majority services a firm is looking at offering. As we mentioned, this audience wants personalization and is the most responsive to notifications or promotional SMS. And, what solved this purpose in the best manner- well, a mobile app!

However, things do not really end there, because just like we said, it isn’t a competition to find out which one is the best. So before we jump to a conclusion, let us look at the absolute benefits that an app or a website has to offer. 

Benefits of Having a Mobile App

We had talked about this in detail in one of our previous blogs too. However, here are a few pointers in short.

Brand Building

An app is an entity totally different and separate from a company’s website. It has a flavor of its own and the flexibility to modify itself to suit the client. Plus, unlike a website that is the company’s mouthpiece and hence cannot be changed significantly, an app allows for experimentation. For that matter, one can experiment with the banners and ad positioning in an app and then the basis whatever works best can change the flavor of the website. Thus, an app acts as the experimental front towards brand building.

Personalization

Since an app is on the user’s phone, it is personal to them. Thus, it allows the firm to completely model the app as per the individual user’s preference, an opportunity, a website doesn’t necessarily provide.

Leverage Device Capabilities

There are several things that the phone collects about the user. An app has the option to leverage all that. Especially since people do a lot of their work on phones, an app can get a lot of information about the kind of websites the user engaged with, the user preference regarding other apps, the user’s location, etc. All these data can be instrumental in creating an effective marketing strategy.

Increased Continuous Engagement

Another major benefit that an app offers is that of continuous engagement. Through push notifications, in-app notifications, flash notifications, emails and a lot of other on-screen notifications, an app can keep engaging its users as well as providing them with the necessary immediate push should they leave the transaction cycle in between.

Offline Access

Much to our surprise, the cached pages of mobile apps are available online and some of the apps also offer functionality, although limited even without an active internet connection. Thus, an app can be of great use to access information anytime.

Let us now have a look at the myriad benefits a website has to offer!

Benefits of having a Website

Larger Reach

We have mentioned it earlier and we will mention it yet again but the kind of reach that a website can be provided for the target users is unparalleled and it is going to take some time before any other platform matches this. The SEO, social backlinking, social media mentions, all of them are redirected to the website and hence for any firm, a website becomes the major source of providing information to its customers.

Cost-Effective

Making a website is a technology that has been around for a really long time and hence the expertise that people have in it is pretty advanced. Plus, this thing has been very old. All of this means that website creation is cost-effective and fast.

Wider Visibility

A website exists on the web, which means anyone who wants to access it can access it in its full glory without having to worry about which operating system they have. Plus, a website is simply the right keyword search away which means that a website provides the kind of visibility which no other platform can. 

The Revenue Generation

Again, websites have been the mode to run revenue generation. It will not be an exaggeration to say that until the past 2-3 years ago, digital marketing was synonymous with website marketing. The entire PPC campaigns are run on that. Plus, they are easy to master as against the mobile apps and hence revenue generation through a website becomes easier and more effective away.

The Better Option!!

Honestly, and we feel that you must have realized this too- there is no better option. Whether you need a mobile app or a website is purely a function of your objective. It was a piece of big news when Myntra went app only. But it still sustained well and the app only model made sure that the users had it installed, resting on their phone screens. While, one might think that it is a good model to follow, yet one needs to see that before Myntra finally took this approach, it had made a huge customer base for it already. The kind of variety and quality of products that one can find on Myntra still remains unbeatable, irrespective of the number of competing brands that have come up. While an app-only model worked for Myntra, the competing brands still maintain an app as well as a website. Even Flipkart and Amazon still maintain both despite the piling up cloud costs and how they get the majority traffic from their apps only.

The reason is that it isn’t just about which works better, it is also about how one reduces the loss of opportunity cost.

The crux is that one needs to understand that an app and a website aren’t models that are competing. They form an ecosystem for a successful e-commerce or online presence. How does one make the most of it? Well, that is a decision which every individual business owner needs to take.

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