Since the introduction of the iPhone, the debate over how to distribute content to customers through mobile devices has centered around the misconception that you have to choose between developing a native mobile app or a mobile website. The truth is, it’s not an either or battle. Mobile websites and native apps offer different benefits and serve different purposes which create better customer relationships when they work together. At the end of the day, people don’t care about the web vs. app debate; they just want to find what they’re looking for on whatever device they have in front of them.
Of course other factors do come into play with this discussion – price, timing, audience, etc., but the focus always needs to be placed on how people will experience, engage and interact regardless of the platform. App users and web users coexist not because they use both to perform the same function, but because they use each independently to solve different problems. Apps are generally used by your “heavy users” to perform definitive, more personal and reoccurring tasks, while websites are used more for generic research or quick lookups on-the-go. Simply put, doing vs. searching.
Doing vs. Searching may help to provide clarity as to why your customers need these tools, but additional questions need to be asked that help evaluate the best development and deployment strategy:
- Why do you want or need a native app?
- What platforms are you trying to reach?
- How often will you make updates?
- What is your budget?
Like any other media, mobile development is not a one-size-fits-all solution and should be structured to fit your customers’ needs and goals regardless of what device they have in front of them. Native apps provide rich media integration with a higher engagement rate, while mobile websites offer a wider reach at a lower cost. But, it’s always more important to focus on making something people can use.