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Mobile Website or Mobile Applications: The Never Ending Debate

Today’s businesses have gone mobile and the question that most are asking is whether the business in question needs a mobile website or a mobile app or both. Many people can get confused initially as both the camps have several followers who can vouch for each.

Actually, it can be difficult to arrive at a coherent decision given the fact that both mobile apps as well as mobile websites can look pretty similar at the first glance. However, there are major differences, which can be brought to light as below:

A mobile website is actually a browser based HTML website that is in fact designed for the smaller screen of hand-held gadgets. However, apps are actual applications that can be downloaded on your hand-held gadget. These do not need  a browser for rendering. It could be possible for the app to pull content as well as data from the Internet in many ways that is similar to a website. It can also be possible for the app to download the content so that it can be viewed without an Internet connection

Although both mobile websites and mobile applications can be used on the same device, the mobile websites, which are also called web apps, are fundamentally different from mobile applications, which are called apps. Simply put, a mobile app is a program that you can install from an app store to your mobile device. Contrarily, a mobile website is merely a website that yo can adapt for viewing on your smartphone or tablet.

If you want to access a mobile website, then you will need an Internet browser, wherein you will type the URL of website in the navigation bar. Thus, now download is actually needed for accessing a mobile website, but an internet connection is required to gain access to the mobile website. However, a mobile application must be downloaded either from an online store such as an app store or Google Play. This application gets stored on the device and in most cases, does not require an internet connection in order to work.

What is the debate about…

The debate currently is  which is better – is it the app that is better than a mobile website or vice versa. However, the most appropriate choice really depends upon what you want in the end. For example, you might want an interactive game, hence an app is just ideal for you. But in case you want to take your message to mobile consumers and you already have content ready for it, the best idea is to do it through a mobile website.

The following points will clear the air on the debate:

Mobile Website: when it is necessary

1. When the need is marketing or mass communication: A mobile website suits you best when you have a goal that is primarily related to marketing or public communication. A mobile website has a wide number of inherent advantages over apps, which means they are more cost effective and more compatible. Besides, a mobile website can be accessed on a variety of devices using a browsers.  In the case of apps, it is necessary to first download the app from usually a market place before the content is viewed.

2. When you want to create awareness on a mass scale: Also, with the help of a mobile website, it is possible to reach out to many users on many types of mobile devices. However, for native apps it is required to develop  a separate version each type of device. The best part is that a mobile website can be upgraded instantly.  On the other hand, it is not possible to upgrade the app directly. The upgrade must be downloaded so that the app on each type of device can be updated.

3. When it comes to issues such as findability: When it comes to findability, the mobile websites can be found on search engines more easily. These websites can be displayed in the search results of the search engines, so that it can be found easily.  Additionally, visitors to your website can be redirected to your mobile website using device detection. In contrast, you might have noticed that the visibility of apps are largely restricted to the manufacturer app stores.

4. When you want to share it with others: With a mobile website, it is also possible to share it easily between  users via a simple link. However, it is difficult to share an app in the same manner.  Additionally, the life-cycle of a mobile website is more – it cannot be deleted. On the other hand, the average shelf-life of an app is pretty short – Some people delete an app within less than 30 days of installation.

5. When time is short at hand: The time taken to develop a mobile website is lesser and it is less expensive. This is especially true in case where you need a presence on different platforms. Finally,  app development is a lengthier and a much costlier process than building a mobile website.

When apps are necessary

There are several inherent benefits of a mobile web. However, apps are still popular and their popularity is also sky-rocketing with each passing day. Generally speaking, there are many user scenarios which require the use of an app over a mobile website.

1. When you want the best user experience: Interactive games usually require the presence of app for the best user experience.  In case you want to target your users in regular manner on a personalized basis, then you can do it via the help of an app. When complex calculations or reporting are required, then an app is considered to be a much better alternative. If you want to create rich user experiences and allow the user to still use the mobile application efficiently then a mobile app is ideal.

2. When native functionality or complex processing is required: The same can be said to be the case when native functionality or complex processing is required. As the bottom line, what is required is a good Return on Investment (RoI). Hence, when you are developing an app, you will need to understand whether you want an app or a mobile website for your project.

3. In case you want to access to the hardware’s native features: Unlike a web browser, the native mobile app can access the GPS, camera, as well as other hardware features. In case you want to built an app that is highly dependent upon the device hardware, then a mobile app is better.

4. In case you want to build advertising in to your mobile applications. This will generate a lot of revenue if you can get to use our apps for a long period. Thus, your app could becoe profitable in the long run.

5. If you want to send push notifications: In case you want to send push notifications, then your app should have the ability to collect detailed information on the user to send SMS, email etc. Thus you can gain instant engagement with the user.

Conclusion: Hence, for most organizations who seek an answer to the app vs. web quandary, then a mobile app will be the most useful in case your mobile goals are primarily marketing driven. On the other hand, it your goal is interactive engagement then the answer is the need to go in for an app – wherein the app works more like a computer program.

Written By

Daron Torres is a blogger who writes on mobile technology. At present, he is working with 360 Degree Technosoft, a leading Mobile App Development Company that provides best mobile app development solutions of any type of mobile apps platform.



  1. Phil

    March 7, 2016 at 9:22 am

    For Broad Marketing Outreach, A Mobile Website is the Place to Start . When it comes to deciding whether to build a native app or a mobile website, the most appropriate choice really depends on your end goals. If you are developing an interactive game an app is probably going to be your best option. But if your goal is to offer mobile-friendly content to the widest possible audience then a mobile website is probably the way to go.

    Great and deep comparison between mobile app and mobile website. You did a great job Thank you for sharing with readers.

  2. Ann

    November 14, 2018 at 11:50 am

    A well-designed mobile app can perform actions much quicker than a mobile website. Apps usually store their data locally on mobile devices, in contrast to websites that generally use web servers.

  3. aum patel

    November 6, 2020 at 9:12 am

    In case you want to build advertising in to your mobile applications. This will generate a lot of revenue if you can get to use our apps for a long period. Thus, your app could becoe profitable in the long run.

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