The other day I had a chance to chat with one of the leaders of a regional company that delivers food from restaurants. During the conversation, it turned out that the company wants to expand its audience through “mobile” users and is considering two alternative options at the first stage:
- Create your own branded mobile application.
- Adapt your site to all possible screens and resolutions (responsive web design).
Since the budget for the development of the product allows you to choose only one option out of two possible, the whole conversation came down to a discussion of the features of these products and the search for the optimal solution.
If we introduce the main pros and cons of each decision, we get the following.
What are the advantages of a mobile application compared to a site adapted for a mobile device:
The application allows you to implement a unique interaction with content that cannot be done through a regular Internet browser of the device.
This is explained by the fact that the application has almost full access to the phone’s functions: address book, camera, GPS navigator, accelerometer, etc. Even though many of these functions are already available in the libraries of the new HTML5 markup language and can be implemented on modern phones, mobile applications provide more convenient opportunities for their use.
The application is created for specific tasks and has exactly the functionality that is necessary for their implementation, there is no superfluous.
In contrast to the adapted site, which is a truncated version of the “full-format”, the mobile application is a complete product. Adaptation is in any case “adaptation to the given conditions”, in this case, to the screen size, some site options will be disabled, some blocks are hidden. The “mobile” site is more focused on how to correctly present to the user the entire array of information that is laid down on the site, while the mobile application was originally built with the expectation of an individual user.
From this, more general benefits follow:
Focus on regular use
The mobile application provides quick access to exactly those options that may be required by the user “here and now.” If the consumer intends to often use the services of a service company, then a mobile application is what he needs. Using the geolocation option, the application can tell you where the nearest service point or brand store is located, with the help of a push notification inform about the action of the promotion, tell your friends in social networks about your location in the network institution, upload a photo directly related to the brand name.
Thus, the application offers a whole range of communication functions that are aimed at making the application not only a tool for choosing a product, a means of information, but also a platform for communication. A very rare “mobile” site boasts such multitasking and interactivity. In addition, many applications have inherent options to stimulate their more frequent use (bonuses, discounts, special conditions), the possibility of “self-promotion” on sites is still poorly implemented.
Loyal Audience Tool
Installing a mobile application involves a whole set of actions by the user. Even if these actions themselves are not at all complicated, not every user is ready to go through the necessary procedure. If the user decides to install a branded application, he most likely intends to actively use it, and this is a big step towards achieving his loyalty.
Ease of use and access
Since the mobile application is, in fact, a local program installed on a mobile device and using Internet access for work, it has a significant advantage – support for “heavy” graphics and animations that do not depend on the bandwidth of communication channels. The Internet acts only as a source for updating information, and the entire software “foundation” is installed on the device during the initial loading of the application. The same feature allows you to use some of the application’s options without Internet access, “offline”, which in the case of mobile sites is not supported by all mobile devices.
Well, among other things, the “icon” of the application on the desktop of the mobile device acts as a kind of advertisement, which constantly flashes before the eyes of the user, and as a “quick entry point”. A mobile site can only be registered with a user in browser tabs, and the contact strength, of course, will be significantly lower.
But everything is so cloudless in working with mobile applications. Below we consider their shortcomings, which naturally become arguments in favor of the choice of “adaptation” of the site.
If a website with an adaptive layout will look equally good on a smartphone screen running both iOS and Android, then to develop a mobile application you will have to make separate products for each of these platforms, which is associated with a significant increase in the cost of developing a solution.
An adaptive site has no problems with what type of device it is browsing: it will work on a widescreen monitor and on a simple phone with Internet access. The audience of mobile applications is significantly limited to owners of smartphones and tablet computers.
To launch a “mobile” site, no additional expenses are required. To launch and promote a mobile application, licenses are required for placement in the AppStore, Google Play, Windows Store.
Support and update
Refreshing an adapted website is much easier than a mobile application. In the first case, you need to consider only the features of the mobile format, in the second – release the next version, which the user again has to download. It is no longer possible to control the application when it is already downloaded. Consider this important feature if you have to change the functional part of the resource and content.
The relevance of the adapted site depends only on the relevance of the information presented on it, the tasks of the business and the needs of the client. Irrational factors such as “fashion” and “viral effect” have a significant impact on the life of a mobile application. A remarkably designed application may simply “not go” because it was launched at an unsuccessful moment or something the opinion leaders did not like. The site is less pretentious in its communication goals, it does not pretend to be serious attention on the part of the user, and therefore is less prone to the volatility of public opinion.
Both mobile sites and applications need to be promoted. In the first case, traditional SEO tools are used (since the adapted website for search engines is de facto the same “big” website), in the second case, the application is displayed in the TOP in specialized application stores (AppStore, Android Market, etc.). Both options have disadvantages. Competition of sites in search engines is known to everyone – it is extremely difficult to get into the TOP by highly competitive requests, the result is not always predictable, it appears only after a few months and is not constant. The popularity of the application largely depends on the viral effect and also cannot be guaranteed.
To summarize, the creation of a mobile application, as a rule, is advisable for companies operating in the b2c sector for an audience with medium and above-average income, with a developed network of service points, with a product that requires regular use. If your resource has a reference and informational character, and the main priority is accessibility to the widest possible audience and instant access (for example, to company contacts), then most likely a site with an adapted layout is most suitable for expanding the audience of your business.