If you run a website as part of your business, you may have been thinking about developing an app. But do you really need one, or is a mobile-friendly website enough?
To make an informed decision, you need to understand the difference between a mobile website and a mobile app. And how each might benefit your business.
Mobile or responsive website
Let’s start with the mobile website, sometimes called a responsive website. You may think that once you have a built a website, that is enough. Anyone should be able to view it on any device. While there is an element of truth in this, standard websites can be difficult to view on smaller screens causing visitors to leave quickly. This is why most people now make sure that their websites are responsive. This means that the display changes depending on the screen size. Content is ordered differently and menus are condensed to make the whole site easier to view and navigate on a mobile device.
See for yourself
If you are not sure how this works, go to your favourite website on your mobile device and see how it differs to the same website on your laptop. Many websites will actually respond before your eyes if you reduce the size of the window on your PC. A well-designed website will optimise its display across a range of PC, tablets and smartphone screen sizes.
You don’t need to build different websites to achieve this, you just need to make sure that your main website is coded correctly using CSS queries. Most out-of-the-box websites will already include these features and any good developer will build your site to be responsive. With the majority of users now using mobile devices, your website should be responsive whether or not you also have an app. Most websites switched to responsive designs many years ago but some major websites, including the BBC, did not go responsive until 2015.
Apps are different because they are usually designed to perform specific functions. Think about the apps that you might use such as Instagram or Twitter and how you use them to perform certain tasks such as uploading a picture or posting a comment. Apps are usually preferred if a user is going to perform certain tasks on a regular basis. For example, an online casino player might visit the mobile website of a company such as Ruby Fortune Casino and decide they like the choice of games and bonuses on offer. They may then choose to download the company’s app so they have easy access to the games and don’t have to visit a browser or log in every time they want to play. Likewise, music lovers might head straight to the Spotify app to listen to their favourite tunes.
So, if you are still not sure what is the function of an app, think about the product or service you offer and imagine if your customer will become habitual visitors and whether there are certain tasks or information they will want to access on a regular (daily or weekly) basis. If the answer is yes, then you will probably want to develop an app.
But remember, this will require additional upfront and ongoing costs and you will need to develop apps for different operating systems. An app is not essential to every business so you need to decide whether you will get a sufficient return on your investment.