If you’re a small business owner, association executive, or campaign manager who has already decided to make a foray into the world of mobile technology solutions, the next question you may face is whether to pursue development of a mobile web app or a native smartphone app.
You undoubtedly want to make a cost-effective decision that will address your current technology needs without leaving you vulnerable to the rapid shifts inherent to the technology world.
In general, mobile web apps are good tools for presenting and consuming content – content viewers. Native smartphone apps incorporate this same functionality with the ability to easily create and submit new content – content creators. Assessing your needs and understanding your target demographic will help you decide whether the final product should serve as a content viewer or content generator for your customers, supporters, or employees.
Let’s take a moment to look at the unique characteristics, offerings and requirements of mobile web apps and native smartphone apps.
Mobile web apps can:
1) Require users to have a data connection to view and/or interact with the site
2) Display an optimized-for-mobile version of your web site
3) Require a reduced workload and time requirement during the development process
Native smartphone apps can:
1) Be written to allow for functionality when a data connection is unavailable
2) Integrate with a mobile device’s hardware, taking advantage of cameras for image and video capture, and gyroscopes/accelerometers for motion-sensing functionality
3) Enable users to easily save contacts and calendar events from the app to their device
4) Require a longer prototyping and development period than a mobile web site
Think of a mobile web app as a smaller, touch-friendly version of your existing web site, while a native app offers you the ability to get creative and take advantage of existing and future mobile technologies that influence the purchasing decisions of smartphone users.
In a previous blog post (3 Reasons Every Small Business Needs Their Own Smartphone App), we highlighted statistics released by a mobile analytics company called Flurry. They estimated that of the two and a half hours the average U.S. consumer spends on his or her smartphone, 80% of it is spent using mobile apps, while only 20% is spent browsing the web.
Based on these estimates, it stands to reason that your own native smartphone app would have more staying power with consumers than a mobile web app. Not to mention that your native app’s icon will be occupying valuable “screen real estate” on your customers’ and supporters’ devices.
And we should mention that you don’t have to choose one over the other. Why not optimize your web site for mobile devices and use it to promote your native app’s availability in the iTunes or Google Play Stores?
Since 2009, Victory Apps has developed and delivered 60 smartphone apps that have been downloaded by tens of thousands of smartphone users. If you would like to learn how our mobile technology solutions can help you expand your reach and break into the next level of the digital frontier, visit us at VictoryApps.com.