A great percentage of users utilize tablets and smartphones to access news and other information as compared to desktops and laptop computers. This makes it essential for a media companies to have an appropriate layout for both tablet and smartphone users, so as to not miss out on potential and existing consumers.
A well designed website should allow an user to easily search the website for what he/she is looking for. But making a compact and yet readable version of a complex website which media companies have, is a challenge. Mobile apps and mobile friendly website may look similar at first glance and choosing between the two or both depends on a number of factors like target audience, purpose, required features etc.
Before determining the right one for your company, you should evaluate the key differences between the two. A mobile friendly website contains the same content as the desktop version, it consists of the browser-based HTML pages accessed over the internet. The distinguishing characteristic from a desktop version of the size is that elements are placed in way to make it readable to the user in a smaller screen. Responsive web design is becoming a standard for new websites and also an important feature. The mobile friendly site can display the same content as on the desktop version, complete with text, images and videos if any. Additional features like click-to-call or location mapping can be added to the mobile friendly website.
Apps are applications downloaded and installed on to the handheld device, it is not rendered with a browser. Users visit app stores in order to find and download the app they are looking for. The app can pull data from the internet, similar to a website or it may download content so that it can be viewed without accessing the internet.
If the primary goal is to market or publish communications and articles, a mobile friendly /responsive website is going to make better sense is should be the first priority to reach out the handheld device users. A mobile friendly website has broader accessibility, compatibility and is cost effective as compared to an app.
Let us consider some key advantages of a mobile friendly website:
- Mobile websites are instantly available to users via browsers across a range of devices. Even a basic phone with access to internet can access a mobile friendly website. Apps on the other hand require particular system specifications and cannot run on devices apart from smartphones with the required features. Also, not all users are going to download apps for a specific media publication company and would prefer apps that congregate and compile news altogether for them - a significant barrier between initial engagement and action/conversion. It has a broader reach as compared to an app.
- Mobile websites can be upgraded instantly without asking users for permissions. It is more dynamic in terms of flexibility to update content. Changes done on a website are immediately visible on the mobile site too. Apps update according to the user’s preference and may need user’s permission.
- Finding a mobile website or a website in general is easier than finding an app. This is because of SEO and of course google search. More conversions happen via searches as compared to apps. It has a broader reach as compared to an app.
- It is easy to share content from mobile websites by simply copying the url or the shareable link which might sometimes not be available for all the types of data on an app. Copying any type content from a website is a feature available in all smartphones and handheld devices.
- Mobile websites cannot be deleted, they are always available. According to a recent research, the shelf-life of an app is pretty short (30 days), so unless the app is something truly unique and/or useful to the user, chances are that he/she will eventually delete it for more space.
- With the trend of responsive websites, mobile friendly websites are cost effective and easier to develop as compared to a mobile app. Also the investments considering the troubleshooting, maintenance and updates, it is easier and more cost effective in the case of a mobile website.
So many negative points about mobile app? Do you really need one? Let us consider when a mobile app makes sense.
- User interactivity: when you want the user to heavily interact with a particular set of information you are displaying, For eg: games, quizzes etc. apps make more sense.
- For regular users when you want to provide them with personalized data.
- When you want to provide the user with an option of saving content to the device or provide access during unavailability of an internet connection.
- If you are providing the user with data that needs complex calculations, data manipulation, reports etc.
- Access to camera.
Conclusion: The app vs web remains a confusing consideration for many organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. If your goals are marketing driven or if the aim is to deliver content to a wide range of audience, which is easily maintained and easy to share between users, a mobile friendly website is a better option.
On the other hand, to provide a unique user experience with the use of specific programs and features like access to camera, saving content, offline access, a mobile app is a better choice. Plenty of organizations have both mobile friendly website and apps.