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Mary-Alice Miller

Mobile app vs. mobile website?

Asked October 18, 2012 by in Mobile

We are starting to think about making mosaicHUB more mobile friendly. I think a mobile app would be great, but curious what folks think would be better, a mobile app or a mobile website. We probably cannot do both right now.

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7

Stephen Fiedler

Stephen Fiedler   October 18, 2012

Here's a really good article (with an infographic) that weighs the pros and cons of mobile apps vs. mobile websites and includes market share and type of user base for each:

http://mashable.com/2012/06/06/mobile-site-mobile-app-infographic/

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Mary-Alice Miller
Mary-Alice Miller Wow, terrific infographic. Very helpful. Thanks Stephen.
October 18, 2012
Sebatian Cabrera
Sebatian Cabrera thanks for the resource
October 23, 2012
Edwin Loh
Edwin Loh Gr8 link.. thanks.
April 7, 2013

4

Jay Shapiro

Jay Shapiro   October 24, 2012

Glad you are thinking about a mobile version for MosaicHUB, I think that would be great.

Mobile apps / sites is what I do, so I hope you don't mind if I disagree slightly to some of the above comments about simply reformating the existing Mosaic website into a mobile template for presentation via mobile web browsers on phones and tablets. I liken this to making a TV commercial by holding your company's print ad up in front of a TV camera for 30 seconds.

Users have very different use expectations between a desktop experience and a mobile experience. Your mobile app / site should typically be more oriented to immediate access to functionality that would be valuable to someone on the move. There are some wonderful functions on this site that just aren't relevant to a mobile user.

Similarly, there are mobile-relevant functions that would be great value to your members on the move that wouldn't work on the site. (For example, a "who's near me" function for members to invite other members for a coffee chat...)

Lastly, as for the question of Native App vs. Mobile Site - the simple answer is BOTH! Without being too shamelessly self-promotional, but our drag-and-drop app builder service at www.FANtastic4SMBs.com allows you to simultaneously publish a Native iPhone App, a Native Android App and an HTML5 mobile website, with a single-click. We have a FREE service, or for just $54 you could have a mobile version of MosaicHUB in Google's Android Market + Apple's iTunes markets + on a vanity mobile web URL.

Love what you do, and I'll be excited to see a mobile version!

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3

Mory Bahar

Mory Bahar   October 24, 2012

Mary-Alice,
I have been in your shoes before. We have a web site, mobile site and a lot of apps, some free and most paid.

While I agree with the logic of having both mobile web site and app, I prefer app for a number of reasons. I feel it provides a more intimate and controlled interaction with your "customers". A user that downloads your app has a stronger tie and commitment to you than the one who browses your mobile site. It is also good to have your app icon sitting on their phone, being visible to them all the time.

The main disadvantage of the apps is the cost of developing and supporting them on multiple platforms. This brings me to my next point which could be of help to you. Using some cool yet proven technology developed by friends of mine, they produced an app for us running on both Android and iOS in a matter of couple of days! They used our existing web site content and capabilities. They even improved user experience over our web site. My team did not have to do anything. Some of the key advantages of this approach is that, the portion of the app that resides on the client/phone is very small, downloads immediately, and when we make changes to the app, users do NOT need to download the app again! Perhaps this is exactly what you need.

If you or anyone else is interested in knowing more, feel free to contact me.

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Jay Chopra
Jay Chopra May I please have the contact info of this vendor
November 13, 2012
Rasheed Bolade
Rasheed Bolade Hi Mory, as a mobile marketing consultant I would like to speak with you about your app developer.
November 29, 2012
Mory Bahar
Mory Bahar It is unfortunate that I did not learn about these two comments posted above until now. I did not receive any notification about it. Nevertheless, I apologize for not responding any earlier, and I hope that you will receive a notification about this post. Please email me at morybahar@personalremedies.com and I will send you info about the platform and more!
February 5, 2013
Edwin Loh
Edwin Loh Wow.. good innovaton.
April 7, 2013

2

Jimmy Johns

Jimmy Johns   7 months ago

As long as mobile remains a relatively new frontier, the “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and found on search engines, then the a mobile website is the logical choice. On the other hand, if your goal is interactive engagement with users, or to provide an application that needs to work more like a computer program than a website, then an app is probably going to be required.

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2

Jason Ryer

Jason Ryer   October 23, 2012

For mosaicHUB, it's a tough decision. I develop mobile apps for a living and face this question all the time.

As with many such general questions, the answer is: It depends.

What are the goals? Many people want to monetize their product and having their product in the app stores is akin to having shelf space at Walmart.
(See http://303velocity.com/blog/piece-app-store-pie/) It allows people to browse and buy your product. When it comes down to it, the app stores really serve as marketing and distribution tools.

Getting back to mosaicHUB, I would say that it makes sense to first talk to your customers - which is what you're doing right here, so great job with that! You're already ahead of the game. I would recommend some real back-and-forth voice conversations as well to dig deeper to understand what your customers really want and need.

My personal vote would be for a native app (or apps) simply because it's easier to download, install and generally has a better overall user experience than a website. The problem here, of course, is the cost to develop native is higher and then you have to likely do it again on multiple platforms - at least currently for both Android and iOS. But that's another discussion entirely...

Hope this helps!

Jason
303 Velocity - http://303velocity.com
Your top notch user experience, mobilized.

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2

Melissa Tierney

Melissa Tierney   October 18, 2012

short answer: website

long answer: make sure that your own website is mobile responsive. Many people make the mistake of contracting a separate mobile site with a different domain. Here's a good article about responsive mobile design and content: http://www.site-ninja.com/article/234-responsive-web-design-and-content-management-systems-why-a-mo...

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Daren Coudriet
Daren Coudriet I agree with Melissa. Your mobile site is not a separate site. It is the same site, but presented differently, using a design template and functionality focused on how a mobile user would interact with your site.
October 19, 2012

1

Rasheed Bolade

Rasheed Bolade   November 29, 2012

For a site such as mosaicHUB I would suggest a simple mobile website for the fact that in 2013 more people will be connecting to the internet via mobile devices compared to desktop devices (Microsoft Tag - Pretty much this is saying that eventually everyone will need a mobile website if they want to stay present).

For search purposes & with internet users that are not familiar with mosaciHUB, a mobile website would be great to get them informed as to why mosaicHUB is a great community for them. From there...lead them to the mobile app if they want to become a member of the community.

With that said, since this website is very community-based, I would highly recommend a mobile app. Do your research, you may be surprised at how cost effective getting a mobile website can be especially if you find a consultant that will help you integrate both.

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1

Adam Salerno

Adam Salerno   7 months ago

Forgetting the logistics or feasibility for MosaicHub, as a consumer, I prefer an app to a wrapper or an m-site. That said,something is better than nothing.

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1

Don Flanagan

Don Flanagan   October 23, 2012

I know we don't live in a resource-neutral world but all things being equal, I think you need both. What people fail to understand is that these are two completely different audiences. Mobile Webbers likely don't have a smart phone so the use mobile sites. App users rarely use mobile sites if they can help it.

I know cost matters but be careful if you make this an "OR" discussion vs an "AND" discussion. You will miss a certain % of your audience.

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Carolyn Kraut
Carolyn Kraut You're right about not living in a resource-neutral world, and that goes for our phones as well. Although I have tons of space on my SD card, apps initially load into my phone's memory. Unfortunately not all apps can be moved to my SD card after downloading and my hone came with pre-loaded apps that I can't remove even though I don't use them. So while there are lots of great apps out there I'm not using them and at this point can't even upgrade the ones I have when new versions come out.
October 23, 2012

1

Brijesh Kumar

Brijesh Kumar   March 27, 2013

At my company Rapidsoft Systems, we have developed over 150+ mobile applications and 100+ mobile compatible Web Sites for our clients. The decision between the app and web is often very clear in every instance.

Here is what we advise our clients - Develop a mobile app if you have to deliver a functionality that a mobile web cannot deliver. Repackaging your mobile site as a mobile app is useless idea if a user can get the same information by just opening the site via mobile browser. HTML5 can create sites where user experience is tailored to each mobile device and its browser.

If you want to have the app then deliver something unique and more interesting - Like push messages, alerts, gaming experience, more dynamic user experience etc. This way you can have both a mobile compatible website as well as Mobile app.

I would say go for both and get the best of the two worlds.

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1

Casey Hill

Casey Hill   October 24, 2012

I see a lot of good feedback from a general perspective, but am not sure I saw anyone ask you any questions back...

1. Is your web site currently set up to transition easily into a mobile optimized web site using Responsive Design or Adaptive Design?

2. Is it important to use Push Notifications for messages, alerts, etc for you mobile audience?

3. Does your web site need to utilize native phone functionality like the camera, local memory, etc?

4. Do you want the User to be able to access information at all times, as opposed to being connected to the web?


If you said yes to 2, 3, or 4, then the obvious answer is start working on a mobile app. But if you also answered yes to number 1, then find out the scope of work to "tweak"existing code and make it responsive/adaptive.

Lastly, you might be able to reuse aspects of your site and using PhoneGap ( http://phonegap.com ) or Appcellerator ( http://www.appcelerator.com ) to build out a native app using your JS technologies.

hope this helps.

Casey Hill

@bignamehere
www.linkedin.com/in/bignamehere

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1

Srikiran Rai

Srikiran Rai   6 months ago

The ultimate goal is to have a mobile app. But your starting point should be a mobile phone friendly, responsive, user friendly website that makes your mobile app all the more irresistible.

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1

Kelly McIvor

Kelly McIvor   October 24, 2012

We get this question a lot, too. What we usually do is back up and try to understand business objectives and then lay out a strategy. Then we can start addressing the technology choices. Here are the steps we follow:
1) What are your main business objectives?
2) Who is your audience? Are they carrying smartphones? Do they download apps? Are they in a hurry?
3) What is the mobile strategy? In other words, what experience do you want the mobile user to have?
4) Given all the above, the technical approach - in this case app vs. web - may be much clearer.

In your case I think about your practice of driving people back to the site using email alerts and digests. Your audience is likely reading these from their mobile device. Tapping a link currently takes you to the non-mobile mosaichub.com, which is not a good experience from a smartphone (probably ok from a tablet). A mobile site could help fix this problem but an app won't.

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1

John Flanagan

John Flanagan   October 18, 2012

Hi Mary-Alice,

Speak of the devil - I just posted an article on this topic to my blog. I haven't proofed and officially published it yet, but you are welcome to it:

http://blog.sitecaddy.com/2012/10/responsive-websites-mobile-websites-and-apps-whats-the-difference...

It's a simple guide for the uninitiated to the differences between responsive sites, mobile sites, and apps. It includes some practical recommendations for a progression through the three options. This may be oversimplified for you, but maybe someone will find it helpful. It's hot off the presses - today!

Cheers,

John

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1

Daren Coudriet

Daren Coudriet   October 19, 2012, Edited October 19, 2012

The answer is you need both, but if you need to choose which you do first, I would recommend the mobile website. The reason is that smart phones are increasingly becoming the access device of choice when it comes to the web. Even though the percentage is still small, the trend will continue. So your site needs to be able to intelligently present content to the smart phone user. The mobile site needs a different design and it needs to be more focused. I would say that building the mobile site will help you identify some mobile apps you may want to build in the future.

Here is an example. Check out this site on the web using your computer and on your smart phone:
Canadian Franchise Opportunities - www.CAfranchiseOpportunities.com. This is using a simple WordPress Plugin. For a site like yours, a plugin would not likely be sufficient because you would want to get focused on specific functionality.

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Rasheed Bolade
Rasheed Bolade The problem with WP Plugins is that there is still plenty of coding being sent to a mobile device which slows down the speed. While it is a cost effective solution, I don't typically recommend it as a long-term solution depending on clients objectives.
November 29, 2012

0

Peter Wheaton

Peter Wheaton   October 20, 2012

Our Fencing Franchise are all Apps- Once people download your App they always get your updates and you can get your message out instantly. Our Fencing App allows a fencer to measure , quote, email and order before they leave the job. 90 % of the time we get the Job instantly and get the deposit to start working! Quick , easy and effective and very transferrable.

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0

James Vital

James Vital   4 months ago

Mobile app -> it is an application for mobile. If you want to sell a product to the end user, I will recommend you to go with M-Commerce app solutions.

Mobile website-> It is a specially optimized websites for mobile phones. It is not that convenient for users to buy and sell through mobile websites. But it is an absolute necessity these days.

So for online transactions, I would prefer Mobile apps. You can get them from Agriya. They develop both mobile apps and mobile websites.

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0

Tony Burke

Tony Burke   December 3, 2012

Mary Alice....both platforms have their place in business. There is one major advantage mobile web sites have over apps. and that is in the cost to develop. I am a partner in a startup company, called Capture Local, LLC and we have built an easy to use mobile web platform for small to medium sized businesses. While it is a template it can be customized for the individual business for a very low cost. Please visit our web site at www.capturelocal.net to learn more and let me know if I can answer any of your questions.
Tony

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0

Alisha Truemper

Alisha Truemper   November 7, 2012

Mobile website. They don't take up space on your phone and they can be optimized and tracked like a website for search traffic.

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0

David Beach

David Beach   January 23, 2013

An app is not nessasary but if you get it in the apple or android stores you can pick up alot of interest and people can read it on the train etc.

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0

Darren Beech

Darren Beech   November 15, 2012

App, no contest. :-)

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0

Charles Provine

Charles Provine   2 months ago

I prefer mobile websites, but many are telling me that I need to go to the App. Maybe, but you may have a harder sell when you tell the Client that the App is not branded in their business. But, GroupOn has done well with its brand as the chief know quantity.

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0

Bryce Anderson

Bryce Anderson   November 8, 2012, Edited November 8, 2012

We have taken the route for our systems to operate using a mobile website. This can be more cost effective and in fact everything we do now is mobile-first... yes it must still operate on a desktop / laptop and tablet but these days we believe the trend to be towards using mobiles and with mobiles accessing the internet at ever increasing speeds... people are already using their browser for so much else it is a natural place to access your site. The website can be made to appear just like an app and to operate much the same as well.

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0

Tapani Ranta

Tapani Ranta   November 23, 2012

Mobile app (iPhone, Android and WinPhone). Web pages are ok (if done right) for retrieving information. But to enter any kind of information they are poor to use. That's why I prefer dedicated mobile apps more.

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0

Mahesh Khambadkone

Mahesh Khambadkone   October 23, 2012

Given the primary interaction on your site is to read content, I'd recommend starting with a mobile website. It will also help you understand and play with presentation in the reduced form factors and user experiences, before committing to an application.

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0

Rapidsoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Rapidsoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.   1 month ago, Edited 4 weeks ago

Well, that's some sort of diplomatic question but I am sure that this time I will go forward with the Mobile app and if you ask why it's just because mobile application are way more easier to use rather than getting yourself trying to log into the mobile website I think people are much more interested in using mobile application rather than opening the browser putting the ....... then feeding it the login details. I mean no one has that much time to put on. So going forward with the mobile application worth...

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0

Nizamudheen Valliyattu

Nizamudheen Valliyattu   November 24, 2012

I suggest App

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0

Pedro Dacunos Jr

Pedro Dacunos Jr   December 18, 2012

If you have offline contents, mobile app is a way to go. Mobile sites will have maximum reach, and can be wrapped within your app.

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0

Catrina Sharp

Catrina Sharp   November 13, 2012

It is very important to optimize your site for mobile. I feel that this is priority over a mobile app. However, a mobile app is helpful. Having a mobile friendly website will make your site user friendly across ALL capable handheld devices. The app will only be relevant to those with apps.

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0

Rob Fiore

Rob Fiore   October 18, 2012

I think a mobile app. Just seems more a more effective way to use the tool.

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Mary-Alice Miller
Mary-Alice Miller Thanks Rob! Appreciate the feedback.
October 18, 2012

0

Dimitris Vavatsis

Dimitris Vavatsis   October 18, 2012

I think that the Mobile App is the Future !

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0

Michael Sopata

Michael Sopata   October 18, 2012

I am new here so can't really say much except that once I first set up my blog site I got a comment saying that it was not very vieable from an iPhone..so I loaded the plugin to make it so. Take that for what it is worth.

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Mary-Alice Miller
Mary-Alice Miller Curious, do you remember the plug in you used?
October 18, 2012
Art Remnet
Art Remnet Mary-Alice, if you go this way, you will want a responsive theme rather than a plugin so that you get the best user experience possible for the mobile visitor.
October 24, 2012

0

Victor Afego

Victor Afego   October 18, 2012

A mobile website should come first. It will take care of traffic from new visitors, thereby reducing bounce rates. The mobile app will only serve already registered users more.

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Mary-Alice Miller
Mary-Alice Miller Thanks for the feedback. Good point on the bounce rate.
October 18, 2012

0

Farzad Wafapoor

Farzad Wafapoor   Premium
Managing Director at ASRteam
October 27, 2012

It depends on MH's goals and user-base target:

For example, for Travel apps, numbers show that users prefer app over web. (1)
So is true for Android users, they prefer apps over mobile web (2)
But when it comes to shopping, reports show that consumers prefer mobile web over native apps (3)
and also for browsing news content (4)
But generally speaking, 64% of mobile phone time is spent on apps and of that only 5% is spent on Social Media (5)

I hope that this helped, here are the links:

(1) http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2012/08/for-travel-users-prefer-apps-to-mobile-web.html

(2) http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/mobile-apps-beat-the-mobile-web-among-us-android-...

(3) http://mashable.com/2012/03/12/shopping-via-smartphone/

(4) http://readwrite.com/2012/06/20/survey-tablet-owners-prefer-browsers-to-native-apps

(5) http://na.ad-tech.com/sf/wp-content/uploads/DigitalConsumer.pdf

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0

Ken Hablow

Ken Hablow   October 18, 2012

I agree with Melissa. You can use the same content but in a more mobile friendly layout. Done correctly the transformation from full website to mobile can be accomplished with JavaScript and CSS. A JS sniffer can determine if the visitor is using a smart phone or a tablet and deliver the appropriate content.

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0

Henry L. Caldwell III

Henry L. Caldwell III   October 19, 2012

Mary-Alice, the primary difference between a Mobile App and a Mobile Website is push notifications. This allows you to send out a broadcast message similiar to a email blast without the bounce notifications because everyone gets the messages.

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0

Eric Boussier

Eric Boussier   November 5, 2012

There are technologies out there enabling you to do both with one single code. if you're interested to find out more, please contact me.

Cheers,

Eric

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Jay Chopra
Jay Chopra I am interested in getting the code / info on the technologies you mention here. Thanks Jay
November 13, 2012