With many of our new clients, one of the initial considerations we help them to determine is whether their digital project should launch as a mobile-optimized website, or a native mobile app (on the App Store or Google Play).  In a world of unlimited digital budgets, the answer might be to cover all platforms – both with a website, a native app, as well as even social media and streaming platforms.  But in the real world, enterprise budgets usually dictate focusing on one platform initially.  Since Epic Apps develops enterprise websites and mobile applications, that’s where we’ll focus on this two-part blog post. 

Let’s first discuss a few important common denominators to building your platform, either as a website or a native app; and subsequently, how those basic infrastructure components for any platform choice translates to lower costs whenever you build out your second platform.  In the next part of this blog post, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of a website versus a native mobile app.  

The Backend

Whether it’s a website, or native app, there will be an underlying database that stores all the information that is collected, or consumed by, the userbase of the platform.  The database is like the engine of your platform, and it plays an important role in determining both the content-value of the platform to users, as well as the overall monetary value of your intellectual property! 

The database is the brain behind everything, and once it’s properly coded, it can feed user consumption on as many websites or mobile apps as you desire. If you build a website with a properly designed database, adding mobile apps in the future becomes much easier.   And the reverse is true, as well.  

To enable the platform administrator’s ability to manage all that data, there is usually a web-friendly content management system (CMS).  The CMS is made up of simple web pages used to intuitively create, read, update and delete (‘CRUD’ in techspeak) all the information stored in the database.

The database and CMS are usually set up on a cloud-server environment such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud or Microsoft’s Azure.  Collectively, the CMS and database can be thought of as the “backend” of your platform. 

The Frontend

The “frontend” of your platform is the user interface from which your users will consume, or contribute, the data or content; either through navigating the various pages of the website, or the different screens on a mobile app. When you tackle your second platform, you can basically skip directly onto designing and developing the frontend that’s relevant for that platform, because you will have already completed the backend in your first platform.  

Launching on just one platform, you can more affordably gain expedited user feedback on the overall demand for the underlying premise of your platform.  In other words, is the content you are offering (even if it’s user-generated content) meeting the user needs, and is it relevant enough to spark engaged feedback on where to take the platform next.  Highly interested users are key to proving your concept, and naturally, also help focus your design and development efforts when rolling out the second platform.

So, if you’re not sure whether to launch with a website, or with a mobile app, just remember that you will gain valuable proof-of-concept insights, either way.   As well, the time and money spent on the fundamental building blocks of either platform will carry over when completing additional platforms.  In the second part of this post, we’ll help you to narrow it down further when we discuss the specific pros and cons of the website versus native mobile app.

It is difficult to make the right choice if you fear choosing wrongly.

Roy T. Bennett