In last month’s blog post, we began discussing the decision to launch a digital platform form as either a native mobile app or a mobile-optimized website. In part 1 of our post, we focused on many of the common denominators inherent to either approach. Now, in part 2, we drill down into the specific pros and cons of each. Let’s break out the most common pros and cons of each, starting with a mobile optimized website.
- Accessibility. Websites are available to all users who have an internet connection, immediately upon going live. This can help launch your platform to a much broader audience, with much lower costs.
- Maintenance savings. Websites avoid costly, ongoing code updates in order to stay up to date with iOS or Android version updates.
- Better discoverability. Websites enable you to more easily, and affordably, market your website through free google analytics and organic search optimization.
- Faster launch time. Websites do not require going through the often cumbersome approval process of either Google Play or the App Store. If either Google or Apple don’t like something about your mobile app, you will be entirely at their mercy to try and change your app to appease them.
- Avoids app store violations. Websites avoid the nightmare scenario of suddenly being taken off the app stores because some element of your platform doesn’t conform to an unexpected update to Google or Apple’s privacy policies, terms of service, or unexplained content-violation.
- Slower Speeds. Internet connections that are necessary to access a website can sometimes be slow for some users, creating a frustrating user experience. Since it’s not possible to cache large amounts of data to a person’s smartphone device, not only is uploading and downloading of simple information often slow and clunky, but it might also render the rest of your platform completely useless when they are offline.
- Less immersive. Websites do not allow for seamless integration with most of the users’ smart phone native functionality, like GPS, Photos, Contacts, Camera/Video, Touch/Face ID, Bluetooth, and Push Notifications.
- Development costs for mobile optimization. Depending on the exact nature of your platform’s content, the mobile-optimized website can sometimes require completely custom content display through what’s known as adaptive coding, versus the more standard (and less costly) mobile responsive approach. Mobile website visitors, these days, have fairly limited patience levels for a less-than-optimized user interface.
Native Mobile App
- Speed & Performance. Mobile apps allow personal data and frequently accessed content to be cached on a mobile app, making the use of your platform not only faster, but even possible when the user is offline.
- Immersive user-experience. Much better user engagement and retention can be achieved on a mobile app through targeted push notifications and integrations of commonly used smartphone functionality such as GPS, Photos, Contacts, and Camera/Video
- Personalization. From a user experience standpoint, mobile apps allow a user to set, and keep, more preferences and settings in place for regular use. And from an engagement standpoint, users within the app can target each other better, based on all those same settings and preferences.
- Trust & Safety. Mobile apps foster more user-trust around safety and privacy. Once an app is approved, there is less possibility of security concerns such as viruses and tracking, which are often hidden through the internet browsers that a website is accessed from.
- Maintenance costs. Mobile apps are usually more costly for ongoing code updates that are required to stay up with iOS or Android version updates, revised privacy policies, and terms of service requirements.
- Profit sharing with Google and Android. If your app allows for in-app purchases, or subscription-based fees to use your app, you will likely be giving the app stores at least 15% to 30% of your revenue.
- SEO. Mobile apps are more difficult to market directly, and organically, within the app stores. Marketing a mobile app often takes more costly advertising than you can get from organic search optimization techniques behind a website.
- Phone real estate creep. This refers to the reluctance of some users to initially access your platform if they have to download yet another mobile app to their smartphone. There’s a belief by some smartphone users that adding yet another mobile app to their phone is going to eat up valuable phone data storage, or somehow create more unwanted push notifications.