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Mobile Apps vs Mobile Websites

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Mobile devices are growing increasingly popular, and with them, mobile apps. Whether you have an Android, iPhone or Windows, you can most likely find an application for just about anything that you can think of. After all, consumers are told that no matter what they are looking for, there’s an app for that. However, most consumers aren’t aware of mobile websites and the efforts that go into creating one. While most mobile phones and tablets can handle existing websites that are commonplace on the internet, the usability is limited. Thus, responsive web design standards have been developed over time to offer a scaled down, optimal and mobile friendly versions of the sites with features that can be utilized by these portable devices.

Even though mobile applications are more commonly known, mobile websites are cheaper to develop in the long run, and can extend the reach of your solution to a multitude of platforms. Most website owners have been seeing a major shift in the consumption habits of their audiences. The organizations that don't act now may find themselves behind the curve. For the first time in years, PC sales have had a lower forecast than they were before. So what are people shopping for this year? Amongst other mobility devices, Tablets are projected to be a hot commodity in 2013. Website owners are experiencing a tremendous increase in traffic coming from mobile devices. According to a latest study, vendors are expecting to ship in excess of 100 million tablets this year.

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Currently, there are three major platforms for mobile devices, Android, iOS and Windows 8, all of which are in competition with each other.  Ultimately, this means that you would have to design a different application for each of these platforms in order to reach the widest audience. While cross platform libraries are available (phonegap, appcelerator/titanium) for building native applications using web based technologies, they are also not without demerits. Both native as well as hybrid apps are not straightforward in terms of development complexity.

A Mobile website, is a much better option when you have an aggressive schedule and constrained budget. They can be accessed by any phone with internet capabilities. This allows the information to target a wider audience. An individual can access the content despite his choice in mobile platforms. Moreover, the code will not need to be written several times over. In fact, the code is already there in the form of the current site, which has to be reworked.

A responsive web design uses 'media queries' to detect the environment it's running on (device type, screen resolution etc) and adjust the site's behaviour appropriately. For instance, on touch screen devices the site can activate a gesture listener module, enabling the user to navigate articles using swiping gestures.

The basic premise behind responsive web design is to develop the site once, it will become compatible with thousands of different devices and ensures a great experience on every screen.

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Although the development of a mobile website can be an easier and more beneficial option, apps may still be necessary. First, it all depends on the product or service being offered. Things like games, dictionaries and translators would be more efficient when accessed directly from the device. Moreover, applications are a great benefit when there is no internet connection available. They allow access in ways that mobile websites cannot - heavy database processing, rich interactive 3D games, camera access are a few.

The fact is, there are pros and cons for both methods. Ultimately, the consumer needs to be taken into consideration. When the advantages of these options are weighed, a simple factor tends to be left out. Consumers know about apps. Designing a website that works efficiently and effectively on mobile devices is important. The better the website works, the more professional the company looks.

The general recommendation most experts give is that a mobile website should always be created. Applications should be secondary. When considering the development of an application, questions must be asked. Is it something that should be utilized without the internet? Are complex calculations required? How much interactivity is necessary?

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Remember, also, that there are more people familiar with web design than native application design. There will be fewer mistakes, and of those, most can be corrected quickly. Applications will take more time to get right. Some people will still argue that a company should invest in developing their own native apps to keep up with the mobility trend - they should also keep in mind that while brand awareness is important, a poor product can be terribly detrimental.

 

Since their inception in 2005, Archimedes Services has been providing quality software solutions and consultancy to brands, media companies, digital agencies and enterprises. With expertise across major cutting edge technologies on enterprise, web 2.0 and mobilility, we have a track record of delivering successful products to our ever-growing list of clients.

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Guest Tuesday, 26 September 2017