We all know that consumers are flocking to mobile in increasing numbers, but very few brands offer outstanding mobile experiences. There’s lots of work to do, but where do you start? For a while everyone assumed an app was best, but lately responsive and adaptive mobile sites have been getting most of the attention. Which makes the most sense for your content, your industry and your company? Here are 10 questions to ask yourself before making a decision.
How to know if mobile web is best for you:
Is your budget limited?
Generally, mobile web can take less development time than deploying apps to lots of different app stores. Changes only need to be done once and customization for individual devices is less expensive.
Is your content mostly promotional?
App stores frown on apps that are mostly promotional. The Apple app store in particular requires a strong value add, beyond marketing and product specifications. Android, Microsoft and Blackberry are less picky, but users still don't want to spend time downloading an app only to see promotional material.
Are you worried your customers will not find you?
App stores are filled with hundreds of thousands of apps and it is difficult to promote yourself. If you don’t have a strong brand or a high traffic website to direct users to your app, it is probably best to stay on mobile web and build a following using a targeted inbound marketing campaign and basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques.
Is social sharing important?
Social sharing is best done with a mobile website, as it is preferable to have online links that are sharable and searchable. Apps can be shared, but are more limiting.
Do you expect your interface to change regularly?
Mobile web is easier and less expensive to update. If you expect your interface to be changing regularly, mobile web may be the best way to go.
How to know if an app is best for you:
Do you expect your clients to be reusing the tool over and over?
Alternatively, do you have an advisor/sales team who will be using the same tool with a lot of different clients. If the tool is going to be used on a regular basis, an App is an obvious solution and users will enjoy the ease of having an icon right on their mobile desktop.
Do you want to use a lot of the built in features of mobile devices?
Generally speaking, features such as the camera, flash, GPS, accelerometer and push notifications are best performed within an app.
Does the tool need to be run offline?
Perhaps you’re building a kiosk without a reliable connection to the Internet or you have a tablet app for a sales force which will only have occasional Wi-Fi access or you’ve built a mobile phone app and you don’t want your sales force to be constantly paying for data on their phones. Apps are the best choice if you intend on using the tool offline.
Do you intend on using lots of intensive animation?
If you’re planning on creating an action game or some sort of 3D animation that will require serious processing power, you probably want to consider an app.
Do you require lots of personalization?
If your app involves storing lots of personal content and you don’t want to take on the cost of an online database, an app may be the best solution.
Clearly Apps and Mobile Web each have their own advantages and sometimes you may even want to choose both. Either way you go, use industry standard technology such as HTML5 and a responsive/adaptive framework, and you'll probably be able to leverage the work you have done on one platform across the other or both in the future.