In April this year India’s largest fashion portal Myntra.com shuttered its website and went app only. According to some estimates, Myntra pulled around 80% of its traffic and 60% of sales through mobile apps. This made sense for Myntra. However, most enterprises are today struggling to decide on their mobile strategy. Enterprise can choose from a mobile site, mobile app or both depending upon their requirement. We at Knowledge will try to demystify some aspects of this question in this article.
Mobile sites and mobile apps look same in the first instance. However, which one will better suite an enterprise depends upon target audience, available budget, intended purpose, and expected features.
Advantages of mobile site over mobile app
If an enterprises’ goal is marketing, generating brand awareness or public communication, then a mobile site makes sense. It has multiple benefits in comparison to a mobile app.
Availability – mobile sites are instantly available
Mobile sites can be instantly accessed through any device using a simple browser. However, app needs installation prior to use.
Compatibility – mobile sites are OS independent
A mobile site can be accessed from multiple operating platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry or Symbian). However, native apps need to be specifically downloaded from OS specific app store.
Easy update – platform independent
Mobile sites can be updated to reflect new content on any platform (operating system). However, apps need to be updated to each individual OS specific app store.
Cost – low cost as less maintenance required
Mobile site development and maintenance are both less expensive and less time consuming giving it a definite edge over native apps. Creating versions of apps for multiple app stores adds up to the cost.
Sharability –easy sharing
Mobile sites can be easily shared using the URL. However, apps cannot be shared, even if you wish to share something on app it needs support of other social apps.
Findability – easily found using web search engines
Mobile sites can be easily found using web search engines. Their content can be indexed and populated when queried by users. Mobile apps use “Deep Linking” to this effect which is both costly and cumbersome.
Reach – better for mobile sites
Unlike apps, mobile sites are OS independent. Websites support multilingual capabilities which adds to a positive user experience. Apps on the other hand need multiple versions to support multi lingual capability. Hence, mobile sites have a greater reach irrespective of language or operating system.
Advantages of mobile app over mobile site
If an enterprises’ motive is to support users in getting user specific content, access functionality of device, increase engagement and audience targeting then mobile apps are better suited.
Interactive– mobile apps can be personalized
Mobile apps are interactive. Think of gaming apps or any e-commerce apps. These allow users to interact with the program and give desired results on a small screen as well. Mobile sites still need to go a long way in making this possible.
Offline availability – resulting in higher usability
User need not be online in case of most of the apps. Good example is e-book reader apps. User can decide when to go online and buy something. However, this is not the case for websites. Offline availability of sites is also possible however, full functionality cannot be realized.
Personalization – suitable to individual tastes
User can change the settings to suit their needs (think of any notes taking or a calendar app). Mobile sites will not be useful in such cases.
Native functionality – easy to assess device functionalities
Apps can easily access mobile functionalities such as camera, address books, light sensors, gravity sensors. Even though mobile websites have started doing so but security of data is always a concern.
Accessing calculating power of the device
Think of banking, investment related apps. They may do lot of calculations or require higher processing power. This is easily handled using apps.
Mobile site or mobile app will remain one of the biggest digital conundrum till mobile remains a new domain for marketing and product delivery. Enterprises should check their requirements before investing in any of them.
If the real goal is marketing driven, or establish a mobile presence, then probably mobile site is a valid option. However, if the goal is to engage with the audience, generate a personalized experience, provide targeted content, or target audience then mobile app may be the best mobile strategy. In few cases both approaches might work depending on requirement.
What do you think?