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If you are an organization, clinic, or company which is making an app available to your customers, you may be wondering whether it’s better to build it as a web app or mobile app. Web apps [applications] are on the web and accessed using a browser. Mobile apps are downloaded and installed from app stores. So which one should you launch first?
We get this question a lot from our customers. It is inspired by the fact that web apps can be accessed from their existing websites. A web app’s user experience is considered to be familiar to their end users. It probably costs less to build and maintain a web app compare to iOS and Android apps.
The demographic has shifted
We started developing mobile apps in 2008. Before 2010 we always advised our clients to start with a mobile friendly web app. Back then mobile devices didn’t have as much memory and processing power. Mobile broadband connection wasn’t as affordable and development tools weren’t as good as today. Also people mostly accessed services on the web using a desktop or laptop computer.
Today iOS and Android devices have a lot more memory and computing power. WiFi is more accessible and mobile broadband is more affordable. Mobile development frameworks are now providing a lot of options. Most important of all, the majority of people are using their mobile devices to access services on the Internet.
To elaborate further on this last point, today about half of the internet traffic is mobile (source: Smart Insights). The data from our existing clients is consistent with what the research firms are providing. In 3 years, this number will only increase.
Today, if you are planning to have a service available as an app, it makes better sense to develop it for mobile first. When it gets to accessing a service on a mobile device, touching an icon and launching an app is always a superior user experience than having to type a url in the browser on your iOS or Android device. They have better access to the device’s features and resources such as geolocation, push notification, and local storage. Also mobile apps can be made to be more secure and reliable than mobile friendly web apps.
Going mobile, you may realize that you don’t even need to make your service accessible to desktop and laptop computers.