Choosing between a mobile or web app

Choosing between a mobile or web app

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If you are an organization, clinic, or company making an app available to your customers, you may wonder whether it’s better to build it as a web app or a 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. Building and maintaining a web app is probably cheaper than 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. Mobile devices didn’t have as much memory and processing power back then. The mobile broadband connection wasn’t as affordable, and development tools weren’t as good as today. Also, people mainly 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 provide. In 3 years, this number will only increase.

Today, if you plan to have a service available as an app, developing it for mobile first makes better sense. When accessing a service on a mobile device, touching an icon and launching an app is always a superior user experience than typing 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 need to make your service accessible to desktop and laptop computers.