Mobile apps are huge business these days, and we often have clients ask us about developing a mobile app to support their business. Mobile apps can generate a ton of traffic and they can be a great option for some businesses’ mobile strategy, but not for all, as a mobile-friendly website may be a sufficient solution. Read more below to learn about the key differences between websites and mobile apps, and to learn which may be best for you.
Is a Mobile-Optimized Website The Best Solution?
If your main goal is to be found via Google Search or you just want to showcase your products and services, then you don’t necessarily need an app. Always, your first goal needs to be to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. How does it look on a phone? If your website isn’t mobile-friendly right now, you may be missing out on a lot of web traffic. Instead of building a mobile app to mimic your non-mobile website, it is best to upgrade your current website to a mobile-optimized version. Websites can be turned into mobile-friendly websites with some specific development and design updates.
Ensuring your website is mobile-optimized can have drastic positive effects on your overall website traffic too, since ‘mobile-optimized’ is one of the key SEO factors that search engines like Google use to rank your website (especially for search queries made on mobile devices). READ: Website Audits for SEO – What To Look For (10 Things Out Of Hundreds)
Mobile Apps Are Powerful
It’s important to remember that mobile apps are NOT the same as a mobile-friendly website. A website and an app are completely different in terms of how they are built, functionalities available, how users find them (web browser vs. app stores), and how users return for future visits.
Mobile Apps Are Great for Special Functionality
The best part about mobile apps is the different types of special functionality they can provide, like using the phone camera or GPS technology. Because mobile apps are mainly used on mobile smartphones, they enable businesses and developers to build special tools within the app that would not be possible on a desktop. The special functionality smartphones and mobile apps can provide include;
Cameras & Augmented Reality
An often-used feature of smartphones is the camera, which allow users to quickly take photos or videos wherever they might be. Cameras allow consumers to interact with apps in a whole new manner. One way is through augmented reality (AR), where the consumer opens up an app and uses the smartphone’s mobile camera to see programmed images and videos that are not physically present in the real world! AR has become quite popular and businesses are using it in unique ways to get their customers engaged with their brand.
Featured App Example: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) recently engaged Caorda to update its “Activating Emily” app with on-device image recognition offered by new mobile operating systems. This app allows users to point their devices at Emily Carr artwork when they are physically walking through the art gallery. The app will recognize the artwork and show additional images and videos in the app, helping art lovers be more engaged through a unique and educational AR experience. Read more about the app in this blog post and app project summary.
3G Data and GPS
If a business has a customer base that is always on the move, tapping into the GPS functionality of smartphones can help provide value to both businesses and consumers. By leveraging GPS and built-in mapping functions, business owners can create useful app features that assist users with directions or relevant information nearby.
Tesla has a Tesla App that uses 3G (or WiFi) and GPS technology to bring additional value to any Tesla car owner. Features include “key-less driving” (Tesla owners can unlock and drive their vehicles without having their keys by simply logging into the app with their specific login), “GPS location” (so Tesla owners know where their car is, and will never again have to experience the frustration that comes with forgetting where one parked), and more.
Finding a Website vs. Finding an App
How someone finds a website vs. how someone finds an app is quite different. When someone finds a new website, they usually do so because they either searched something in a search engine (eg. Google) or they were referred by another website (eg. Facebook). The user then visits the website using their internet browser (Chrome, Safari, etc.).
However, in order for someone to get and use an app on a mobile device, the user needs to download the app through the device’s “app store” (Apple App Store or Google Play Store). These differences can impact the flow of how a user first finds a website or app, but also impacts how users return to them too.
Returning to a Website vs. Returning to an App
Another key difference between websites and mobile apps is how users return to them. If an app is already downloaded, then the user can find it on their mobile device again quite easily with just one tap. This is not as easy for websites, although users can “bookmark” the website on their browser in order to return to it. Either way, the user must know and like your site or app enough to keep the app downloaded on their phone or keep the website bookmarked in their browser.
The Facebook Example
A good case study example is Facebook, which has both a widely popular mobile-friendly website and an equally popular mobile app. How come they have both if they are so similar? Well, they already know people love to use Facebook on their mobile phones, so they made it even easier for people to access through an app. If they didn’t have an app, then users on their mobile devices would have to use their Internet browser on their phones in order to log in and view the platform. The app simply makes it easier for people to visit the site on their mobile phone, thus enabling more mobile traffic with less resistance. Facebook can make the app experience unique to mobile devices as well. The reason a website and app makes sense for Facebook is that they have so much continuous mobile traffic already, but this isn’t the case for most businesses.
Is A Mobile App Right For Your Business?
If you just want a mobile version of your website, you don’t need an app. Our skilled design and development teams can work with you to get your website to be mobile-optimized.
However, if you’re looking to use some of the special functionalities available on smartphones to bring extra value to users, then a mobile app may be a great option!
Contact us here at Caorda today to discuss your website or app ideas!