In my book, a mobile website is a must. A mobile app…well, ‘maybe’ a must.
Many companies are jumping on the mobile app bandwagon without first understanding mobile or their place in it.
One of the big mistakes people make is just assuming they ‘have’ to have a mobile application. It may very well be that this is not the case and that you will be just as well served with a mobile website.
Here is a discourse outlining some of the pros and cons:
“Matt Friedel, president and chief executive officer at Milwaukee-based Jam-Mobile.com, which specializes in application development on multiple platforms, suggests developing a complete mobile strategy before proceeding.
Native applications are designed for specific phones. They require separate programming for iOS (Apple), Android, Windows mobile and Blackberry phones.
Website analytics on a company’s current website can play a crucial role in developing a mobile strategy.
“It goes back to knowing your customers and knowing how users are already looking at your existing website,” said Joe Regan, principal at Milwaukee-based ModMobile LLC. “Your existing analytics will give you information about what devices are being used to access your website as well as information about mobile usage and what needs are being addressed or not.”
Every company with any significant web presence should start looking seriously at optimizing their mobile presence, Regan said.
“Particularly as we move forward,” Regan said. “Mobile traffic on Black Friday alone was up nearly 10 percent over 2010. If you don’t have a good mobile website you need to start thinking about whether or not your company can afford to lose 10 percent of your sales in goods and services. And that’s just one day.”
Most mobile web traffic originates from a search engine, and 71 percent of smartphone users who see or hear a television, radio or print advertisement will do a mobile search to find your business, Santiago said.
“The first step in any solid mobile strategy is to make sure your website is optimized for all types of mobile devices,” she said. “If I’m searching the web for your products and services but you have no mobile web presence, you’re likely going to lose me to a competitor that makes my mobile experience fast, intuitive and guides me to conversion.”
Regan, a mobile app developer, agreed that a strong mobile web presence must come first.
“Mobile users, more often then not, are not going to find your company through an app store,” Regan said. “People communicating through mobile devices still send links around. As a mobile user you click on a URL. It’s going to take you to a website, not an application. That’s something to think about.”
A native application built for use on an iPhone an Android phone or another platform may play an important role in a company’s larger, focused and comprehensive online marketing strategy, but it’s only a piece of it, Santiago said.
“As the mobile space matures, website design and development is maturing too,” she said. “We are now considering multiple devices in the early web design phases using responsive design techniques and the latest design standards to achieve true media detection.”
Responsive design is the future of web development, Santiago said.
“U.S. consumers prefer mobile web over native apps for comparing products and prices, in-store information, product reviews and videos and for finding location and contact information,” she said. “Consider the fact that mobile search has quadrupled since 2010 and then justify a native application over a mobile web and mobile commerce experience.”
Mike Massie, a mobile technologist and Milwaukee-area mobile product developer agreed that most companies do not necessarily need a dedicated mobile application, but a good mobile strategy is imperative, he said.
“A lot of companies gravitate towards developing native applications,” Massie said. “But an app that isn’t useful will just fall by the wayside, and then it becomes a misappropriation of company funds,” he said.
There are instances where a native application or a cross platform web application is useful, Massie said.
“In general, when a company is looking at a deeper set of needs or deeper integration with the devices’ camera, accelerometer or other system hardware or something that’s a little more process intensive, a native application is a better option,” Massie said. “
For the full original article about mobile websites versus native apps
The upshot is that to decide the best way to move forward (create a mobile website? Create a mobile website and native app?) you need to first figure out where you are going with your mobile strategy. More often than not though, you may very well have much greater success by simply implementing a mobile website. Not to mention this is a much more affordable way to go!
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