Understanding The Difference Between A Mobile Website And A Mobile App

6 Mins read
Understanding The Difference Between A Mobile Website And A Mobile App

If you own a business, it is more important than ever to find a way to connect with customers through their mobile devices. Typically, there are two ways that you can reach a mobile audience: you can either build a mobile-friendly website for your business or you can design a mobile app that users can download and install on their devices. 

Although these two options have some common characteristics, they each have their own set of pros and cons. The best way to decide which option is right for your business is by carefully evaluating your company’s needs. This includes taking a close look at the amount of money you have to spend, the audience that you are targeting, and the ultimate objective you hope to achieve.

Key Differences Between Mobile Websites And Mobile Apps

The first step in choosing an option for your business is to learn more about the differences between a mobile website and a mobile app. Although they are both accessed through mobile devices, there are some important differences that you need to be aware of.

A mobile website is a site that has been designed to be compatible with mobile devices. The primary consideration that needs to be taken into account when designing one of these sites is the fact that smartphones and tablets have much smaller screens than desktop computers and laptops. Because of that, they need to be designed in such a way that users don’t have to scroll to view all of the content. 

This is usually accomplished through a process known as responsive design. In essence, this means that the website is designed to “respond” to the size of the screen that it is being viewed on by automatically scaling up or down.

Mobile-friendly sites contain the same type of information as any other website. They can be designed to show text-based content such as articles or how-to guides. They can also display media such as images or videos. In some cases, they may incorporate elements that are designed specifically for mobile users such as integrated maps that automatically detect a user’s location or links that can be used to place a phone call directly from the device.

Mobile apps, on the other hand, are standalone applications, often native app development, that a user has to download and install on their device. Unlike a mobile website, which is accessed through a browser, users have to visit one of the many app stores that are available to find and download the version of the app that is appropriate for their device. Some apps require access to the Internet to function whereas others can be operated completely off-line.

Deciding Which Option Is The Best Choice

Mobile apps and mobile websites can both be effective tools when used correctly. When deciding which option is best for your business, you need to think about what it is that you hope to accomplish. For instance, if you are interested in developing a game, you will most likely want to develop it as an app. On the other hand, if you are hoping to reach customers who are searching for your products or services through their mobile devices, a mobile website is a better choice. You may even decide to develop both a mobile site and a mobile app, depending on your goals.

Most companies start with a mobile-friendly website since it is the easiest way to connect with a mobile audience. It allows people to find you through a standard web browser, making it a good way to reach an audience of people who are not already familiar with your company.

The Benefits Of A Mobile Website

If you are hoping to connect with new customers or to market your products or services, the best choice is almost always to start by developing a mobile website. Here are some of the advantages that websites have to offer when compared to mobile apps:

Instant availability 

Users can instantly access a website through their browser without the need to download or install an app. People are far more likely to click on a link in their browser than they are to download an app from an unfamiliar company. Convincing someone to download your app can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. With a website, on the other hand, people are far more likely to click through to view your content.

Device compatibility 

Apps have to be designed for specific operating systems in order to function. For instance, you need to design a separate version of your app for both Android and iOS devices if you want them to function correctly. With a mobile website, on the other hand, the site will work regardless of what type of device is being used to view it.

Easier upgrades 

Making changes to a website is far easier than making changes to a mobile app. All that you have to do to update your site is to make the changes and save them. They are then instantly viewable through any browser. With an app, on the other hand, you have to make the necessary updates and then push those updates out to users. Before the updates take effect, users have to download them, making the process far more difficult.

Easier to find  

With a mobile website, people can find your content simply by searching for it through their browser. You can also have your site listed in directories that center around your industry, making it much easier for people to connect with your business. With an app, on the other hand, the only place that people can find it is by searching in one of the app stores.

Easier to share 

Sending the URL of a mobile website to another user is an easy process. You can also publish a link to your website on your social media profiles or on your blog. Sharing an app is much more difficult.

Extended Reach  

Because mobile sites are easy to find and easy to share, they generally are capable of reaching a larger audience than a mobile app.


Users often uninstall apps within a relatively short time after they download them. Once the app is uninstalled, they no longer have access to it. With a website, on the other hand, the information is always accessible every time they return to the site.


Mobile websites can be designed in such a way that they actively engage visitors. In fact, in many cases, they can be designed to function almost the same way that an app would. The primary difference is that they can be accessed through a browser rather than having to be installed on the user’s device.

Lower cost 

In most cases, developing a mobile website costs a lot less money than developing a mobile app. It also usually takes less time. Because of that, many businesses choose to start with a mobile website so that they can begin establishing their presence with a relatively minimal investment.

Fewer support requirements 

An important part of publishing an app is making sure that users who have installed the app are properly supported. This can be both time and labor intensive. With a website, on the other hand, there are far fewer support requirements.

Where Mobile Apps Really Shine

There are some instances where mobile apps are a better choice than mobile websites. Understanding some of the best uses for apps can make it easier to decide if your business should build a site or develop an app. Here are some instances where designing an app makes sense:

Game development 

Typically, games function best when they are designed as apps rather than when they run through a website.

Long-term or repeat users

If your content is highly personalized or if it is used regularly, it may be beneficial to deliver it in the form of an app. A great example of this is Evernote.

Data manipulation 

Typically, data-driven applications are best handled by mobile apps rather than by mobile websites.

Access to device features 

If you need to be able to access certain features of the device itself such as its camera or GPS, you may be better off developing an app. Although some of these functions can be built into websites, they generally perform better if they are integrated into an app.

The ability to work off-line 

providing access to off-line content is easier through an app than it is through a mobile website.

Before you invest time and money in developing a mobile app, however, you should really look at your objectives to make sure that it is what you need. In many cases, you may be able to achieve the same results through the use of a mobile website instead.

Summing It All Up

Being able to reach mobile users is becoming increasingly important in today’s high-tech world. Developing a mobile website is a great way to enable mobile users to easily find and connect with your business. Mobile sites are easy to access and easy to share, making them a convenient option for users.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a way to provide users with a more personalized or interactive experience, a mobile app may be a better choice. Apps can be customized to the needs of a specific user. They can also access the phone’s built-in functions, making them a versatile way to connect with users.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to choose just one or the other. You can build a mobile-friendly website and develop an app, allowing you to connect with users in as many different ways as possible.

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