The ability to adapt. It’s in the core definition of doing business – one can’t be just quick, one has to be quicker. In a nutshell, there’s little chance to win for companies that can’t adapt to modern trends. That is why the question in the title of this article is very important, especially for the growing businesses.
Being trendy themselves, startups are more likely to be innovative in their business approaches. At least, they should be. And one of the recent trends is the rise of mobile. As the Deloitte’s report says, almost 80% of global consumers use smartphones, about 10% of them own wearables, and more than 50% have tablets. Consumers are attached to their mobile screens – 93% of the consumers in emerging markets and 78% in developed markets look at their phone within an hour or less from the time they wake up.
(infographics source - Deloitte)
So it seems easy to put two and two together. Mobile apps have become so popular that there’s a growing tendency in the startup world to overlook websites in favor of developing a mobile app. It’s evident to guess why: success stories of the mobile-first business like Snapchat, Uber, and Instagram remain a hot topic. But do they feel the difference or they just follow? Anyway, there’s no instant “yes-no” answer to whether it is better to use an app or a website. It fully depends on the way your users will use your service or product. But it’s easier to figure out what’s best for you by answering the questions below.
1.What is your budget?
Budgeting is a major topic for startuppers. And it’s the first question to ask yourself. If you’re lucky enough to get fundings from a VC firm, you have a choice. But if you have less than 20.000$ for spendings, you may close this article and begin to outline the requirements for your future website. Furthermore, 20.000 is just the minimum sum, it will actually cost you a lot more - check out the chart below for details. So if your budget is tight, it wouldn’t make sense to even start thinking about developing a mobile app.
(picture source - Clutch)
As a rule, mobile apps (especially native ones) are way more expensive. Are you sure it will bring a competitive advantage to your business? If the answer is positive, well, then it's worth every dollar invested, no joke. But don’t get me wrong - I don’t say that responsive websites are the cheap alternative. They can eventually become very costly and you might end up rewriting it (creating dedicated website for the mobile or native app).
2. What is your audience?
The answer lies in your understanding of your target audience. Think about your users and ask yourself: “Why would people download my app?” Your business has to give them a very good reason to do so. Just put yourself in their shoes: would you personally download an app just to have a new addition to the list of unused apps on your phone? Believe me, if your reason isn’t convincing enough, stop torturing yourself and go with a website. From the point of view of saving resources, web development is the most preferable option. After all, it’s not worth doing something (even something trendy) just because everybody else’s doing that.
Source: ameliorate corporate solutions
Remember that apps are targeted primarily at a loyal audience, which will agree not only to install but also to run the application on a regular basis. The website is visited by a large and diverse audience: loyal customers, potential customers, partners and so on.
3. What about user experience?
Quite often, native apps provide an amazing user experience on mobile that responsive websites cannot. Think about Facebook. Do you know they have a mobile website still running? Yes, they do. But who uses it anyway? Their app is way better and more convenient. Things like camera, gyroscope, and sensors will always work better with a native mobile app. Are these crucial for your app? If yes, you should consider building a native app then.
As Sunil Thomas, 3rd time entrepreneur with CleverTap explained: “For example, it’s a no-brainer for Uber to choose being an App vs. a website. Without GPS, smart use of a camera (used to take a picture of my credit card) and being in my hand all the time the Uber app we know and love wouldn’t be the same!”
Moreover, some apps can be used offline while websites can't. Think maps, dictionnaires, and city guides. Keep in mind that not everybody has the access to the Internet from everywhere. When your solution is targeted at users who aren’t online most of the time – then it’s much better to develop an app where the user can access the desired data whenever it’s needed.
4. What about your audience?
How large is your customer base? Generally, if you have a large returning customer base, the app is a great choice. If you don't, work on expanding it. Because “If you build it, they will come” is just a myth.
What kind of users is using your solution? What devices are they mostly accessing it with? Is it desktop during working hours or is it tablets in the evening while they are at home? It’s crucial to know your audience as well, so do some research. Use direct customer surveys to understand whether your users want to have a responsive website or a mobile app.
Nowadays, many businesses and startups want to develop a mobile app first for the reason mentioned in the first paragraph. However, your wise decision would be to keep in mind those questions above before starting to develop a mobile app or a responsive website.