App Vs Website - What Comes First?

Written by Sara Abdelaziz

Sara Abdel Aziz has a bachelor's in Computer Science and is currently working as a Senior Software Architect in KUWAITNET. Sara is a firm believer that you can never live up to your true potential unless you step out of your comfort zone.

What should you build first, a website or a mobile application?

It’s essential to choose the right platform for your idea, but its always costly to try and do both, especially when you are testing the technological waters.
The reality is that people set up the website first then venture into making a mobile app, but is this the best decision? Based on our experience in building websites, native, hybrid and cross-platform applications it all goes back to your idea, your audience and most importantly your budget.

What’s the Difference?

Both applications and websites are accessed via mobile devices such as a phone or tablet. Responsive websites are designed for different platforms and adjust to different screen sizes and layouts. Mobile applications, on the other hand, are applications that are downloaded and installed on a user’s mobile device. An app can pull content and data from the Internet, similar to a website, or it can download the content so that it can be accessed without an Internet connection.

To figure out what suits your idea better you should answer a few questions before deciding on which to build first.

#1 Does your user access your platform +5 times a day?

If your idea is such that the user needs to visit your platform a couple of times a day then, Mobile app is the way to go. It is way more convenient, faster to access, and keeps users up to date with notifications. Mobile apps run with their own interface environment which enables users to become more immersed in the mobile experience.

Things like different games, reminders, social media, alarm clocks, e-mails etc most of them are recommended to have as a mobile app. They are built with a purpose, address user pain points and make it easier for users to achieve a certain goal. If a mobile app delivers a great deal of value to a user, they will return frequently, forming a habit. This contributes to greater customer engagement, in turn, boosting conversion rates.

#2 Do you need to access features that are available mostly on a mobile phone?

Camera, Gyroscope, Sensors will always work better with a native mobile app. So, if one of these is crucial for your app then you should consider building an application and NOT a website. Websites are very limited when it comes to accessing a device’s features. websites can use some features of a mobile device like the camera, GPS, etc. However, there are many technological constraints in utilizing them.

The efficiency of a native mobile app’s processing is higher than a website’s. A native app can interface with the device’s features and hardware, such as the camera, GPS location, and provide users with instant notifications which increases their involvement.

#3 Will your user use the product offline?

When your solution attracts users who are offline-enthusiasts – then it’s much better to develop an app where the user can access the desired data whenever it’s needed. Mobile apps can run without internet connection. Although many apps require internet connectivity to perform most of their tasks, they can still offer content and functionality to users while in offline mode. With this advantage, users can access information anytime, anywhere.

For example
- Google Maps – Nowadays enabling users to download a map offline to use it with navigation.
- Dictionaries – Each time you visit a different country you can translate something without an internet connection.
- Tripadvisor – Enables you to download a city guide when you are traveling abroad, meaning you don’t need to google: the most visited places, best restaurants nearby, or even a map.

#4 Does your product involve GPS?

For example, if you plan to build an app for runners to track their route or a taxi app that orders transport to a specific place, the best possible experience you can achieve is with a mobile native app. In this case, a GPS feature is crucial for your business.
But saying that, it is possible to do the task with a web app – but it won’t be as fast and easily accessible as a simple mobile app.

#5 Will you be adding more features or updating your application often?

Is your idea not stable yet? Are you planning on changing many core features depending on your audience’s response? If yes, you should definitely go with a website first. Later on, you can invest in a mobile application once you have a stable and concrete understanding of how your platform will be.

The benefits for this are clear:
Only one platform is required to build in a new feature (imagine having to update Android, iOS, APIs and a website all separately…grim). No waiting time to see the update, so you don’t have to deploy the app to the app store (which usually takes 1-5 business days).

#6 Do others having similar business have a similar platform?

Will you have a competitive edge by focusing on mobile systems only? Being the first always has advantages (and disadvantages as well). You need to make sure that you have your place in the market and that you have an edge over your competitors. If everyone is focusing on websites, then it’s your chance to explore other platforms (as long as the idea is suitable for it) and try to establish a unique presence there.

#7 Does it include a Business Process?

If your system deals with keeping track of an inventory, managing employees, generating reports, or acts as a CRM for your business, then a website will be your best friend. These systems are usually heavy and involve providing multiple people access with different permissions to action and require multiple steps and lots of focus. Having a website with a proper thought out responsive design will be more feasible than going for a mobile application.

#8 What is your budget?

Websites can come in ready-made templates starting from design to the code, even building a whole new one from scratch sometimes is cheaper than developing a mobile application. Depending on complexity, a responsive website can be more cost-effective than mobile application development. This holds true if you want your idea to have a presence on more than one platform.

Having a small budget and a huge idea is not always ideal, therefore if your idea does not strictly require a mobile application to succeed, starting off with a website is always a more affordable option.

#9 Who is your target audience?

Different generations have different mindsets and even thou nearly everyone always has a phone in hand, not all of them search for things the same way. Websites have greater reach capability than mobile applications which need to be searched for in its respective application store. A website is accessible across multiple platforms and can be easily shared. Depending on your target audience you can always decide which will be more accessible.

When heading for mobile applications you can always have ONE web page that tells your users to download the application, to gain of all the searches happening on browsers.

So which should you choose first? App or Website?

As mobile use continues to grow worldwide, the “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish their online presence.

There are plenty of reasons for selecting either one of them so next time do it consciously. From the title App vs Website, it’s hard to pick a clear winner. Just make sure before setting off on your epic path to develop a mobile app or website; make sure you weigh up all the pros and cons first.

AndroidDevelopment, MobileApps, WebDesign, Website, iOSDevelopment,