Mobile Websites vs Mobile Apps. Which one should you invest in?

This mobile ain't big enough for the two of us? Like brothers, you don't have to have a favourite, you can just choose who you'll go to the party with and who is a great study partner.

Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, YouTube, Linked in, Wikipedia... all examples of websites gone app! We know apps are cool. They are now more a part of our lives, more than even our home phones. Apps and smartphones were always meant to be. No need to pinch to zoom in and out, or vainly search for must have content on your web browser.

Does this mean we focus energy into mobile app design? OK, just ask yourself the following questions: How often have you used the search feature of your smartphone? Your most likely answer - when looking for a website! This is normal smartphone behaviour. Studies consistently show that most people use smartphone browsers to initially search for information on a product, company, person, information - basically anything stored on a website of some sort! Only after they have accessed that content will they start thinking if they are ready to engage with the content on a regular basis. That's where apps add clear value.

The first thing to ask - app or no app, is my current website optimised for mobile? If not, there is a risk that a visitor leaves without the positive impact your content is meant to deliver, after all that pinching and zooming.

Mobile apps


  • Content is delivered to them in the way that the user wishes to see it
  • Gives you full control in this relationship and the environment
  • Focused interaction with your audience is available online and offline


  • Will have to create a separate app in different technologies
  • Higher Cost (development and marketing)
  • Time to market depends on external distributors
  • Launch and updates are dependent on Google and Apple app stores cycles

Dedicated mobile website


  • Will cover all smartphones and anyone with a browser-enabled device
  • More cost effective to develop
  • Easier to launch and continually update
  • Time to market is only dependent on your business


  • Site design limited depending on browser capabilities
  • Content is only available when users are online
  • Users can get distracted with other content available to them

Before defining the next stage of your digital strategy, some important questions to ask are:

  • What is your core objective? Do you want to inform or engage with your audience?
  • Do you want your content accessible across all smartphone devices?
  • Do you have a long term commitment to offer fresh content on a regular basis?
  • Do you have a marketing plan (and budget) in place?
  • Is time to market a driving force?

Our conclusion

The mobile web is growing and its toolset (with maturity of HTML5) is getting stronger which helps developers accomplish many tasks that were once only available to app developers. If cost is a major factor, the mobile web is less expensive to build and maintain and it offers wider reach to your target audience across all modern devices. If, however, budget and time is no issue... sure, nothing beats the interactive nature of the app... but is it worth the price? That depends on your individual needs.

Infographic about mobile apps vs mobile websites