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Mobile Sites Vs. Mobile Apps: Which Is Best For Your Business?


Remember that wonderful moment when your business website went live for the first time? Or a customer made the first purchase from your online store? Now that you have taken that glorious stroll down memory lane, it is time to face the fact that your standard website is no longer enough to reach today’s mobile consumer.

eMarketer projects that the number of U.S. smartphone users will increase from 90.1 million in 2011 to 148.6 million in 2015, represent 46% of the total U.S. population. But you did not need eMarketer to tell you that to know more people are getting smartphones these days. You see the proof everyday on the train, in restaurants, and on the way to work. What you see is the eyes of people glued to cell phones and iPads. Their thumbs are scrolling furiously as they search for information about places to eat, shop, rest, stay, and play. They are standing in lines overnight for the latest version of Apple’s iPad, because trend now is to access information on the go, not at a bulky desktop or laptop computer. If your business does not have a website optimized for mobile devices, you can rest assured that you are missing out on conversions.

Your current and potential customers are increasingly avoiding traditional marketing channels to escape the noise. This means your advertising dollars may or may not be bringing the return you hope for. But money spent on developing your business site is ALWAYS money well spent. Before you start wondering about prices, let’s talk more about what type of mobile web presence would work best for your business – a mobile site or mobile application. First and foremost, you should know what the difference between the two options.

Know the Difference

Many people make the mistake of thinking mobile sites and applications are one in the same. Although they can have similarities, they are actually very different platforms.

Mobile Sites deliver a fast, efficient and browser-based experience for users. The content usually appears in a list form although more sophisticated designs are possible. Mobile sites are also easy for consumers to access from any device because the features adjust to the type of device it’s displayed on. Sites also automatically recognize that a mobile device is trying to access it and displays the optimized site instead of the standard version. Smart technology. 

Adversely, Mobile Applications are not readily available to the public, because they are trapped inside an app store. Consumers have to log into the app store and download the app to access the information inside. Apps are growing at a slower pace than websites, as well. Apps also tend to cost more to develop than mobile sites and cost more money to maintenance. Imagine that apps are BMW’s and mobile sites are Honda’s. Honda is dependable, ranges from economy to semi-luxurious, and costs less to maintain and repair. But that BMW, let’s just say your oil changes are around $100.00.

Another interesting fact about apps is that you have to develop different apps for different devices, unlike mobile sites, which are universally accessible. Get where we are going with this blog?

If you have yet to read enough to make an informed decision for your business, take a few seconds to think about the apps you downloaded in the past year. Think about how frequently you accessed those apps as opposed to going to your web browser. Think about glitches, load times, and the frustration you felt. Chances are, your customers customers share your feelings. However, marketing theoris should not be made based on feelings along. It is a better practice to base theories off research, so here is what we found.

Why Mobile Sites Matter

Comscore’s November 2010 report on mobile content usage shows only a small difference between browser usage compared to downloaded apps. Comscore’s findings only cover a span of three months, so it is unknown how results from a more longitudinal look like. gave us more insight into customer behavior and expectations when it comes to mobile sites.

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We can talk about the benefits of mobile sites for days, but what is important for you to know is that sites are a good starting point for any business looking to optimize the customer mobile web experience. If you want to graduate to a robust mobile application later on, fine. Anything done well and for the right audience will be successful, but we cannot promise you people will actually take the time to download and reload it each time. You have to ask yourself, can you do the mobile app WELL and is it RIGHT for your customer base, products and services? Or is a less costly, faster loading, easily accessible mobile site a better fit? If you have questions or comments, we would love to help you decide which is better for your business. 



Ron, thank you for a well done article with several good resources. You got my ****'s!
Posted @ Thursday, January 12, 2012 2:33 PM by Chester Butler
Nice information. Thanks for sharing..... 
Posted @ Friday, August 29, 2014 12:40 PM by Magentocommerce - Magento Commerce
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