Bop Design Illustrates the Difference Between a Mobile Website and an App for Small Business Marketing

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There have been numerous questions among the small business community about the difference between a mobile website and a mobile app. Bop Design, a San Diego website design agency, is asked this question daily. Are they the same thing? These are common questions in this new age of the smart phone and tablet. Fortunately Bop Design has released an outline of the differences specifically for small business marketing. Bop Design web developer, Jordan Paraso, comments, "If a marketing director is not technically keen on the subject, confusion between the two is inevitable as they are similar and yet very different." The web design firm has outlined the primary differences between a mobile website and app, specifically relating to small business.

Mobile Web Design

Mobile Website vs. App

If a marketing director is not technically keen on the subject, confusion between the two is inevitable as they are similar and yet very different.

There have been numerous questions among the small business community about the difference between a mobile website and a mobile app? Bop Design, a San Diego website design agency, is asked this question daily. Are they the same thing? These are common questions in this new age of the smart phone and tablet. Fortunately Bop Design has released an outline of the differences specifically for small business marketing. Bop Design web developer, Jordan Paraso, comments, "If a marketing director is not technically keen on the subject, confusion between the two is inevitable as they are similar and yet very different." The web design firm has outlined the primary differences between a mobile website and app, specifically relating to small business.

The Main Differences

A mobile website is a specialized version of a firm's current website that is optimized for a smart phone or mobile device. Since a smart phone has a smaller screen and is touch-based, a version designed specifically for mobile devices will give a user a much better browsing experience. Mobile websites can be accessed on multiple mobile platforms (such as iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) because only a web browser is required to access the mobile website.

A mobile app is a software application that is downloaded (from the App Store or Android Market) and installed on a mobile device. Paraso comments, "A mobile app can be anything from a calendar, a video game, an online bank account manager and even a website. Mobile apps have to be written specifically for a mobile device platform. For example, an iPhone mobile app will not work on an Android phone and vice versa."

Which one does a business need? Does a firm need both?

With smart phones becoming more affordable, wireless speeds getting faster and more customers browsing on mobile, businesses with an alternative mobile website is going to be the norm. The main reason is because of usability and speed. Normal websites are designed for use with larger screens and a mouse/keyboard. They are also created with faster Internet connections in mind. Paraso discusses the differences with mobile, "Mobile websites take advantage of the smaller screen and touch-based nature of the device, which makes navigation and browsing much easier and faster. They also require the file sizes of the images and other website content to be smaller for faster downloads."

However some business websites might have special client tools that may make more sense as a mobile app or might only work as a mobile app. Types of websites such as an e-commerce website or bank website are good examples. Paraso cites Chase Bank as an excellent example (m.chase.com). "A customer can log into their account online using Chase's mobile website or they can download the Chase mobile app. Are both really necessary? In this case I would say yes." Paraso tried accessing his bank account using both methods and here are the results from his quick test:

Mobile Website:

Pros: Accessible through any web browser on any mobile device, don’t need to download/install anything
Cons: Slower, less responsive. Have to use web browser to navigate there first (or use bookmarks). Can’t use built-in camera to take pictures for deposits.

Mobile App:

Pros: If used frequently, much easier and faster to use, requires single tap to access (after installed). More responsive because of native device code. Takes advantage of built in camera to make deposits.
Cons: Must download and install first. App must be written and approved for specific device(s).

"The only real downside to using the mobile app is that you have to download it and install it first. After that part is completed though, the mobile app is much faster and more responsive than its mobile website counterpart. So if a customer is frequently managing their account online, using the mobile app makes total sense. The main advantage of using the mobile website is that you could quickly check a bank account on any mobile device without the need to install anything. For example, someone needs to make an online payment on their friend’s phone because their phone battery is dead. Since their friend has a different bank and doesn’t want to install anything new on their phone, using the mobile website to make the payment is the best and only option." Bop Design advises small businesses to create mobile apps only if there is a specific tool or task that is always performed on their website. This way it is easy for a client to perform this task quickly in a remote location.

A major factor for any business is the cost to develop. Mobile app development costs considerably more and takes longer than mobile website development. Mobile apps are only compatible with the platform that it was created for. If a business wants an app to work on an iPhone, Android and Blackberry, three different apps will need to be developed. With a mobile website, a single version will work across all mobile platforms.

Summary

Most small business websites will be fine with just having an alternative mobile version of the website. If the website is constantly used as a utility by clients partners or employees, having a mobile app can be highly beneficial. It all depends on the amount of usage of a particular area of the website. For example, there could be a part of the website where users can book and make appointments. With web analytics, a business can determine the areas of a website that attract the most traffic. Creating a separate mobile app specifically for booking and making appointments would be a viable alternative for your users as it will most likely get downloaded and used.

About Bop Design, San Diego Website Design
Bop Design is a boutique marketing communications firm headquartered in San Diego with offices also in New Jersey. We express a business' values through web design, branding, advertising and print design. The marketing agency also helps attract a firm's ideal customer through search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Bop Design's focus is on small businesses that want an external team of marketing specialists to help give their brand an edge in the marketplace.

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Jeremy Durant
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