The answer to this question depends on a number of factors including your business plans and strategies, marketing goals, brand positioning and the availability of resources.
In this digital age, having an online presence in the form of a website, an application, through social media or all three is an expectation from your customers and potential customers that must be fulfilled. Otherwise, you could be losing the opportunity to increase your customer base translating to losses in terms of the possible number of transactions you can have per customer.
Mobile Website (Progressive Web App)/Responsive Website:
A point to note here is that this is slightly different from a responsive website design. In a responsive website design, HTML pages are linked together and can be viewed through browsers over the internet. These websites are designed to scale down to the screen of the device you are viewing the website through whether it be a mobile phone, tablet or a PC while a mobile website a.k.a progressive web application (PWA) works only on mobile phones.
Mobile Native Application:
Since building an application requires excessive research, time and cost not only during its development but even after its launch for support and maintenance, the following are reasons to which developing an application can be the right time for you:
Investing time and money in an application can be nerve-wrecking especially when choosing which platform to start with first (iOS or Android); a tip here is to initially build a responsive/mobile website with built-in analytics to see from which platform the volume of your traffic is the highest. You can then start developing an application for that platform first.
It is not about choosing one over the other or both; it is about choosing the right solution that will bring the highest return on investment (ROI) measured in terms unique to your own business and its goals. This choice is more about your business goals than the technical capabilities of each platform.
For example, if you are a startup company that wishes to create brand awareness amongst your target audience, the fastest way to reach them is through a responsive/mobile website. However, if your startup revolves around the personalisation of everyday user tasks such as ordering food or online shopping, a mobile application can provide better user experience than a responsive/mobile website.
The shelf-life of an application is much shorter if it is not ideally designed to meet user needs while websites cannot be deleted. Through marketing technologies, you can reach your customer base to attract them back to your website. If your goals are essentially marketing or public communication related, using a responsive/mobile website is a good outreach strategy.
A smarter, strategised approach (depending on your business goals) would be to invest in both website and mobile application, allowing users a sense of distinction between the purpose of each approach.
In conclusion, what you aim to achieve from your audience in alignment to your business goals should be the reason why you choose a website over an application, vice versa or both. Many companies opt to have a website for marketing purposes and reaching a wider audience while building an application to accommodate specific requirements.
The truth is that you need both a website and an application to keep your customers engaged and coming back to you. What matters is what you are choosing to develop first according to the stage your business is in. You cannot ignore one platform over the other as it becomes a value added for your business. Instagram, for example, chose to build an application first and then released a responsive website.
The goals of a business should eventually narrow down to one thing: how are we a solution to our customer’s problems? You may have a product/service at hand but your customers do not know it due to your absence on the largest marketing platform: the internet.
The correct use of either website and/or application means to understand who will be accessing and using these platforms and if there is a problem existing at hand. Are these users your customers, your employees or your shareholders? What are the barriers between your organisation and them, and what problems are they facing to which you can provide solutions through a website and/or application?
If you are in the process of creating a mobile strategy, let us help you make informed decisions to meet your organisational needs.
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