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Weighing the Differences Between Having a Mobile App, a Mobile Website and a Mobile Responsive Website

Weighing the Differences Between Having a Mobile App, a Mobile Website and a Mobile Responsive Website
Weighing the Differences Between Having a Mobile App, a Mobile Website and a Mobile Responsive Website

With the popularity of the tablet, the iPad and mobile phones becoming more and more powerful, the opportunity for a business to stay in front of their customer is greater than ever.  

But as with any new technology, there is a learning curve involved for business owners and creative entrepreneurs.   Terms like HTML5, responsive and app still get me blank stares from people so in this article I’m going to break down the differences between having an mobile, having a mobile website and having a mobile responsive website..  


In case you do not have time to read this whole post here is a quick breakdown of three key terms:

Mobile app: 
  • Interactive programs that are stored on the mobile device.  
  • Some examples are game apps (Angry Birds), productivity apps (Evernote), music streaming apps (Spotify), social media apps (Instagram), loyalty apps (Starbucks) among money others.  
  • You can find apps in Google Play or the iTunes app store.
Mobile website/Web app
  • Websites created with HTML5 that look like apps.  
  • They take up the full screen like a mobile app would.  
  • Slower to load than a mobile app.
Mobile responsive website: 
  • A website with a layout that ‘responds’ (changes) with the size of the screen or browser.  
  • Generally at full size the website will look normal but as you make the browser window smaller the layout will resemble more of a web app.  
  • Creates a great experience across all devices, therefore it eliminates the need for a mobile web app.

I like to simplify it like this:

[Tweet “Most websites are purely information.  A mobile app provides an experience. – @Alavon365”]


Why have a mobile website?

Unlike apps, mobile websites are hosted on a web server, just like a regular website.  They are made with the HTML5 coding language and therefor will take up the full screen like a native app would.  This helps for easy ‘finger’ navigation on smaller devices.  
They are generally not as complex as full websites and a lot of the website data is stored (or cached) on the browser so that they will load faster.  
Apps however, are downloaded and stored on to the mobile device so the experience is a lot faster than a mobile app or website would.  
Want to test this out?  Try opening your browser and logging in to Facebook and you’ll notice the significant difference between clicking around the website and using the Facebook app.

So what’s the point of having a mobile website?  Mobile websites will show up on google searches from a mobile phone, which is where most searches occur when a customer is ready to take action.  As a matter of fact, Google just a few months ago announced that they’ve started penalizing websites that don’t look great on mobile devices in search rankings.  
So you can have a very nice looking website but if it doesn’t ‘respond’ to the screen size of a mobile phone or tablet, people will not be able to find you.  Getting a responsive website redesign can be costly so the more cost effective option for you would be to create a mobile website version of it that redirects mobile traffic from the main website.  (We can do that for you at Alavon Bay).  


And what’s so great about having a mobile app?

The biggest difference to remember when it come to mobile apps is the native functionality. Because the app is stored on the device, you can allow it to have access to features and information stored on your phone.  
Some apps need the use of a camera to work and some, like the Facebook app, will store login information so that it can run in the background.  
This way when there is an update or a message from the app, the mobile user is notified real time!   These are called Push Notifications and for the customer they have proven to be very convenient.  For the business owner push notifications have proven to be very powerful asset. This means that you communicate with your customers at any time (with a 97% open rate!)You will not be able to send deals to potential clients/customers’ phones when they drive or walk past your place of business with a web app or a website.


There are benefits to having a mobile app, a mobile responsive website and website.  In the mobile age going forward, having a responsive website and a mobile app are a must if you want to dominate your space.  Also if you have a website already that is not responsive, a mobile website and an app to compliment it would give you the same mobile edge.  You actually get a free mobile website with Alavon Bay when you develop a mobile app with us.
Did this article clarify the difference between the three?  Are you still confused?  Feel free to let me know in the comments below.


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Bryan McNeil-Walker

Bryan "Don Suave '" McNeil-Walker is a marketing strategist and music producer. Through his digital marketing agency Alavon365, Bryan has generated over a million dollars in revenue for his small business clients. Coming from a musical family, (his father was lead saxophone player for Rock and Roll pioneer Little Richard) Bryan has always had a rare talent for making music. Along his journey he found that artists like him who have a disdain for the music industry have to master marketing as a necessity. His passion has lead to falling in love with marketing and coming up with the S.A.M. Method; a digital marketing framework that any creative entrepreneur or business owner can use to grow their business. Bryan is also co-founder of Uncord Technologies which has built an order ahead app for food trucks.