You may have noticed that when it comes to accessing the Internet, more and more people are using mobile devices. That’s leading to change in the way websites are designed and in the way commerce is conducted. Mobile commerce, for example, is taking off. According to this forecast, 25 percent of U.S. online sales will be done over mobile devices by 2017.
So, does that mean that your business should launch a mobile app, or is a responsive website all you really need?
Both mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites (another buzzword for mobile-friendly is responsive) can be accessed from handheld, portable devices like tablets and smartphones. Mobile websites have HTML pages, just like any other website, that on mobile devices are accessed over WiFI, 3G or 4G networks. But unlike a typical website, a mobile-friendly website can access mobile-specific features like click-to-call phone number displays, location-based mapping, and they are designed to be seen on a smaller screen.
An app is a specific application that users download from an app store, like Windows, Apple, or Android. Once users install it on a mobile device, they interact with the app, instead of going through a browser.
Which one – a mobile-friendly site or a mobile app – your business should invest in depends on the type of business and your goals. Generally, mobile apps are an investment your business won’t need to make, unless you want interactive engagement with users or you want to provide specific functions that a website can’t offer.
A mobile ecommerce app might make sense for online retailers, especially alongside a mobile-friendly website, although even in this case it would be important to look at who your customers are and what platforms they use. Likewise, for businesses that require account management and logins, an app would make sense.
If your business is done mostly in person or over the phone, an app probably isn’t an investment you need to make – although you should invest in making your website mobile-friendly. Consider that mobile websites can be found easily, are instantly available, are customizable, and are compatible across all devices.
Either way, a mobile-friendly website is a good investment to make, whether you plan to follow it up with an accompanying app or not.