By Adam Sinicki
If you run a business, then it’s crucial that you ensure your customers can find you via their mobile devices. It’s now common knowledge that over half of all internet traffic is coming from mobile at any given time and Google says it has been getting more searches via mobile for a while now too. This only looks set to continue going forward; so if the experience you’re offering for mobile users is a poor one, you’re going to lose a big proportion of your traffic.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean every business should build a mobile app. The other option is to focus on a website that will be highly optimized for mobile; which may actually be the smarter choice in some cases. As ever, the correct decision comes down to the nature of the business, its user base and its resources.
Let’s take a look at the slightly different roles of mobile apps and websites and how businesses should proceed…
In many ways, a mobile site and a dedicated app might do pretty much the same thing. Both will probably convey information about a business and either can allow users to place orders from their phones.
However, there are subtle nuances in the way each functions that creators need to consider. For example, a website can’t be installed meaning it won’t ever quite be as quick and easy for a user to load up. If you want to order pizza, then having an app for your local takeout means that order is just a tap away and because all the graphics and text are saved on the phone, there’s no delay while things load.
A website can’t be installed meaning it won’t ever quite be as quick and easy for a user to load up
Apps that are custom-built for mobile devices, are likely to be more reliable and less prone to crashing or freezing up mid-purchase and will generally have a better UX and UI. This also means the app can potentially take advantage of more native features of the phone – such as GPS, in-app purchases or SMS. It’s also more secure, meaning that users won’t have to log in every time they want access (or that they can use a fingerprint to do so!).
Uber is an app that has practically revolutionized the way you order taxis in London…
All this can mean you’re more likely to order pizza from the company that has the app, versus the one that doesn’t. The same goes for ordering a cab, checking your bank balance, or shopping online…
That said though, some mobile sites are incredibly well made to the point where the experience is very similar to using an app. The best mobile sites feature nice, big, touch-friendly buttons, intuitive menus and attractive animations. Websites often still take advantage of things like click-to-call and GPS too and some scenarios may not call for mobile-specific features anyway. For big purchases, or heavy reading, users might prefer to sit down at a desk and read on a larger screen. In this scenario, an app might not be able to bring that much extra to the table and may not be the best use of time for a company to develop.
This is a pizza website I used with friends recently that’s actually very good and easy to use on mobile…
Just don’t underestimate the value of saving a couple of seconds for your visitors – even typing an address into a browser can be enough to put users off visiting a site. It is possible to save website shortcuts as homepage icons but it’s not something you see people doing often…
I know that I personally tend to choose the Android Authority app over loading it in the browser and the same goes for IGN. It’s just easier. I probably check them both more often than I would as a result.
But then again, there’s always Feedly for that…
The way you market an app is somewhat different from the way you market a website. Most notably, you can’t use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to point users to a particular ‘page’ in an app. If you have an e-commerce store on a website for instance, then you can use some savvy search optimization to ensure that visitors are able to find specific items in that store through Google. If someone searches for ‘buy hats online’, they can get taken straight to a company’s selection of hats ready to click ‘buy’. No installation necessary.
This isn’t possible with an app. Or at least it isn’t right now. It’s actually something Google is looking to fix in the near future though with Android N’s ‘Instant Apps‘ features. This addition will make apps more instant (hence the name) by removing the need to download them first. What’s more, is that users will be able to jump straight to specific sections within an app – such as the ‘buy hats’ page – via ‘deep links’.
If someone searches for ‘buy hats online’, they can get taken straight to a company’s selection of hats ready to click ‘buy’. No installation necessary.
Right now, we don’t know exactly how this is going to work; will users be able to access these deep links via Google search? Or will they need to use the Play Store? (I’d be willing to bet the former is an …read more
Source:: android authority