Mobile app vs web app. Which better fits your business?

Mobile app vs web app. Which better fits your business?

Natalia Figas
April 21, 2021  | 4 min read

Why does your business need clear decisions to develop a web or mobile app? Because the choice determines the success of your idea.

Thanks to mobile and web applications, you can easily achieve your business goals. Your sales can increase, you can deliver important messages, or you can become more competitive.

Mobile applications are a perfect fit for a business that must be available to their customers at all times. A business that needs to accompany their client or employees all the time, regardless of Internet access.

Web applications, in turn, better support a business that requires decision-making or analytical approach. And they only work when your user has Internet access.

Of course, there are more elements that may help to determine the best fit for your goals.

In this article, you will learn about:

  • web and mobile apps forms,
  • differences between them,
  • their pros and cons.

By the end of this article, you will be able to make a decision on what is the best solution for you.

So, let’s begin.

Two mobile and two web applications types

When developing mobile and web applications, we focus on achieving your business goals. Whether you prefer to have native, hybrid or online-only application, we help you to get there.

The initial question here is: what do your users prefer? If they use iOS only, you should provide them with a native app. But if they are split between a mobile device and a browser, you should go with a progressive web application (PWA).

Let us focus for a moment on different application forms.

Native mobile application

An example: Apple Wallet

Native mobile apps are fast, light and cooperate well with the native system and its components, such as communication protocols or sensors. They allow building advanced, pixel-perfect digital products.

Hybrid mobile application

An example: Parkanizer

Hybrid apps work on more than one operating system. They work best for displaying content because they are simple. It is also a good solution for developing the MVP version, when we need to quickly prepare prototypes of two versions of the system, and we need to cut costs.

With the newest technology (Flutter 2), we can ship native apps to five operating systems: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux; as well as web experiences targeting browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.

Web application

An example: Pix4D Fusion

A computer program that utilises web browsers and web technology to perform tasks is called a web application. It is independent of an operating system, but without access to the Internet, it will not work.

Progressive web application

An example: Twitter Lite

It is a combination of a web and a mobile application. In simple words, PWA is a mobile website that looks like a mobile application. User can pin it to the main screen of their mobile device and use even when offline.

With a piece of basic knowledge about your users’ preferences, you are able to intuitively choose what will better deliver value to your users: a web or a mobile solution.

Mobile apps - pros and cons

Do not dilute your energy on investing time and money into poorly made decisions. By discovering the pros and cons of each solution, you can make a more conscious decision about your business direction.

Pros of mobile apps

  • Speed

    Your users will not have to wait long in order to use an application because mobile apps are generally faster than web apps.

  • Native components

    Your users will “feel” the application because native apps work perfectly with the operating system’s components.

  • Work offline

    Mobile applications do not need Internet access to run, so you can achieve your business goals even offline.

  • Security

    In order to have a mobile app in an app store, the application must have security mechanisms.

  • Visible in the app store

    Once published, your application is easy to discover in the app store.

Now, what about a solution’s disadvantages?

Cons of mobile apps

  • Time to develop

    It is time-consuming to develop a mobile app.

  • Investment

    Mobile apps are generally more complicated to build than web apps, so you will pay more for them.

  • Manual processes

    To deliver patches and new features, you need to support several versions of the application at the same time. You are not able to release them simultaneously.

  • Limitations

    Native apps work with only one system. If you want to expand your business, you have to either develop a hybrid app or build a second native app.

As you can see, mobile apps are great, but as with every solution, they also have their disadvantages.

Web apps - pros and cons

Web applications are great for many reasons, as well as mobile apps. Below, we listed their four main advantages.

Pros of web apps

  • Free of installation

    Your application is always available in the browser. Users can bookmark it or - as in the PWA’s case, they can add a shortcut to the main screen of their mobile devices.

  • Free of updates

    Web applications update themselves automatically. No user intervention needed.

  • Independent from an operating system

    You will reach users regardless of their operating systems.

  • Fast development and deployment

    Compared to mobile apps, web apps are usually quicker and easier to build. In addition, they do not require app store approval, so they can be launched quickly.

There are not many web apps’ disadvantages, but still, you ought to consider them as well.

Cons of web apps

  • Works online only

    When your users are offline, they cannot use your web app.

  • Simpler

    Compared to mobile apps, web apps are much simpler in terms of features.

  • Additional marketing

    If you build an application that needs to attract new customers, you might need to consider an additional budget to promote it later.

When are mobile solutions a necessity?

In certain situations, native applications are essential to your business.

Firstly, when your business idea is based on using a specific devices’ sensors, e.g., accelerometer or Bluetooth communication protocol.

Secondly, when your users expect high performance. Native applications can be optimised for fast and smooth operation.

Thirdly, when you run your business on emerging markets and your users' smartphones are technologically weaker and low on memory, you need a lightweight, native application. Hybrid solutions are much heavier.

And finally, when you need a supporting application for older operating systems, native apps might be a must.

The summary

Whether you are going to build a web, native, hybrid or PWA app, it is important to define the goals first. Keeping your users top of mind will also help you to provide the most value and user satisfaction.

For ambitious, complex projects, a native application will usually be the best choice. Fast, high-quality solutions with customised features or advanced mobile hardware options make users feel satisfied and safe at the same time.

On the other hand, when you build a quick project, e.g., a multiplatform app for many users, a hybrid or PWA form will be better.

Hybrids and PWSa ensure a quick release and the right UX too. Also, when the business has to perform under the pressure of time and reasonable cost, they are a perfect fit. There are many variables to consider when choosing the form of the application. However, it is worth remembering that the choice determines the success of your idea.

Build your perfect application offers individual advice to achieve your business goals without unnecessary compromises. If you would like to discuss or consult a possible solution for your company, get in touch with us - no strings attached.

Read more about mobile app development here.