Wondering which one will be better for your business’s growth and online presence – web development or mobile app development? Considering the growing popularity of both these platforms and the global web & mobile app development market sizes, being in this dilemma is natural. The website development market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 8.03% [source], while the mobile app development market is experiencing growth at a CAGR of 13.9%. [Source].
Both mobile and web platforms have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Websites are more affordable & easy to develop compared to mobile applications and also provide a wider reach. However, to provide a more personalized and interactive experience for users, mobile apps are a better option. Nevertheless, the ultimate decision depends on your business needs, goals, target audience, and other factors. In this blog, we will help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of both platforms so that you can easily pick the right one for your business.
Pros & cons of developing websites & web apps for businesses
At present, around 71% of businesses have a website to promote their products or services and reach new customers. To make websites more accessible and convenient for use on mobile devices and tablets, businesses are shifting toward responsive web apps. They can be easily scaled up or down to meet the tailored requirements of businesses. However, to determine whether such web apps or websites can be useful for your business, it is crucial to consider their advantages and disadvantages.
- Wider reach
As websites and web apps are universally accessible via browsers without the need for installation, businesses can reach a wider audience.
- Easy to maintain and update
It is easier for businesses to make changes to their website and keep their users informed about the latest updates without prompting them for additional downloads or installations.
Unlike mobile app development, building and managing websites for diverse businesses is easier and less expensive. Even the cost of hiring web developers to build and maintain a responsive web application is significantly lesser than the price of designing separate mobile apps for different platforms.
- Cross-platform compatibility
Websites and web apps are by default cross-platform compatible. Their responsive design ensures they adapt to different screen sizes and devices, offering a consistent experience.
- Better search engine visibility
Compared to mobile apps, websites, and web apps are more easily discoverable through search engines, aiding in better searchability, organic traffic, and brand visibility for businesses.
- Limited offline access
The dependency of websites and web apps on internet connection limits their functionality when users are offline and can impact their performance.
- Limited personalized user experience for direct engagement
As websites offer very limited access to certain integral functions of a mobile device, such as camera and GPS, they don’t allow user interface personalization. As a result, direct customer engagement is less on a website as compared to a native mobile application.
Pros & cons of developing mobile apps for businesses
With the rising usage of mobile devices, the demand for mobile apps has also increased. But developing a mobile application for your business has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, such as:
- Enhanced user experience
Compared to websites and web apps, mobile applications have more responsive, faster, and intuitive user interfaces with advanced features and widgets. As mobile applications don’t have typical browser navigation, they offer a better user experience than web platforms.
- Better engagement
Higher user engagement is one of the biggest benefits of mobile applications. Leveraging advanced technologies such as AR & VR and device functions like QR code scanners, cameras, and GPS, businesses can engage more users with their brands through mobile applications.
Additionally, through push notifications and personalized messages, a mobile application can keep users informed about their business’s latest offerings, discounts, and other updates for better engagement.
- Offline functionality
Similar to web apps and websites, the internet is crucial to access the complete functionalities of mobile apps. However, there are certain features and content that can be accessed offline. For example, offline GPS navigation apps can work without the internet for features such as viewing maps, getting directions, and finding points of interest.
Compared to web apps and websites, mobile applications can better track user behavior by utilizing advanced analytics and reporting data. This data allows businesses to personalize content, recommendations, and notifications on the mobile app for better engagement and experience.
- High development & maintenance cost
The cost of designing and maintaining mobile applications is significantly higher than web development, as they need to be developed for specific platforms. Apart from platform specification, some other factors that affect the development cost are:
- Design complexity
- Technology stack
- Features, integrations, & customization required
- Hourly rates of hiring mobile app developers (based on their expertise & experience)
The average cost of mobile app development is between $100,000 to $500,000, while for web development, it ranges from $20,000 to $150,000+, depending on the project’s complexity.
- App store approval
To get published on app stores like Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store, mobile applications need to go through a long and time-consuming approval process. App store reviewers check mobile apps for content quality, data security, and compliance with app store policies. If your app doesn’t qualify on these parameters, it’s unlikely to be approved.
- Limited reach
Mobile apps are only available to users who have downloaded them from an app store. This means that businesses cannot simply publish their app on the internet and expect everyone to find it. They need to invest in marketing and promotion to get people to download their app from the app store. This makes user acquisition more difficult for mobile apps.
- Platform compatibility
Unlike websites and web apps, mobile applications don’t support cross-platform compatibility by default. It means the apps developed on Android might not work on iOS and vice versa. Developing mobile applications for multiple platforms (iOS, Android, etc.) requires additional effort, time, and resources with specific expertise.
How to decide which is better for your business: Mobile or Web?
Knowing the pros and cons of mobile and web is not going to be enough to make the right choice for your business. Here are a few factors you must consider along with that to pick the ideal platform for development.
- Business type & objective
What is the purpose of development? As a small business or startup, if your goal is to reach a wider audience with a limited budget, then a website is a better option. However, if your business requires mobile-specific features to engage customers, then a mobile app is a better choice.
For example, on-demand ride-hailing businesses like Ola and Uber or food delivery companies like Zomato and Swiggy rely on geolocation to provide their services. So, a mobile app is a must for them to track the location of drivers, riders, and food delivery partners.
On the other hand, service and education-based businesses, such as universities, training providers, hair stylists, plumbers, etc., can utilize websites or web apps to provide information about their services, book appointments, and accept payments.
- Target audience
Who are you trying to reach with your app or website? If your target audience is primarily mobile users, then developing a mobile application is a better choice. However, if they prefer using laptops or desktops, it is ideal to develop a responsive web app or website to reach them.
- App scalability
When choosing between mobile and web applications, app scalability is a crucial factor to consider. Compared to web apps, mobile applications can be more complex to scale according to the growing users and features for different platforms. Web apps are easier to scale because they can be changed on the server without having to make changes to the app itself.
- Development budget & time
Compared to mobile applications, websites, and web apps can be developed quickly, and that too on less budget. So, as a new or small business, if your requirements are basic and you have a limited development budget, it is better to go for a website or a web app. However, if you have a significantly large development budget and time, you may choose to develop both a website and mobile application to reach a wider audience and provide the best user experience.
Websites and mobile apps both require maintenance and updates, but the latter requires them more frequently. Fixing bugs, adding new information or features, and improving performance are simpler and less resource-intensive in websites and web applications than in mobile apps.
Both mobile and web platforms have their advantages and disadvantages for different businesses. Deciding which one is better for you depends on your business’s goals, budget, functionalities required, and target audience.
Hire mobile app developers for your business when:
- Your target audience is primarily on mobile devices
- Your business requires mobile device features to interact in real time with customers
- You have significant time and money to spare on development and maintenance
- You want to provide a personalized and immersive experience to your users
Choose a website or web app for your business when:
- Your target audience primarily uses desktops or laptops
- You want to capture a wider audience with native app functionalities
- You have limited resources and budget to spend on platform development and maintenance
- Your business doesn’t need offline functionality or custom features to engage with users
Bonus tip: If you are still unable to decide which one will be better according to the business’s requirements, it is better to consult a reputed web and app development company.
Author Bio: Amelia Swank is a senior web and app developer with over 8 years of experience. Currently with SunTec India, she specializes in the domain of digital solutions, specifically Laravel development, React.js development, eCommerce development. Her passion for technology fuels her writing, aimed at spreading insights to all. Amelia closely follows the latest IT advances to share her expertise with those interested in the field.