Having the proper website has been the standard of almost every business for a couple of decades now, and it’s no surprise that there are over half a million new sites published every day!
However, we live in the age of smartphones and tablets, which begs an important question: are apps better than websites? Well, they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
It depends on the circumstances if you should build an app or website. Let’s talk about some of them!
When An App Is Better
A mobile app is a great choice in many circumstances and there’s no harm in adding it to your business if it fits your budget. In most cases, the best time to build an app is when you already have a website since websites are usually the first thing you make as a business.
However, there are plenty of circumstances where it would be appropriate to build an app first if you’re building a startup. Here are a few of them.
An App-Centric Business Model
If your desire with your website is going to be getting people to download your app, then, by all means, develop the app first. If this is where you expect the majority of your revenue to come from, then this is where you should spend your focus.
There are cases where it’s hard to tell at the beginning where your business will be excelling. In the case of an eCommerce store, you could imagine sales being made almost equally on a website or an app once the business is established. It will then come down to how you plan to develop that traffic early on.
If you think you’ll have an easier time with app store optimization (ASO) than with search engine optimization (SEO), and you think it’s better to invest in app store search ads than Google’s, then this is a case where an app is more appropriate.
There are plenty of ways that apps can make money, even free apps can take in millions every year. Even if your business model doesn’t rely on this, it won’t hurt to add it!
Most companies need a website and maybe want an app. However, this isn’t always the case. If you’re looking for mobile friendliness, it doesn’t get better than a well-designed mobile app. Sure, websites can be designed for mobile devices but the user will have to open their browser and head to that website every time.
An app offers a lot more convenience in situations where they’ll need something from your business more frequently. 56% of web traffic is on mobile devices, so focusing on mobile friendliness is important.
Need an example? If you run a gym, it makes more sense to have an app than a website if you could only choose one. Why? People can open the app, register for a class in 2 clicks, walk up to the door, scan their keycard, track their workout, and look back at their progress from their entire membership in one convenient place.
If that were on a website, they would have to open their browser, search, login, and maybe wait for everything to load before even being able to begin that process.
The ability to personalize an app cuts out several steps for your customers to take every time they want to interact with your digital presence. That’s one of the best advantages of a mobile app, so if that convenience is a priority to your business, apps have the edge.
Sending notifications is another huge advantage. A website offers you the ability to send email campaigns to those who sign up, but a notification allows your customers to click on what you’re offering them and instantly be directed to a one-stop shop. Unlike emails, it’s all instant.
You’ll even have a better variety to choose from as well. There are push notifications, the ones you get off the app, and in-app notifications.
A website can send notifications, but these tend to be less effective. The prompt shows up in the corner of the browser and is easier to ignore, and people are more used to receiving phone notifications than anything else.
You can design your app to perform various functions entirely offline. If your customer is on a plane, in the middle of nowhere, or they just can’t connect to the internet, they’ll still be able to perform tasks on your app.
They might have specific data saved on the app, they may be able to scroll through a downloaded menu, play a game, or more. This is a huge advantage over websites.
With the ability to run apps offline and a lot of the mobile-specific features within an app, apps tend to be faster on a phone or tablet than on a website. If you care about speed, which you should, then apps have the advantage here. The average mobile phone user will exit a web page after only 3 seconds if it hasn’t loaded, so taking any advantages you can get on speed is a good choice!
Will your app require things like GPS, location services, or things like Apple or Google Pay? Well, an app will be the winner if that’s the case. There are alternative uses you can have for a website, but for user-friendliness and navigation, a web browser comes up short.
Anybody can make a website. However, a user-friendly app that people don’t struggle with every time they open is an elite group of businesses. This adds huge appeal to your business and can help improve brand recognition and loyalty, giving you the benefit of long-term, repeat customers.
People Prefer Apps
Mobile phone and tablet users spend a lot more time in their apps than they do on their mobile web browsers. So much that the average US adult spends up to 90% of their time on their mobile devices in apps.
With an app, you have a unique opportunity to display your visual brand, provide an inviting space for your customers to interact with your business, and keep them engaged and entertained. You’ll also be able to provide a constant reminder to the customers of your business with your logo sitting freshly on their homepage or application folder.
When A Website Is Better
Websites undoubtedly have massive advantages in certain regards, which is why they are the go-to for most businesses upon starting. Your website acts as your home base for your entire digital marketing strategy and overall online presence, in most cases.
However, a website needs to be user-friendly, especially on a mobile device, to be effective. That means sparing no expense and working to deliver the best product to your customers. When people search the internet, they’re most often on sites like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and others that have extensive resources for making their sites near perfect. No matter the size of your business, this has become the standard among consumers, more or less.
Search Engine Optimization
As we mentioned, SEO is important for a website but it comes with an added benefit. App store optimization is specific to your app but SEO can help with both. Getting a headstart by building a website and a blog to help rank more highly on Google will ultimately help you with app downloads in the future.
When people search “best business planner” on Google, they could be directed to your website where you can prompt them to download your business planner app. This offers an immediate advantage for both apps and websites alike.
If you’re looking to reach the widest audience possible, you are limiting yourself when you stick to a mobile app. We mentioned that 56% of web traffic is on mobile devices. Well, there’s 44% out there that you’re not reaching without a website, along with the percentage who don’t want to download an app.
A website, especially a mobile-friendly website, will give you the widest target audience possible for your business.
Whether you realize it or not, you expect to be brought to a specific landing page on a website when you click on an ad. If you click on an ad and you’re brought to the app store unexpectedly, that’s a big hurdle for conversion.
Maybe I saw the ad on LTE and I need WiFi to download the app. Maybe I was expecting a website and don’t want to wait for an app to download. Maybe my homepage is filled and I don’t want to add a new one right now because all the pages stress me out.
There are many reasons why ads leading to an app could hinder your conversions. Having a website with the proper landing page, even if the desired conversion is to download your app, will ultimately lead to better conversion rates.
Social Media Conversions
Your bio on your social media platforms, if done correctly, probably has a quick bio like “Local pet store in Lansing, MI” followed by what? Probably a link, right? It could be your contact information or other social media platform, but it should be your website. This is where everybody you’re trying to direct somewhere should be led to. Linking directly to the app store will seem out of place.
Again, even if your desired conversion is downloading an app, you can link to that within your website. Make your website your home base for your entire marketing campaign outside of app store ads or ASO.
One of the biggest reasons companies will start with a website is that it is cheaper to do so. There are more skilled web developers around than there are app developers, and the rates are pretty affordable for the quality you can get.
Apps have so many advantages for so many businesses, so the cost will be ultimately worth it, but you could easily be spending over $10,000 on the initial app development. If you can’t find that in your budget, a website is probably best to start with.
Should I Build An App Or Website?
Let’s make it clear. Both tools are important and businesses should be using them in any capacity they can to help expand their company. The only reason you should be considering the choice between one or the other is your budget. However, you should be strongly considering adopting both of them down the road.
Not only do they each come with their long lists of advantages, but they also help each other grow. Regular users of an app will undoubtedly use a computer every once in a while, so offering an alternative service is appropriate. Likewise, website users may want an easier alternative for their mobile devices.
It fully depends on your company’s budget, what it requires, and the products or services you are selling.
In a nutshell, an app takes the cake when it comes to user-friendliness on mobile devices, speed, offline capabilities, notifications, and data storage. If that’s what you need, then build an app!
However, a website is better for the price, the overall health of your digital marketing campaigns, and reaching the widest audience possible. It can also help you acquire acquisitions of your app once it’s up and running! Consider those factors before making your decision, and consider using both for your business!
Build What’s Right For You
When you’re looking into building one of these platforms for your business, there are so many reasons to choose both. If you can afford the cost for both, spare no expense. They both have so much to offer. Just get to work designing the right app or website, keep up to date with our latest news, and contact us for any help you need on development!