“We need an app!”
Is what I hear when many business owners start talking about their online presence. This is the wrong way to think, don’t put the technology in front of your business objectives. Instead, think more like this:
“We need to be available to users when they are on the road”.
That sounds like a better thought out strategy.
There are several ways to reach your users when they are not at their main computer. One of these ways is through an app, another is a mobile-enabled web site. A mobile enabled website is simply your existing website with some extra programming to make it work better when viewed through a mobile device. There are many differences between apps and mobile sites, here are some of them:
Run natively on the device, can be faster than web sites
Lock the user into your experience, good for branding
Full access to the devices hardware, e.g. GPS, camera, accelerometer
Require the user to take the steps to install them from an ‘App Store’ or similar
Can be very expensive
Mobile Web Sites
Much cheaper than apps to develop
No installation required
Limited access to device hardware
Quite often when you sit down and go through your requirements, you’ll find a mobile website is more that adequate for your needs. Other times you will be requiring functionality that can only be provided by an app. Make sure you explore both sides of this decision, don’t be bullied by your developer to go down one or the other path because it is more favourable for them.