Article in User Manual category.

Mobile Websites vs Mobile Apps? Which Way to Go

When considering cost versus efficacy, you might have to make a choice between a mobile website or a mobile app. Read this user guide to…

Content mobility and web presence are now as crucial to a business as a brick-and-mortar storefront once was. Through websites and mobile applications, merchants and service providers are able to reach clients and customers all over the world in a matter of keystrokes; but when starting out and considering cost versus efficacy, you might be forced to make the choice between having a mobile-optimized website site or a fully functioning mobile application.


There are many websites that have opted to forego an app but have created a mobile version of their website. For example, Dribble, a popular design website, has an interactive and easy-to-use mobile website but does not have an app. Then there are other industries that have chosen mobile web development instead of apps. Deadspin, a humorous sports news website, maintains a mobile site but does not have an app. Granted, Deadspin does not have the audience size of ESPN, but they are one of the most popular, independent, sporting news websites; their decision to not create an app is telling. The field of mobile is highly customizable and often companies have to decide which approach is best for them. Many major brands, like ESPN, IGN, and Fandango, opt to create both an app and a mobile website in order to reach all of their followers.

Application development tends to be a bit more expensive than formatting a website for mobile viewing, but an app also allows for more functionality and depth of content. Domino’s Pizza created an app that allows its users to choose coupons, craft and order their pizza, and track the delivery all in a game-like fashion. Due to the high-quality images, they use, and the interactive features, their content wouldn’t have the same impact on a mobile site, since mobile web has its limitations.

Other great examples of successful food apps are Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. Starbucks’ effective mobile presence allows them to be a consistent top-2 app in Apple’s “Food & Drink” category. Although Dunkin’ Donuts does not have the biggest social media following, its app provides customers with a great user experience. In the overall rankings, both are consistently in the top 100 of free apps on the App Store. Both apps provide an in-depth discovery experience when the customer is in-store, as opposed to the simplicity of features brought to the table with a mobile website.

Mobile websites are often limited to only displaying the restaurant’s location, the menu, and a few small images. With an app, your experience is expanded to ordering capability, higher-quality images, and a broader scope of the restaurant’s menu.


A good rule of thumb is that your full site should always translate, at least functionally, to a mobile screen by design. When considering the investment of a standalone mobile web presence or app, start with who your user is, when they’re typically visiting your site and what exactly they’re looking for. Keep these in mind and your answer will present itself.

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