Is a mobile friendly website enough?
This question has been doing the rounds in recent years. Continual rise in mobile app usage is making businesses consider the possibility of launching their own app.
DIY app making solutions have further made the prospect of learning how to create an app less daunting than ever before.
This gradual movement towards creating mobile apps seems to confirm that mobile-friendly websites are not enough. However, the answer is not so simple.
There are many sides to this question. In some instances, it makes perfect sense to stick with mobile websites. It is better to switch over to mobile apps in other cases.
Our focus in this piece is on comparing both these prospects based on a number of relevant factors.
Factor #1: Development
Developing an app and a mobile-friendly WordPress website are two vastly different prospects. We will discuss both in great detail in the sections below.
For a long time, app development has been seen as a complex process. Companies have been known to spend many thousands of dollars to build an app.
The complexity of app development comes from the need to create an application for a wide variety of devices. Think of the number of smartphones in the market. Each comes with a different set of specs and performance standards. Creating an app which runs well on a wide range of devices is a great challenge.
The arrival of DIY app making solutions has changed the scene though. It is very simple to create premium apps with a mobile app builder now. This simplicity has helped make more businesses and entrepreneurs open to starting their own app.
Developing a Mobile-Friendly WordPress website
Creating a mobile-friendly WordPress website is very easy. Most WordPress websites in fact are highly responsive on mobile devices by default.
You can make certain design decisions to improve the overall setup of your mobile website. Choose a WordPress theme which works well with mobile devices. Also remember to enable AMP on your website in order to supercharge the loading speed of your mobile pages.
Factor #2: Cost
The following sections draw a contrast between the cost of developing an app and a mobile-friendly WordPress website.
Cost of Developing Mobile Apps
App development is known for being expensive. In fact, high costs are the biggest reason people steer clear of even trying to create a mobile app.
Why is app development expensive?
One of the previous sections points to the complicated nature of app development. Companies have to hire top notch engineering and design talent to overcome the challenges of custom app development. This level of talent naturally comes at a high price point.
The same thing happens when you go to hire a development agency. You’re quoted a high price because of the skill and knowledge it takes to create an app.
However, no code app making solutions have taken away the problem of high costs. You can simply use a free app maker to create an app as they are much more affordable.
Cost of developing mobile-friendly WordPress website
There is no great additional investment needed to develop a mobile-friendly WordPress website. You can spend money on buying a great mobile-friendly WordPress theme. Furthermore, you can always create custom mobile pages with AMP to streamline the resources you wish to display to mobile visitors.
You can have a mobile-friendly WordPress website at no additional cost besides what is needed to run the website.
Factor #3: Time
Creating a mobile app and a mobile-friendly website both involve a different timeframe. The following sections highlight the same.
App Development Timeline
The time it takes to create an app is naturally more given the general complexity of app development.
The problem of long turnaround time can be effectively bypassed with the help of no code app makers. These tools facilitate faster development because they don’t require traditional coding mechanisms.
Time Needed to Create Mobile-Friendly WordPress Website
It takes a small matter of time to create a mobile-friendly WordPress website.
In most cases, WordPress automatically creates a responsive mobile version without any direction from the user. You can further improve upon the default mobile version with better themes, menu design, and so on.
These changes do not take a long time to institute. Thus, it takes a very short period of time to create a mobile-friendly WordPress website.
Is a Mobile-Friendly Website Enough?
Let’s come back to the main question we’re discussing here. Is a mobile website enough?
In some cases, yes.
App builders have made app development easy. However, you still have to invest your own time and effort to promote the app. Just because making an app is easy now doesn’t mean you should jump head first any ways. Analyze your own website and make the right choice.
This can be better understood with an example. Let’s assume you start a new WordPress blog. You don’t have a notable base of readers who visit your blog every day. Like any new blog, you need time to find your audience and create a real base of readers.
In your case, a mobile-friendly website is enough. You do not need to create an app because your main efforts must be focused on enhancing your traffic. Starting an app would divert your attention and create another set of KPIs for you to analyze and ponder over.
Let’s take a different situation. Assume you have a WooCommerce store. You get a reasonable number of orders from the traffic you get. Is it wise to continue with a website alone in this case?
No, this is not wise in the case of a WooCommerce store. A mobile app can help you provide a better shopping experience to your customers. Delivering an app-like experience on a mobile website is nearly impossible. Developing an ecommerce app for your business is thus a wise decision.
The example here brings a fresh perspective to the subject of this piece. Like most things, the choice between mobile-friendly websites and apps is not a binary. This sets up the penultimate section perfectly.
Mobile-Friendly WordPress Sites and Apps – A Comparison
The following table sums up many of the points made in the piece.
|Factor||Mobile-friendly WordPress website||Mobile app|
|Development||Very easy to develop mobile-friendly websites thanks to responsive WordPress websites.||Development is very tedious with traditional app development. The complications have been reduced with the arrival of DIY app builders.|
|Cost||Little to no investment needed to create mobile-friendly websites besides the capital needed to set up a website||Cost of traditional development is very high. Working with mobile app builders is a much more viable way to create an app|
|Time||Setting up a mobile-friendly website takes little time. Most reliable WordPress themes are built to work responsively on mobile devices||Custom app development can take a lot of time. Mobile app builders however can enable users to create premium mobile apps within minutes|
|Performance||Mobile websites are built to load on mobile browsers, not devices. This causes them to lag behind apps in terms of pure performance.||Mobile apps perform well on mobile devices because they’re designed to operate in a mobile environment|
|Offline Access||Mobile websites cannot function without internet access simply because they’re built to operate on a browser||Can operate offline on some level as they draw many resources from the storage of a mobile app|
|User Personalization||Limited ability to personalize mobile experience due to lack of access to device features.||Greater ability to personalize experience as apps can leverage device resources with much greater ease|
|Marketing||Mobile websites are much more reliable from a marketing perspective as new users can access them directly with the click of a button||App marketing is more tedious because interested users have to first download the app and go through user onboarding until finally accessing its content and features.|
This is Not a Zero Sum Game
The choice between mobile-friendly websites and apps is not a zero sum game. Choosing one doesn’t mean you have to forego the other.
You would still need a mobile-friendly website after launching your mobile app. This is because the website can serve as a great platform to encourage people to download the app.
As an exercise, open the mobile website version of any popular social media app. You will inevitably come across a CTA that asks you to download the mobile app associated with the platform. Thus, major platforms continue to use their websites to funnel visitors to their mobile apps.
The interdependent nature of apps and websites points to the importance of both in the growth of your business.
This piece began with a fairly common question – are mobile-friendly WordPress websites enough?
A question like this naturally brings to light various factors regarding the development of mobile-friendly websites and apps. All relevant factors regarding the same are covered in this piece.
The latter sections further discuss examples where the choice between websites and apps intensifies. Both websites and apps are important for the success of any business. The piece tries to highlight the specific situations where it makes sense to move from website to app.