Mobile apps or responsive websites ?

Mobile apps or responsive websites

Here at Matrix, we often get a familiar request from clients – “I need a mobile app ?”  We generally don’t like to pour cold water on any client’s enthusiasm for web projects. After all, we spent our formative years trying to convince businesses that the internet was not a “big fad” that was going to disappear within 5 years. Business fads come and go, and some of our younger staff members develop puzzled expressions when the conversation turns to fax machines, floppy discs, drive-in banks, and Filofaxes! We think it is safe to say that the internet is here to stay.

Credit where it’s due – in terms of technology, Irish business owners have become a very open-minded and progressive lot in recent years.

responsive design

To app or not to app?

The most important question to ask here is WHY?  The most common reasons we get from clients are :

  • The Arms Race – our rival has an app, we can’t let them get one up on us

  • Braggadocio – we can tell everybody that we have an app

  • Broad Church – our customers are asking for a better mobile experience

  • Black Hole – we could be losing business if we do not cater for mobile devices

What is the difference between an app and a mobile site?

In simple terms, mobile apps are a piece of software, downloaded from an app store which is installed on the device.  A mobile/responsive website design is a version of the website shown to users on smartphones / mobile devices which has been optimised to work intuitively and look/feel natural on that device.

This infographic ( courtesy of MGD Advertising ) below, outlines the main areas to be explored when weighing up the options.

mobile apps infographic

Some good questions to be asked :

  • who are your existing and potential clients?
  • how do your existing clients interact with you?
  • will an app or apps make this interaction easier?
  • ideally, how do you want your clients to interact with you?

Situations which are more suited to full mobile apps or native apps :

  • regular interaction or use
  • offline activity
  • content tailoring
  • complex activity that might require cameras, lights, calendars, location settings etc
  • larger budget, longer lead time

Situations which are more suited to mobile responsive design websites :

  • simple tasks or activities
  • infrequent activity
  • same content for all users
  • smaller budget, shorter lead time

To summarise, giving your clients an attractive, user-friendly mobile experience is no longer an option, it is crucial if you are serious about retaining/growing your clientele. Deciding on mobile apps or responsive sites is an important decision and hopefully, the guide above will help.

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