App or website?

When to build an app and when to build a mobile-enabled website

There is a fine line between deciding whether to build a mobile 'app' or a mobile-enabled website. Here are some of the considerations that will influence this decision:

Consideration App Web Why Importance
Cost Web costs less - App developers can be expected to charge a premium for experience in emerging technologies. Building and testing apps for multiple platforms takes more time. High
Risk Apps are high risk as the technology is less well understood and is changing faster. There are multiple devices to build for and vendors are immature. High
Latency It is faster to operate an app than to wait for web-pages to load. High
Maintenance Apps require multiple versions to be supported. High/Med
Deployment frequency Web changes are immediately available to users. Apps take some time to publish. Cost may preclude frequent deployments. Medium
Phone features Apps have full access to phone features including sensors. Medium
Commerce Web commerce is more mature than the cloud-services that apps typically integrate with. Medium
User population There are many more web-enabled phones than smartphones. Medium
User interface Apps can be more intuitive and make use of phone-specific gestures. Low
Data persistence Apps can persist data locally where the network is unavailable. A requirement may be to persist frequent sensor readings. It would be more efficient to hold these locally and upload later. Low

Other factors that may impact a decision are:

  • the hardware being used by the target users
  • the maturity of the users in their use of apps and phone browsers
  • the life-span of the system - is its purpose to support a campaign or a business process.

Turtle Technology can assist you in making the right investment.