Mobile web access accounts for over 12% of all Internet traffic worldwide, and this number continues to grow rapidly. If your organization does not account for mobile within its overall communications strategy, whether it is a mobile enabled website or mobile app, the potential for missing the mark and losing customers is very real.

Determining whether you need a mobile website, mobile app, or both comes down to your organization’s goals, but a mobile strategy that is integrated with other channels is essential to reaching your customers, investors, and employees.

So your organization has picked an app as part of their mobile strategy. Now what?

First, we should define a native app and a mobile web app. A native app is an application that is built specifically for a smartphone or tablet, one that fully integrates with the device’s operating system. For example, a native app integrates seamlessly with features like GPS, camera, and calendar without leaving the app experience. Native apps take full advantage of smartphone operating systems and features, and are built to fit each smartphone or tablet for an optimal user experience. Native apps do not access the web as frequently as web apps, resulting in faster load times.

Native apps are developed for specific platforms, OS, Android, Blackberry, which results in higher development costs and downloadable updates via the app store or Google Play as improvements or new content is added.  However, native apps offer a more seamless user experience because they are built for the device and can use more native features of the device for an interactive user experience.

mobile web app is a mobile website that is launched from an app icon on a smartphone or tablet. It delivers a similar user experience because it launches a mobile optimized website through an app, and offers many similar functions of a native app. Because it’s a website wrapped in an app, one version may be accessible from multiple mobile platforms.  In addition to reaching a larger audience, web apps are often faster, less expensive to develop using HTML5, and can be updated more frequently without downloadable updates required. However, web apps require constant access to the web and can load slower based on bandwidth availability.

One of the main limitations of web apps is the lack of seamless integration with smartphone and tablet functions, such as GPS or the camera; requiring users to launch the application separately. However, web apps can be iterated upon faster than native apps, which give them an advantage for organizations that need to update content frequently.

To determine how your content should be delivered, you need to look at your audience and decide how they will most likely consume content and how you would like them to interact with your content. For instance, if you want an experience that fully uses a smartphone’s capabilities, secured transactions within the application, and an optimized user experience, then a native app may be right for you. However, mobile web apps are quickly gaining momentum in functionality, user interface, and have a wider range on accessibility through smartphones and feature phones.

Determining the type of app, whether native or web app, that is right for your organization depends on your business goals and desired user experience. Developing an integrated mobile strategy with your overall communications and marketing plan will answer those questions to find which mobile avenue is best for your goals and objectives.

How did you decide whether to create a native or web app? Or, are you still wondering which one to choose?  Leave a comment!

In our next Digital Strategy post, we’ll guide you through the questions you should ask when optimizing your website for mobile or tablet delivery.