Taking Your Business Mobile: Mobile Website Or App?

Whether we like it or not, the mobile world is growing rapidly around us.

There are over a million apps on the market and businesses worldwide are becoming mobile. The time has come. You have finally decided it’s time to take your business mobile. How difficult can it be to make an app? The question is: do you choose to make a mobile site or an app (or both) and what is the difference?

mobile site or app

Mobile site or app? Image via Etisbew

What Is A Mobile Website?

A mobile site is a website that has been optimized for viewing on a mobile device, i.e. a tablet or a cell phone. Your current webpage address can be reached through the phone’s web browser as long as internet coverage is available.

But that does not mean that it will be easy to read or navigate on a mobile device with its current design. It is important that you make your website mobile friendly. There are online tools such as; Onbile and Wirenode that will help you achieve this.

Optimizing your website to a mobile site has its pros and cons.


  • A mobile site works on all the different app platforms, such as; iOS6, Android
  • Converting your current website to a mobile site is considerable cheaper and faster than creating an app from scratch
  • You can embed a mobile site into an app at a later stage of development
  • A mobile site can be found and accessed through internet searches and web links on a mobile browser
  • There is no need for someone to download your mobile site since it is found via the mobile browser
  • Updating your mobile site is managed via your website management system


  • Mobile sites are not written in native code which can affect quality and performance
  • While browsing on your mobile site the phone’s features become unavailable
  • Bookmarking your mobile site can be difficult for some users who will need to input the web address each time they want to view your site

What Is An App?

A mobile application, otherwise known as an “app” is written in “native code,” the technical language of a particular platform; such as the Rim Blackberry OS, iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, Android, or MeeGo. Unlike a mobile site, an app functions independently from your existing website and requires you to create, update and maintain it separately.

Creating an app over a mobile site has its own list of advantages and disadvantages.


  • The use of native code allows the app to run with high performance, quality and speed
  • Once the app is downloaded there is a single click icon for easy access
  • Many apps are available offline and do not require internet access
  • Opening an app does not affect the use of the mobile phone features such as the camera


  • Creating an app in native code only allows your app to run on one platform. If you want it to run everywhere, you need to develop multiple apps — one for each OS.
  • Your app can not be found directly from a webpage and must be downloaded from an app market
  • Downloading an app can be daunting for some mobile phone users
  • App markets often require a fee to publish or certify your app

 Why Choose A Mobile Site Over An App?

Should You Build a Mobile App or Mobile Website? [infographic by MDG Advertising]

Infographic by MDG Advertising

There are a number of reasons why I would initially recommend optimizing your website for a mobile audience before creating an app. The reasons being:

  • Search: When people initially look for information they will use a web browser to search for it and they are not as likely to search the app store
  • Cost: Having to only optimize one website for it to work on multiple mobile platforms automatically produces a reduction in development costs
  • Performance: Although not as high as an app, the improvement in mobile web browsers is increasing dramatically along with the access to from WiFi
  • Longevity: Mobile platforms are still being developed, upgraded and are in transitions. The web is a secure environment which will remain stable in the years to come
  • WebappsTools are making it easier to convert mobile websites into apps for free within minutes

Moving your business into the mobile field is a natural step to reach customers who are increasingly using mobile devices.

Creating a mobile website, by either optimizing your current website or creating an app, tends to be the first step into the mobile world for many businesses.

We have seen here that there are some fundamental differences between the two and although I suggest starting by optimizing your existing website for mobile use and then moving this to an app, I fully appreciate that you may have other ideas. I would love to hear more about your business’ first step into the mobile world.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing | Mobile Marketing Column


About The Author: joined Hunter & Bard in September 2012 and is the Community Manager for AppsGeyser. Ms. Cohen brings with her over 8 years of training and business development experience.

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  • keaner

    Your title tag just says “mobile website” , fyi :). Good article

  • http://www.tvsinternetmarketing.com/ Travis Van Slooten

    Kim, great post! I get this question all the time from clients – should I go mobile with a website or make an app. I have yet to talk to a business where an app makes more sense than a mobile website so I’m going strictly mobile sites right now.

    Having said that, if businesses have the budget and are willing to be more creative in their marketing, apps can be an assume marketing tool. Here’s just one example…I was looking for a creative app to have developed for a law firm. During my research I found a DUI app. It was a simple tool that allowed you to enter your gender, weight, what you’re drinking, how many drinks you’ve had, etc. and it would estimate if you were over the limit or not. It had thousands of downloads and the author of the app? A big law firm:) The app also had a list of what to do if you’re arrested for DUI…which of course one of the things on the list was to call the law firm for legal representation.

    Travis Van Slooten


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