Adaptive website or mobile app? Do I need a mobile app?

In this article, we will compare the creation of a site adapted for mobile devices with a native mobile app created for the IOS and Android platforms from a business point of view. We will take a few key criteria and see which technology performs better.

Comparison of PWA and Android

We will Compare a fully adapted mobile app based on PWA technology with native mobile apps for IOS and Android.

Let's look at the fundamental difference between these two approaches.

Native mobile apps (hereinafter referred to as NMP) are created for the platform. They are installed as full-featured apps in the smartphone operating system or apps. Each platform has its own separate application. The app is moderated in the PlayMarket or App Store to be placed in the General app catalog of the platform.

Adaptive site with PWA technology (hereinafter-PWA) is a site that runs in the browser. It can look completely like a web app, and its icon can be placed on the home screen of your smartphone. For the user, this looks like using an app, but inside it is the same site. The app is installed via a link without waiting for moderation from the platforms.

An adaptive site with PWA technology can look like a web application

Convenience and functionality on mobile devices

NMP is more convenient, because it takes into account the nuances of a particular platform more subtly. The app is developed for the platform, and it is initially created in the design style of this platform (for example, for Android in Material Design). The NMP can also use all the additional features provided by the device's hardware, such as a gyroscope, additional complex hand actions, access to files and phone contact books, etc.

The difference between the convenience of the site and the app is gradually erased

It is not always easy to determine who is who from a single view. However, it is worth recognizing that in deeper details, the mobile app gives some advantage.

Mobile app development budget

If you make a project containing a website and mobile apps, the budget will be about 2.5 times higher, than if you just make a website.
The fact is that you need to make your own mobile app for each platform. The situation is complicated by the fact that each platform needs its own technologies. There are cross-platform solutions (for example, Xamarin), but the front-end of applications will still be different.
So in the case of development a complete site + IOS + Android together, you need to involve a fairly large team in the project and ensure their interaction, which significantly increases the project budget. In the future, maintaining the project requires having all these specialists on hand to make changes (and there will always be changes), which is quite expensive.

Integration must also be considered. Mobile apps and websites will essentially use the API to communicate with a single data source (a service that works with a database), which also complicates development.

The design for different platforms may differ (if you follow the requirements and design approaches developed within these platforms). This also increases the budget for creating and implementing these designs.

Difficulty attracting an audience

In the case of a site, there is a standard process of attracting visitors - optimizing the site for search engines, launching direct ads, publishing content and distributing it on various resources.

In the case of a mobile app, several questions arise at once. In fact, they will search for you either through your site, and you will encourage the user to install the app on it. Or it will be a search in the app catalog in the platform, but it is extremely difficult to get to the TOP.

An even more difficult point is to motivate the user to set something for himself. Now the phone plays a very important role in a person's life.
Financial instruments (for example, a Bank application) work on it, and a vigilant user tries not to install unnecessary applications for security reasons. When installing, many people are guided by the fact that this app has already been downloaded more than 50 thousand times. That is, it is very difficult for a young application to start in this regard.
In the case of a site , it is simply a click on a link that the user saw in an ad, on another site, or in an email.
An additional point is that the NMP eats the phone's resources more actively. If you install everything on your phone, it will eventually run slowly and your memory will be clogged with unnecessary programs. This is another reason to install applications very selectively and delete unnecessary ones.

It is extremely difficult to get a user to install a young app on their phone

In most cases, we use a very small set of applications - social networks and messengers. Everything else is rare and fragmentary.
In General, the mobile app itself does not generate traffic or new users. It makes sense to use it when you have already formed a large audience, and you are creating an app to meet its needs, rather than to attract new people through this app. In most cases, this is the lot of large companies with a large pool of customers. The mobile app allows them to optimize their work with their clients by creating a client service in the form of a personal account.

Speed of improvements and maintenance of the site and mobile app

In my opinion, this is the main disadvantage in native mobile apps.
To add a new function to the system or fix an unpleasant bug, you must re-publish the app. Then you need to update the app for the user. All this takes a lot of time, effort and traffic. In the case of a site, you update everything in one place and this updated interface is immediately displayed to users when they make new requests.

I think it is extremely important to be able to quickly improve the site or app as you use it.

The shorter the cycle of such implementations, the faster you can try and implement innovations in the project.
In the case of the NMP, the situation is further aggravated by two points. First, there are two platforms and each has its own cycle of improvements. Secondly, there are many devices (especially for Android). Each device may be slightly different to work with. Because of this, it happens that the new version of the product just crashes on some devices, which causes the user to be negative.

Risks of blocking the site and mobile app

Your app is highly dependent on the policies of the management of two American companies - Apple and Google. For example, they may impose a ban on certain industries (for example, online betting or something similar). Or in General, for some political reasons, they will disconnect the Russian Federation from their infrastructure. This is unlikely, but there is still a risk of losing all your work and platform.
Another example is submitting a complaint about your app and the moderator will close your app in the app catalog. Also an additional risk.

Of Course, for a normal site, there are risks of getting banned by Yandex or Google, and there is a risk that the KRN will close your site, but there are at least some legal tools to correct the situation.

In the case of platform applications, you are completely in the clutches of the Corporation that owns the platform.

In my opinion, mobile apps have a very limited list of uses:

  • First, these are games where you need performance and extended access to hardware.
  • Secondly, these are personal accounts in large service companies. Good examples are banking products (for example, Tinkoff Bank's office) and loyalty cards (Pyaterochka card, Sberbank Food app). In other words, there is a huge audience that has a serious reason to install the app and use it regularly.
  • Well, third, is communication and consumption of video and audio content. Messengers and social networks. This is the fate of players ranked FB, VK, Netflix, Youtube (Google).

As you can see, there is no place for small and medium - sized businesses in this list - except to make games.

As an experiment, ask your friends what they put on their phone recently, and what they regularly use for themselves.

Sometimes you will come across applications-unicorns (some kind of fitness tracker that is used day and night by 0.0000000001% of people), but they are also unicorns to appear suddenly and out of nowhere in defiance of all the laws of nature.

Example of PWA as an animation - https://giphy.com/gifs/pwa-l0HlBBzZ7eAV0h06Q

P.S. The conclusion of this article is not that you need to forget about the mobile market. This audience is steadily growing, and it is commercially active. The main point is to approach this issue seriously and consciously. Reading articles about statistics (the audience is growing, sales are growing, etc.), it seems that you need to jump on this train faster. But for some reason, these statistics do not indicate what percentage of these transactions are accounted for by the largest mobile apps (I am sure this is more than 90% of the total flow). These overall numbers don't mean much to you, small or medium-sized businesses.
What difference does it make to me how much Netflix or Google sells in mobile traffic? I am much more interested in knowing how things are going for small similar applications.  I Think that if you cut off the top fat layer, it turns out that the pie is not so big in fact.
The right strategy for mobile apps can be the following: first, we build a website, gain critical mass in the form of a large customer base, understand their needs more deeply, and only then can we start developing a native mobile app for them. we serve our existing audience, rather than trying to start looking for new users with a new app.

The author of the article is Ruslan Ryanov

The creator of the Falcon Space platform

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