Mobile Website vs Mobile App: Which Is Best?

The mobile website versus mobile app debate is a consequence of current developments in the way websites and applications are built for mobile devices. Any individual, company, or organization interested in establishing a mobile presence is going to have to deal with it.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Mobile websites and mobile apps are both designed and optimized for Smartphones and tablets.

– Mobile websites are just like standard websites, with the difference that they are optimized for the small touch-screen of mobile devices. Sometimes, mobile websites also have features like mapping and click-to-call, which are specific to mobile devices.

– Mobile apps are applications you download on your mobile device from app portals such as Android Market or Apple App Store. Mobile apps can work online, offline, or both, and they are designed for a specific platform (iOS, Android) though popular apps are usually available across platforms.

Mobile Website First, Mobile App Second

Creating a mobile website is normally the first step individuals or companies take when developing a web presence, because setting up a mobile website is easy and cost-effective. Once the mobile website is in place, then a mobile app that serves a more specific function can be developed.

But it all depends on what you’re developing. Games, for example, are best developed as mobile apps from the start, whereas content-based projects are usually best developed as mobile websites. Ideally, you want both a mobile website and a mobile app, but you usually have to build the website first.

Mobile Websites versus Mobile Apps

When your goal is to reach many users quickly, a mobile website is preferable to a mobile app. On the other hand, when you want to provide a powerful tool or a complex game, a mobile app is better.

– Mobile websites work across platforms and devices, an iPhone (iOS) user as well as a Samsung (Android) user being able to access the same mobile website.
– Mobile applications work only with the platforms for which they have been developed, an Android user not being able to access an iOS mobile app unless the app is available in the Android Marketplace as well.

– Mobile websites are instantly available to any mobile users with an Internet connection and browser.
– Mobile apps require to be downloaded and installed before they can be used.

– Mobile websites are easy to support, adding new content to them being easy.
– Mobile apps can be costly to sustain because they require frequent upgrades to fix bugs and to enhance features.

– Mobile websites can be upgraded quickly and easily, and the upgrade will become active instantly.
– Mobile apps upgrades are typically released as a new app version, which will have to be downloaded and installed by the user on top of the old version.

Life Cycle
– Mobile websites are accessible to all users for as long as the Web is up.
– Mobile apps are rarely used for more than a few months (or years for remarkable apps), after which they are either forgotten or deleted.


Building a mobile website is the obvious choice for anyone wishing to establish a mobile presence on the Web quickly and effectively. Developing a mobile app is the recommended choice for those making games or tools that feature complex calculations or that are required to work offline. Ideally, you will want to start with a mobile website, and then, in time, build a mobile app as well.

Author Byline
Jason Phillips has authored this article. Jason is an onsite trainer who is adept in creating a flash website. His tutorials range from basic to advanced topic. In case, you want to gain insights on flash extension and animations, feel free to visit his website.

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3 thoughts on “Mobile Website vs Mobile App: Which Is Best?”

  1. I think a lot is being left out here… With HTML mobile websites can now function as “web apps” which means the mobile site also as the ability to be added to the home page of a mobile device with a custom “app” icon. You can also add a splash page like in a native app to your website. The only thing you are missing from a native app is the ablility to send push messages, which is a big thing for some marketers, and use the app store to market the app, which is a whole another monster. 

    While some of your points are true the way technology is going “web apps” and HTML5 based sites are the future. Native apps will still exist for more dynamic functions (games, calculators, etc..) but not for normal small businesses. Why bother it is a lot more affordable to build a web app that functions as both a website and an app that works across all platforms.

  2. I think a mobile website is more appropriate for most companies. I imagine that most people believe that there should be a USP when it comes to an App, that they need to create the next viral masterpiece. With a website, you are just making sure that your customers come to a site that they are familiar with on a different platform.

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