Why you don’t need a smart phone app for your website

smphappIs your audience visiting your website on a smartphone?

Over one-fifth of Americans access the web on a smartphone such as an iPhone or
Android — and that number increased 31% from 2009 to 2010.

Why smartphones don’t like your website

What do more smartphone visitors mean for your website? It means they will typically have a poor user experience — here’s why:

  • Size: Your website probably isn’t designed to display well on a smartphone. Most websites are designed for a 17” monitor — not a 2” wide smartphone screen.
  • Media: The elements that enrich your website experience — the expansive layout, images, and animation — may be too large for the cellphone network, resulting in frustrating delays; or may not display at all because of incompatible software.

To evaluate how mobile friendly your website is, try this tool here. Don’t be surprised if you get a low rating — most websites, including ours, scored low.

Bridging the mobile gap

There are 2 ways to bridge the gap between your website and smartphones: apps or a mobile-friendly website. Apps are software that you download and install in your smart phone. Apps are great if you want to help users do mobility-specific tasks. Or if you want to create a branded game, or already have a subscriber relationship with your user, it’s a very good way to go.

But if you just need to extend the reach of your website into the mobile world, apps can be overkill.

The app process

Apps need to be built to work in the operating system of the smartphone they are intended for: for example iPhone apps need to be built in IOS, while Android phones need Android apps. Not to mention Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and other systems. This adds to development costs, since you are building multiple iterations of the app. After it’s built, it has to be submitted to an app store, accepted by the store, and found by the user, who then needs to be motivated to acquire and download it. So there are barriers to overcome to get your app on a user’s smart phone.

Mobile-friendly websites

A mobile-friendly website, on the other hand, is built once for all smartphones. Like your regular website, it resides online, not on your computer or smartphone. This makes a mobile-friendly website more flexible and cost efficient, with fewer barriers between you and your target users.

When a user visits your website using a smartphone, the website detects the mobile device and redirects the user to the mobile-friendly version of the website — so the experience is seamless.

If you are venturing into the mobile web, a mobile-friendly website is a less expensive first step — if you find you do need an app, you can always invest in building one later.

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FACT OF THE MONTH

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