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Web Or Mobile App? 17 Important Details When Deciding (And Building)

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Whether you’re creating a Web app or a mobile app for your business, the end goals are to provide a helpful service for as many customers as possible and expand your company’s reach. But how do you know whether a Web app or a mobile app will be the better path forward?

It’s essential to consider a variety of customer- and business-focused factors when choosing between the two options. Below, 17 members of Forbes Technology Council share important insights and considerations for company leaders who need to decide whether a Web or mobile app is the right option for their business, as well as essential details to remember once development starts.

1. The Demands Of The Target Audience

For businesses deciding between a Web and mobile interface, the primary consideration should be the demands of their target audience. This approach enables businesses to effectively implement either a push strategy to generate demand or a pull strategy to meet existing demand. – Ravi Changle, Compunnel Inc.

2. Your Users’ Behavior And Your Business Goals

User accessibility, as well as users’ preferences and objectives, are the main factors that should influence the choice between a Web app and a mobile app. Understanding user behavior and coordinating it with your business goals is essential. Based on user-centric research, this strategic decision guarantees optimal engagement, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, laying the groundwork for long-term success. – Hadi Tabani, Liquid Technologies

3. The Impact On Your Brand

Consider the brand image impact when choosing between a Web or mobile app, as this choice can shape how your brand is perceived. A software startup may use a modern mobile app for a tech-savvy image, while a cybersecurity firm may prioritize a polished Web platform, emphasizing professionalism and security to build trust with clients. – Maksym Petruk, WeSoftYou

4. The User Context

Choose between a Web and mobile app based on the user context. Mobile is best for on-the-go accessibility, push notifications and 24/7 accessibility, while Web is better for detailed interactions on larger screens. This decision directly influences the user experience and the app’s success. – Amitkumar Shrivastava, Fujitsu

5. The Amount Of Time That Will Be Spent In The App

If you’re creating an app that you want to be easy to dip into and out of, and/or something with time-sensitive, dynamic content—communities, for example—build mobile first. If you’re creating an enterprise tool that people will spend hours inside of and/or something complicated that needs more real estate than a phone screen, desktop makes more sense. – Lindsey Witmer Collins, WLCM “Welcome” App Studio

6. Your Product’s Complexity

Choose based on your product’s complexity: a Web app for simple, easy-to-access information or a mobile app for more interactive features such as offline access and notifications. This decision impacts user engagement and satisfaction by aligning functionality with user needs. It’s about finding the right balance between accessibility and the user experience to maximize your product’s effectiveness. – Sandro Shubladze, Datamam

7. Your Audience’s Commonly Used Devices

Consider your audience, especially if you have a global presence. Most devices in the world are relatively low-end and have limited space for apps. Providing a Web solution is likely to be necessary for those markets, and it could still be leveraged in higher-capability markets. If the market comprises only high-end users in every country, a mobile app could make sense. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

8. User Engagement

When deciding between a Web or mobile app, consider user engagement. Mobile apps often lead to higher engagement due to their accessibility and tailored user experiences. This distinction is crucial, as it directly impacts user interaction and retention, influencing the overall success of the app in meeting its objectives. – Bob Ras, Coreum

9. Data Protection

All new Web and mobile applications should have data protection baked into the design. This means tokenizing or encrypting the data at the field level so if data loss occurs, no damage is done, as the data is unusable. Doing so protects consumer data and helps you maintain compliance with regulations, which are becoming increasingly punitive when it comes to responding to data breaches. – Ameesh Divatia, Baffle, Inc.

10. What The App Needs To Do

The use case is paramount. Web apps have become the new gold standard, as they can be responsive and work on nearly every device and OS. A ubiquitous experience is usually what businesses are after. If the use case is purely mobile and the app is heavy on UI or dependent on utilizing sensors within a phone, it’s always better to go with a native app. In either case, the limit is always long-term development. – Tom Roberto, SG Network Services

11. Accessibility

One crucial factor to consider when developing an app is its accessibility for users with diverse needs. Web apps, being inherently compatible with various devices and browsers, are easier to design with accessibility in mind, catering to a broader audience and fostering inclusivity. If inclusivity is a priority, a Web app might be more versatile than a mobile app. – Cristian Randieri, Intellisystem Technologies

12. Difficulty Of Creation And Maintenance

Mobile applications are more complex to build, release and maintain. If the app is meant to use a mobile device’s capabilities, such as the camera, microphone, GPS and/or accelerometer, then build a mobile application; otherwise, build a Web app with a responsive design for mobile devices. – Boris Lapouga, WorkHQ

13. The Available Budget

When deciding between a Web or a mobile app, consider the audience, user experience and data gathered. Your budget is also a factor. A Web app is best for maximizing limited resources and reaching a diverse audience, while a mobile app is better for products or services tied to a mobile phone. – Jimmie Lee, JLEE

14. The Age And Range Of Your Target Audience

Consider the demographics and habits of your target audience to figure out what methods they already use and prefer to use when interacting with the type of product you’ll be offering. For very broad or younger audiences, it may be better to build a mobile app first, because more than 90% of Americans ages 18 to 64 have smartphones, and mobile apps are quicker and more efficient to use anytime, anywhere. – Ryan Barone, RentRedi

15. AR Applicability

Explore the potential for augmented reality in your app’s functionality. Assess whether your business can benefit from immersive AR experiences that enhance user engagement. Whether it’s virtual try-on features for e-commerce or interactive educational elements, integrating AR can provide a unique and captivating user experience, influencing the decision between a Web or mobile platform. – Jagadish Gokavarapu, Wissen Infotech

16. Scalability

Scalability is a big factor when deciding between a Web or mobile app. Businesses should assess their growth plans and target audience size. Web apps are often more scalable, as they can cater to a broader range of devices and operating systems without needing separate development for each platform. Understanding scalability needs ensures that the chosen app type can accommodate future growth. – Meiran Galis, Scytale

17. Anticipated Technological Evolution

A key factor is the anticipated technological evolution over the app’s lifespan. Given the rapid pace of tech advancements, consider how emerging trends such as 5G, AI and the Internet of Things might impact the app’s functionality and user experience. This foresight is crucial for ensuring the app not only meets immediate needs, but also remains relevant and adaptable in the face of fast-changing technology landscapes. – Ryan Lasmaili, Vaultree

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