Do You Need a Mobile App or a Mobile Website?

Matt Ulmer
Matt Ulmer VP of Operations & Client Relations

Mobile App vs. Mobile WebsiteBy now you probably realize that you need a mobile presence for the hundreds of millions of smartphone users.

But what should you do?  The default thought is to need an app, but there is also the option to develop a mobile-optimized version of your website. Which is the best avenue for you?

Mobile apps


  • Since they are their own platform, apps can provide a polished, integrated, and wholly unique experience
  • Preferences and functionality can be customized to the individual needs of users
  • Apps can leverage other functions of your phone, such as camera, email, social media connections, and more.


  • Apps take special knowledge to develop and for some platforms require approval from an outside entity (such as Apple)
  • Separate apps will need to be built for each mobile platform (Apple, Android, and Windows)
  • Your audience must download the app to their phone before they can use it and must manually update the app to see any changes and improvements you make


Mobile websites


  • Development for the Web doesn’t require the same software, specialized skill, and submission process as app development
  • Mobile sites can be built to work on all smartphone platforms and screen sizes
  • Users can visit a URL from their mobile browser instead of downloading a program from an app store, and updating the site instantly gives all users access to the newest version


  • Designs, animations, and functionality won’t be as slick and integrated and may not work as smoothly as a stand-alone app
  • User preferences and behaviors can’t be as easily implemented and saved
  • The user experience is controlled and dictated by the Web browser



Whether you need a mobile app or a mobile website really comes down to the goal and intent of the platform.

Are you looking for a way for smartphone owners to interact with you the way they would on a computer? Than you probably only need a mobile-optimized version of your site, which will take less development time and (if done properly) will work universally across all mobile devices.

However, if you are delivering an offering such as a resource, a game, or a paid service that you expect users to return to, with the ability to login or even customize the functionality, you may want an app that they can download to and store on their phone. It may take more effort to build, but you will be in full control of the user experience and will be able to integrate with other features of the phone.

So, which is the right option for you?

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