3 Tips to Consider When Deciding to Build a Web App vs. Mobile App

Tools of the Trade

Designing a new product requires careful consideration of the proper tools and their affordances to ensure a well-thought out and successful experience. When creating a digital product, two primary variations exist: mobile apps and web apps. Oftentimes creators, entrepreneurs, and developers have an idea for a digital experience but are not quite sure which platform to design for. On the contrary, there are times where they have a chosen platform for the idea, but it isn’t the best for the intended product usage. 

In this blog we are going to go over 3 things to consider when deciding between building a web or mobile app.

1. Function

The main factor to consider on whether to build a web or mobile app would depend on the purpose of the app itself. This is where the affordances, or platform specific functions, come into play. When it comes to certain applications, the intended purpose would make more sense on a specific type of platform. For example, a photo taking and sharing app would make more sense as a mobile app than a web app—the reason being that the mobile app would allow for quick access to the app and can integrate with the mobile phone camera. Most individuals take and share photos to social media via their phones as they are on the go or in the moment. Another example best suited for a web app would be something like a spreadsheet application. When it comes to the intended use of the product, most cases require the user to sit down and complete the task for a longer period of time. They may have other windows or files open to reference as they fill out the spreadsheet. This would require a platform that can work optimally on a bigger real estate screen and allow users to type comfortably via keyboard. From these two examples, you can see that the purpose of the application and its typical use needs to be considered when deciding between a web and mobile app. Although mobile apps are very popular these days, not every idea is best suited for that platform and could lead to a poor user experience or even a failed product.

2. Accessibility

Another tip to consider on whether you should design a web or mobile app is based on how you want your product to be accessed. Web apps are able to be accessed anywhere through the internet on a web browser. This allows them to have a larger reach without requiring the users to download an application. With a mobile app, users would only be able to discover your product through their respective app stores and would have to download the application in order to use it. This creates more steps and inconvenience for users as most are conscious about phone storage and app quantities on their mobile devices. By creating a web app, they simply need access to the internet and a web browser where they can use the application. Although this makes accessing the product much more convenient, the downside is that users would have to continuously return to the web browser to access the app. This could be alleviated by creating a desktop shortcut or desktop app of the product the users can download to their computers.

3. Budget

Another factor to consider on whether you should design a web or mobile app is based on your budget. Typically web apps are more cost effective, as they are designed for one code base—in contrast to mobile apps, which may be built with multiple code bases and would need to be developed for multiple operating systems. If you want to save on the cost of developing a full mobile app, a good option would be to develop a mobile responsive web application. This would allow for the mobile experience of an app, with the cost effective and universal nature of web apps all in one package. It could be a great way to test a potential mobile app idea without having to develop it, allowing for the opportunity to see if users would even find having a mobile application version necessary.

Digital products aren’t going anywhere and are only getting better and better thanks to all the talented creatives and inventors bringing their big visions to life. Although it is cool these days to say that you have a mobile app, not all ideas are best suited for it. Make sure you keep in mind the function of the app above all, and from there decide whether you have the budget for it and what level of accessibility and reach you think is best for your product. If you keep these 3 tips in mind, there is no doubt you will build the best product for your business and users. If you have an idea and are interested in starting your app journey, drop us a line here to get started. Happy app-ing!

Sarafina Kamara Image

Sarafina Kamara is a UX/UI designer at Lithios. She enjoys leveraging her creativity to create unique user experiences. In her free time she partakes in meditative plant whispering.

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