Mobile Websites Versus Mobile Applications

Mobile Websites vs Mobile Applications

A strong mobile presence, whether it be a mobile friendly website or dedicated mobile app, is vital to the success of your business online. In this post, we’ll cover some of the differences between mobile websites and mobile applications. The two can look almost identical at first glance, but have a few key differences.

Mobile/Responsive Websites are typically setup to display text, images, videos and additional data, much like a typical website. In addition, mobile (responsive) sites are developed with smaller screen size in mind. They also tend to use mobile-specific features such as click-to-call and GPS-based mapping that are only found on mobile devices.

Apps are dedicated programs that must first be downloaded and installed on the mobile device’s operating system. Typically, applications are found using the Android Market or Apple’s App Store. Mobile applications are developed to fetch data from the web and display them inside the app. The data can be potentially stored on the device for offline use later.

So, which is a better choice for your business? We’ll go over the advantages of each solution.

Advantages of a Mobile (Responsive) Website:

  • Available immediately in browser whereas Mobile Applications require download and installation on the device.
  • Compatible across all devices, regardless of OS or Platform.
  • Instantly upgradeable, without requiring the user to download and install the latest version.
  • Indexed by the search engines and can typically be found more easily, potentially bringing more website traffic and possibly more business.
  • Easy to share by hyperlinks with any type of message (e-mail, Facebook, text, Twitter, etc).
  • Mobile websites are more typically cost-effective and take less time to setup.

Advantages of a Mobile Application:

  • Mobile Applications can be available offline and require no internet connection to function properly.
  • Dedicated applications can process data locally that isn’t possible with a website (think camera and device processor functions)
  • For more complex calculation or reporting, a mobile app will allow you to leverage the phone’s hardware to do the things that a website won’t (banking/investment-type applications)
  • Applications are able to send mobile notifications in a wider assortment of ways other than text or email (Pop-up banners, Custom sound notifications, etc)
  • If you’re building a game, mobile applications will allow you to make a more in-depth game, as all of the processing can be handled by the phone’s processor (which are rather robust these days)


Both mobile websites and mobile applications have their strong points and weaknesses. A mobile website is usually a first-step for most companies looking to get their feet wet on the mobile platform. This is especially true if you will be getting traffic from search engines such as Google or Bing. If you are needing something that requires more processing power, offline access or access to native functions on the mobile device (think Photo Printing application), you will open up more options if you choose the mobile application path. It’s also worth mentioning that some companies have both a mobile application as well as a mobile website. This is common practice with large e-commerce stores such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, etc.

How can I get a mobile website or mobile app for my business?

SandStorm IT can assist you by helping you decide which option is a better fit for your business. We can also answer any questions you have about either platform. From that point, we can custom build the ideal solution that will perfectly fit your mobile needs. Feel free to give us a call at 901-475-0275