Mobile app vs. mobile website?
We are starting to think about making mosaicHUB more mobile friendly. I think a mobile app would be great, but curious what folks think would be better, a mobile app or a mobile website. We probably cannot do both right now.
The answer is you need both, but if you need to choose which you do first, I would recommend the mobile website. The reason is that smart phones are increasingly becoming the access device of choice when it comes to the web. Even though the percentage is still small, the trend will continue. So your site needs to be able to intelligently present content to the smart phone user. The mobile site needs a different design and it needs to be more focused. I would say that building the mobile site will help you identify some mobile apps you may want to build in the future.
Here is an example. Check out this site on the web using your computer and on your smart phone:
Canadian Franchise Opportunities - www.CAfranchiseOpportunities.com. This is using a simple WordPress Plugin. For a site like yours, a plugin would not likely be sufficient because you would want to get focused on specific functionality.
We get this question a lot, too. What we usually do is back up and try to understand business objectives and then lay out a strategy. Then we can start addressing the technology choices. Here are the steps we follow:
1) What are your main business objectives?
2) Who is your audience? Are they carrying smartphones? Do they download apps? Are they in a hurry?
3) What is the mobile strategy? In other words, what experience do you want the mobile user to have?
4) Given all the above, the technical approach - in this case app vs. web - may be much clearer.
In your case I think about your practice of driving people back to the site using email alerts and digests. Your audience is likely reading these from their mobile device. Tapping a link currently takes you to the non-mobile mosaichub.com, which is not a good experience from a smartphone (probably ok from a tablet). A mobile site could help fix this problem but an app won't.
I have been in your shoes before. We have a web site, mobile site and a lot of apps, some free and most paid.
While I agree with the logic of having both mobile web site and app, I prefer app for a number of reasons. I feel it provides a more intimate and controlled interaction with your "customers". A user that downloads your app has a stronger tie and commitment to you than the one who browses your mobile site. It is also good to have your app icon sitting on their phone, being visible to them all the time.
The main disadvantage of the apps is the cost of developing and supporting them on multiple platforms. This brings me to my next point which could be of help to you. Using some cool yet proven technology developed by friends of mine, they produced an app for us running on both Android and iOS in a matter of couple of days! They used our existing web site content and capabilities. They even improved user experience over our web site. My team did not have to do anything. Some of the key advantages of this approach is that, the portion of the app that resides on the client/phone is very small, downloads immediately, and when we make changes to the app, users do NOT need to download the app again! Perhaps this is exactly what you need.
If you or anyone else is interested in knowing more, feel free to contact me.
Here's a really good article (with an infographic) that weighs the pros and cons of mobile apps vs. mobile websites and includes market share and type of user base for each:
I see a lot of good feedback from a general perspective, but am not sure I saw anyone ask you any questions back...
1. Is your web site currently set up to transition easily into a mobile optimized web site using Responsive Design or Adaptive Design?
2. Is it important to use Push Notifications for messages, alerts, etc for you mobile audience?
3. Does your web site need to utilize native phone functionality like the camera, local memory, etc?
4. Do you want the User to be able to access information at all times, as opposed to being connected to the web?
If you said yes to 2, 3, or 4, then the obvious answer is start working on a mobile app. But if you also answered yes to number 1, then find out the scope of work to "tweak"existing code and make it responsive/adaptive.
Lastly, you might be able to reuse aspects of your site and using PhoneGap ( http://phonegap.com ) or Appcellerator ( http://www.appcelerator.com ) to build out a native app using your JS technologies.
hope this helps.
Glad you are thinking about a mobile version for MosaicHUB, I think that would be great.
Mobile apps / sites is what I do, so I hope you don't mind if I disagree slightly to some of the above comments about simply reformating the existing Mosaic website into a mobile template for presentation via mobile web browsers on phones and tablets. I liken this to making a TV commercial by holding your company's print ad up in front of a TV camera for 30 seconds.
Users have very different use expectations between a desktop experience and a mobile experience. Your mobile app / site should typically be more oriented to immediate access to functionality that would be valuable to someone on the move. There are some wonderful functions on this site that just aren't relevant to a mobile user.
Similarly, there are mobile-relevant functions that would be great value to your members on the move that wouldn't work on the site. (For example, a "who's near me" function for members to invite other members for a coffee chat...)
Lastly, as for the question of Native App vs. Mobile Site - the simple answer is BOTH! Without being too shamelessly self-promotional, but our drag-and-drop app builder service at www.FANtastic4SMBs.com allows you to simultaneously publish a Native iPhone App, a Native Android App and an HTML5 mobile website, with a single-click. We have a FREE service, or for just $54 you could have a mobile version of MosaicHUB in Google's Android Market + Apple's iTunes markets + on a vanity mobile web URL.
Love what you do, and I'll be excited to see a mobile version!
For mosaicHUB, it's a tough decision. I develop mobile apps for a living and face this question all the time.
As with many such general questions, the answer is: It depends.
What are the goals? Many people want to monetize their product and having their product in the app stores is akin to having shelf space at Walmart.
(See http://303velocity.com/blog/piece-app-store-pie/) It allows people to browse and buy your product. When it comes down to it, the app stores really serve as marketing and distribution tools.
Getting back to mosaicHUB, I would say that it makes sense to first talk to your customers - which is what you're doing right here, so great job with that! You're already ahead of the game. I would recommend some real back-and-forth voice conversations as well to dig deeper to understand what your customers really want and need.
My personal vote would be for a native app (or apps) simply because it's easier to download, install and generally has a better overall user experience than a website. The problem here, of course, is the cost to develop native is higher and then you have to likely do it again on multiple platforms - at least currently for both Android and iOS. But that's another discussion entirely...
Hope this helps!
303 Velocity - http://303velocity.com
Your top notch user experience, mobilized.
It depends on MH's goals and user-base target:
For example, for Travel apps, numbers show that users prefer app over web. (1)
So is true for Android users, they prefer apps over mobile web (2)
But when it comes to shopping, reports show that consumers prefer mobile web over native apps (3)
and also for browsing news content (4)
But generally speaking, 64% of mobile phone time is spent on apps and of that only 5% is spent on Social Media (5)
I hope that this helped, here are the links:
For a site such as mosaicHUB I would suggest a simple mobile website for the fact that in 2013 more people will be connecting to the internet via mobile devices compared to desktop devices (Microsoft Tag - Pretty much this is saying that eventually everyone will need a mobile website if they want to stay present).
For search purposes & with internet users that are not familiar with mosaciHUB, a mobile website would be great to get them informed as to why mosaicHUB is a great community for them. From there...lead them to the mobile app if they want to become a member of the community.
With that said, since this website is very community-based, I would highly recommend a mobile app. Do your research, you may be surprised at how cost effective getting a mobile website can be especially if you find a consultant that will help you integrate both.
As long as mobile remains a relatively new frontier, the “app vs web” question will remain a very real consideration for organizations seeking to establish a mobile presence. If your mobile goals are primarily marketing-driven, or if your aim is to deliver content and establish a broad mobile presence that can be easily shared between users and found on search engines, then the a mobile website is the logical choice. On the other hand, if your goal is interactive engagement with users, or to provide an application that needs to work more like a computer program than a website, then an app is probably going to be required.