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.