Will mobile apps replace websites?
Mobile apps are not meant to replace websites, they are developed to take advantage of the native features of mobile devices in delivering a good user experience.
Depending on what you would want to access on your mobile device, a mobile app can provide a better experience than a website and in other cases, a website can provide a better experience than a mobile app.
Mobile apps and websites are not competitors per se, they are complementary; one offers a better experience where the other doesn’t and vice versa.
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Websites and mobile apps have their own advantages and disadvantages, these advantages and disadvantages will help you to understand when to use a mobile app and when to use a website.
They will also help you to understand whether mobile apps will replace websites.
ADVANTAGES OF WEBSITES
Websites have their own advantages that make them irreplaceable by mobile apps, here are some of them;
- ACCESSED ON ANY PLATFORM: Websites can be accessed through the browser on any device with an internet connection. A website is not bound to a specific device or platform.
Whether you are using IOS, Android, Chrome OS, Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. you will have no problem accessing a website.
Mobile apps on the other hand are platform specific.
- EASILY UPDATED: A website is very easy to update, when you make updates to your website, the changes will immediately be live across the internet without any action from the user.
This makes changes in branding and adding new features very easy and instant. For this to happen on a mobile app, a user has to update the app.
- INSTANT ACCESS AND SHARING: A website is very easy to access, all you need is a URL or a quick google search and you are in.
Sharing content across the internet is also easy with websites, just copy the URL and send it to a friend, at a click of a button, they will be able to see what you are sharing.
- SEARCHING THROUGH THE INTERNET: If you are researching something, a website is your best bet. A simple search in google and millions of websites with the content you are looking for will show up.
- COST EFFECTIVE: It is more cost-effective to develop websites than mobile applications, to make it even easier, you can use WordPress to develop a website inexpensively and within a short period of time.
Starting a WordPress website will cost just $2.95 per month with Inmotion, and with a one-click WordPress installation, you are good to go.
There are many other advantages of Websites that makes them irreplaceable by mobile applications than these we have mentioned above.
DISADVANTAGES OF WEBSITES
Websites are not the best options in all cases, there are some disadvantages that websites have that make using apps a better option. Here are some of them;
- CAN’T WORK OFFLINE: Websites need an active internet connection to work fully. Although some pages may be cached, they will only offer a limited amount of functionality.
Even a very basic calculator on a website will need an internet connection to work. This is because all website resources (HTML, CSS, JS, files) are stored on a server.
- NATIVE DEVICE FEATURES: A website may access some of the native features of devices, but the browser cannot leverage most native device features effectively.
This will likely change with time but it is still a drawback for now.
- INCONVENIENCE: Many users just prefer tapping on an icon on their home screen than remembering an entire URL to access a website.
Some websites with amazing content may have a difficult URL to remember, as such a user may find it hard to remember the URL, hence the website may lose users.
However, this is been solved with the rise of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) which allows you to save a website to your home screen like a mobile app.
ADVANTAGES OF MOBILE APPS
Mobile applications have their own advantages that make them a great option for websites. Here are some of them;
- ACCESS NATIVE DEVICE FEATURES: Mobile applications are developed with full capability to access native smartphone features such as a Camera, GPS, Vibration, Contacts, etc.
Mobile applications take advantage of these native features to deliver a great user experience.
For example, when submitting files through a banking app, you don’t have to leave the app to take photos, within the app, you will have features to access the camera, take a photo and submit.
- CAN WORK OFFLINE: Some mobile applications are designed in such a way that they work without problems in the absence of an internet connection.
Most mobile games work offline without any noticeable difference.
The ability for mobile apps to work offline makes them desirable for users for some tasks. A user is more likely to install a calculator that they can use offline than access it on the website.
- EASY ACCESS: Once an app is installed on the phone, it can easily be accessed by just one tap on the app icon. This is very convenient, especially for apps that are regularly used.
You don’t have to always enter the URL to your favorite social media site in the browser, you can simply download the app and install it on your smartphone. This easy access is a huge time saver.
- GAMING: Mobile apps offers a great mobile gaming and interactive experience than websites.
Games take advantage of smartphone features to provide a great user experience that websites cannot provide in the browser.
- PUSH NOTIFICATIONS: Push notifications are another great feature that mobile apps provide to increase user engagement and serve the user better.
DISADVANTAGES OF MOBILE APPS
Mobile apps have their own disadvantages that make websites a better option. Here are some of the disadvantages of mobile apps;
- EXPENSIVE TO DEVELOP: Mobile apps can be very expensive to develop and maintain. If you are developing native apps, you will need a separate team of developers to work on one Android app and another one on the IOS App.
You can, however, use cross-platform frameworks such as React Native or Flutter to develop Android and IOS apps from one code base. This will reduce the cost significantly, learn more from our article PRACTICAL GUIDE TO MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT
- NEED TO BE INSTALLED: In order to use a mobile app, you will need to install it on your smartphone, contrast this with a website that needs no installation to be accessed.
The app will also require a certain amount of storage to be installed, without which you will run into the ugly error of NOT ENOUGH SPACE, UNINSTALL SOME APPS.
Since each platform (IOS, Android) has its own apps, some apps available for Android may not be available for IOS and vice versa, on the contrary, a website is available for all platforms.
- NOT EASILY UPDATED: Whenever a new update for the app is available, a user must manually update the app or they will not have access to a new feature. Some apps will not work if the user has not updated them.
A website on other hand is updated for all as soon as the changes go live.
From the advantages and disadvantages of the Mobile apps and websites that we have considered, it can clearly be seen that mobile apps will not replace websites because they are not designed to do so.
Mobile apps and websites have their own best use cases. There are times when a mobile app will do what a website cannot do and there are others times a website will be the best. If a platform is something you use nearly every day, the best is to install an app for it.