Business owners often complain that technology moves too fast. Many have to juggle not only their business operations, but also keep up with rapid changes in this Internet economy. Mobile web browsing is one of the most dominant trends right now, with many web users having already switched to mobile devices to do most of their online browsing. Businesses need to adapt to such user behaviors or else they risk shutting out a large market, lowering conversion rates, and being unable to compete with their tech-savvy competitors.
For simplicity, let’s eliminate one of our options completely - we’re not even going to talk about “mobile websites.” A mobile website today should be a responsive website. These terms should be synonymous. What’s the difference? Well, the former requires redesigning your whole website again (into a mobile format), and the latter requires nothing, because your website ‘magically’ does it for you. This is known as the responsive architecture.
Some businesses still believe they need 2 websites: a normal one and a mobile one. You only need one website – a responsive website!
A proper website in 2015, should be responsive by now, which means it is automatically viewable on all mobile devices. With rare exceptions, there should be no debate about whether a business should build a separate dedicated mobile site or reprogram their main website into a responsive framework. Responsive is the way to go.
It’s easy to get carried away with all the trends, especially now that “app” is a common household term. For clarification, a mobile app is a piece of software designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices. Apps are great for relatively complicated websites with advanced functions, as long as the business has enough resources, time and money to develop and maintain an independent application.
There’s no question that some companies need mobile apps, and the most popular websites in the world almost all offer some form of mobile app. For example, eBay has an app for streamlined shopping and bidding (although most online shopping can be done easily without an app), Freshbooks has an app for accounting, and YouTube has an app for better user experience when showcasing videos.
Remember, with an app you are requesting your mobile website visitors to download a program to their mobile device. You need to have established a solid value proposition and online reputation to convince your audience that your app is worthwhile.
In order to determine if you need an app, first find out whether all your website functions can transition smoothly into a responsive framework or would it need to access the devices native data and capabilities? An app is not a replacement for a website, but rather it’s a supplement.
Sometimes businesses rush into the development of technologies that have faster and cheaper alternatives that also offer a far better return on investment. In most cases, a responsive website will meet all the objectives and mobile technology needs of small to medium businesses. No app required.