We are often asked the difference between a phone app and a mobile website. Though they are both viewable via a smartphone, they are very different in coding and concept. A mobile website is how your website look on a mobile device. In the “old days”, a website needed two versions: One for desktop computers and one for mobile devices. Now, most sites have code that adjusts the design based on the device used to view it. It is preferable to the old way and you gain bonus points with Google for ranking if your site is mobile responsive.
A phone app (short for application) requires the user to download the program on their phone first in order to use it. Some apps are free while other require a fee (one-time or recurring). Most peopl will use the Apple Store or Android Market to download an app.
With an app, you actually download the content which can then be viewed or used without an Internet connection. Because apps are downloaded, they cannot be shared with other users. A web page could be shared on Facebook for instance. An app cannot.
Apps can be very useful if it is built for a game or there is great need for interactivity between the app and the user. It is also needed if the application needs to be taken on the road. Example: GPS based like ride-share apps. The phone apps are very much about the user experience while a website is more about information and marketing. For most of our clients, the investment in a phone app is not needed. Their website can do everything it needs to do for them.
Remember too that an app is an added development cost unrelated to the website and, often times, it requires a different team to create it.
Still confused? Give us a call at 707-794-9999 PST and we will be happy to discuss your options based on your unique situation.