The issue of choice between mobile and web applications is quite a headache for many business owners. Both variants are popular, and each of them has its pros and cons. On the whole, to make the right choice isn’t so difficult as it seems to be.
To define whether you should choose custom web application development for your project, or probably mobile application development will be the best solution, you should consider several criteria such as goals you want to achieve (and functions an application must have), your target audience and budget.
Before considering mobile and web applications development we’ll give you the definition of a web application.
A web application is a client-server software application (client is a browser, the server is a web server), in which all data is stored on the server, and exchanged over the network. From the notion, we see that in order to use web application user needs a constant internet connection.
One of the key characteristics of a web app is their scalability: a lot of people can use it simultaneously while you may have only one server. Another advantage of custom web applications development is the fact that users don’t depend on an operating system, and that’s why web apps support cross-platform compatibility.
A weak point of a client-server solution is its dependence on the Internet connection. If a user installs a mobile application from application shop (Google Play, App Store), he can use it offline (of course there are many exceptions), which is impossible in web applications – client always needs Internet access in order to use them.
Also, with an expensive Internet connection, it can cost for a user a pretty penny.
A disadvantage of web applications is payment for using them. Generally, a user needs to make it monthly (most frequently it’s a small amount). Another option is making payments on the basis of produced operations.
If a user is late with a payment, the access to a web application is closed. Thus a client “is bound” to the supplier: he can’t refuse his services (or just not to pay) and at the same time continue using a web application. Sometimes a web app is offered for free, but for the access to some premium functions, you need to pay.
One of the absolute advantages of custom web applications development is the fact that a user doesn’t need to install web apps on a smartphone. It means that they don’t occupy any memory on a device (only a little cache) in comparison with mobile applications.
However, it should be noted that in terms of functionality mobile applications development gives more opportunities than web applications development, but, on the other hand, it usually requires more time and money.
So, a web application can be a good choice for your project, especially if you need something to be not very complicated and not require complex functionality, f.e. news feed.
We should also remember that a mobile app is practically always an addition to a web application meaning that a company starts (first of all) with custom web development, and only then (after the main thing is done) moves to mobile application development (read our article about mobile apps for business).
One of the key advantages of custom web applications development is the fact that they always can be easily updated, at any time, and it doesn’t cause any difficulties: after that, a new version of a web app will be available to all users.
Mobile applications have another situation: after updating (f.e. design), making some changes and improvements, developing new functions you receive a new version needed to be downloaded by users from application stores (again).
However, web app promotion often requires significant expenses, though the very custom web applications development almost always is cheaper than mobile applications development (for similar functionality).
The bottom line is that application shops are themselves good advertising, in which a user, searching for an app to install, looks through different options, compares testimonials, product’s rating, and also sees the number of downloads. Certainly, there is a disadvantage: if an application isn’t good and effective, the testimonials also won’t be good.
Marketing is one of the most important stages: before starting mobile application development, you should make the target audience and competitor analyses, and conduct market research. The idea must be relevant and your product – meet customers needs and wants, be easy-to-use and so on.
Then you will receive good testimonials, a lot of downloads and high rating: application stores themselves will become the best advertising for you. So, doing everything (we say primarily about marketing) right, you’ll get success and profit.
At the same time, a web application promotion often requires significant expenses for promotion, and frequently money, saved for custom web development, go to marketing.
A key point is target audience: people generally visit application stores exactly to download an app with necessary functions, and it’s a matter of choice: what will attract their attention, which product has better testimonials and higher rating etc.
On the contrary, for the success of a web application you often need to invest heavily in its promotion (with mobile apps too, but not that much, there is a question of the right approach to mobile applications development).
You can be sure you won’t download viruses as application shops (especially App Store) always carefully check everything before making the app available for installing, and it’s another advantage of mobile applications development (for users).
Also, mobile applications have access to device storage (and to many other things), unlike web apps asking for these certain rights for downloading.
Another advantage of mobile applications development is that mobile apps allow to constantly get in touch with your customers. You (not them) establish contact and maintain it.
You can send your clients useful information (about special offers, new services, discounts), push-notifications, congratulate on holidays and so on, – everything to boost your sales and provide your customers with excellent services.
Now let’s summarize and make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of custom web applications development.
Good sides of web apps:
- Web applications don’t require to be installed on your smartphone (unlike mobile apps), so they obviously don’t require any free space.
- Only browser and Internet are required – a user doesn’t need to install special software to use the app.
- Custom web applications development are commonly cheaper than mobile apps creation.
- Automatic updates: a new version becomes available to all users immediately after making all necessary changes.
Some weak points of web applications:
- Custom web applications development hasn’t such great and wide possibilities as native mobile applications development.
- Payment – generally it’s made on a monthly basis or based operations. Also there are some free web applications, but user has to pay for some functions (premium).
- Possible virus attacks, or that user’s personal data will be leaked.
- Users can’t work offline, constant internet access is required.
You can also learn more about which programming language is best for your web application in our blog post – Java vs PHP face-to-face comparison.
Now we’ll move to native mobile apps, providing you with a list of the pros and cons of mobile applications development:
- Great possibilities in the development of functionality, and a final result has higher quality and convenience for users (having similar functionality comparing with custom web development).
- Users can work offline as there is no dependence on the Internet (except for some cases when, f.e., access to some functions of the app requires the Internet).
- Mobile apps are much better optimized for mobile devices.
- Users don’t need to download all the data, again and again, every time, as when working with a web application. Even if your native application requires a constant internet connection, most of the required resources are already on your phone.
- Mobile apps allow to get in touch with your clients – you can constantly send them information about special offers, discounts, news and so on, to make your clients interested in your services and maintain contact with them.
Disadvantages of mobile apps:
- Mobile applications development process usually takes more time and money than web applications development.
- If there are some difficulties and bugs related to mobile apps, users can give bad feedback (testimonials) within application stores.
As you can see, mobile applications development, as well as custom web applications development, has its pros and cons, and sometimes the choice is pretty tough. We hope that our post will help you define the best option for your project.
If the most effective solution for you is mobile app development (f.e., if you’ve already had a web application), you need to choose between cross-platform application development and native mobile app development.
Our article about the pros and cons of native mobile app development and cross-platform application development and their detailed comparison will help you make the right choice.
Smartum Pro provides mobile applications development services. We offer you cross-platform application development, as well as native mobile app development and, are always ready to help you define the best solution for your project.
Also, we provide you with Java web applications development services. Working with cutting-edge technologies, and also skilled and experienced developers team allows us to create products of the highest quality.