Mobile site or mobile app: Which option must businesses offer first?

Albert Vang is a developer with PLAVEB and has worked on a number of Apps Development projects.

The latest in the series of business decisions is the debate whether to build a mobile site first or a mobile app. It is on the other hand a latent fact that both choices are pretty much the need of every business under the sun.

The burning question here is which choice must businesses develop first and why so as to satisfy its large user base. The answer lies in the fact that what businesses are looking to accomplish with the deployment and distribution of these options.

Let us take a look at the debate as to which option must businesses offer first to its customers:

Differences between a mobile site and a mobile app

Let’s take a look at the benefits of building a mobile site for your business:

  • A mobile website has a static user interface that enables simple navigation as compared to a mobile app with an interactive user interface
  • Without a proper internet connection a mobile site is useless however a mobile app can even function offline
  • User can get an easy access to the site as compared to a mobile app which requires installation
  • In terms of speed a mobile app is much faster than a mobile site
  • It is much cheaper to develop a mobile site than to build a mobile app

Which one to build first?

To answer this question let us look into the various business aspects that must be taken into account:


As a business, you must plan out the main objective for each of the two technologies you wish to invest in. Both of them come with different challenges and purposes. Take all your business requirements into consideration before launching a mobile site or a mobile app. Clearly state the purpose of your business and then plan about the development and delivery of the two technologies.

Think about your audience

Gather in-depth information about your users like their age, income, location, and other preferences which will influence your business. Consider your user behaviour before distributing a mobile site or a mobile app amongst them. This is so because, users who are really serious about your business will search for related business apps, download it and start using; while customers who are not so technologically oriented will prefer sticking to a mobile site.

For instance, some users prefer the Facebook app over the Facebook site as per their usage. Thus make sure to know your audience well in advance and their actual requirement of the service being offered.

Customers’ engagement with a mobile app is longer than a mobile site hence, look into the various aspects of increased brand engagement and how it can add value to your business. Once clear, think about which technology must be offered first to your audience.

Think about user experience

Do not under-estimate the direct and indirect benefits of offering enhanced user experiences to your customers.  Determine how you want to interact with your users, do you want to offer them an engaging platform by providing a graphical interface with an app or do you wish to just keep the interaction platonic and let them simply browse through your site?

The choice is clearly yours to decide which interface needs to be developed first, for your users. Moreover, bandwidth plays a major role in leveraging improved user experiences to your users. A mobile site is limited by bandwidth and can lag in performance as opposite to a mobile app which can offer robust user experiences while providing superior graphics and videos.

Development, usage and maintenance

A mobile website is comparatively easy to develop and will cost must lesser unlike a mobile app. Whereas, in the development of apps you might have to choose between exclusive programming, software development and cross-platform solutions.

In addition, you will have to look into building a paid or a free version of your app both offering different user experiences. A mobile site is built once and it can run on multiple devices, while a mobile app is built as per individual devices and operating systems and may need different developers for separate devices. A mobile site does not require any installation whereas a mobile app has to be downloaded from an app store or from the web.

It is relatively easier to maintain a site as changes made once are immediately reflected on all devices; in case of a mobile app making changes takes long as they have to go through a submission process (iTunes store). A mobile site is worthless without a steady internet connection while a mobile app can be run offline. Look for integration options of the two technologies before deciding which one to go for first. Apps have integrated features like geolocation, camera, phone directory, while mobile sites are plain user interface.  In this sense, choose the more intuitive and smart option to build first for your business.

The solution

Of course, it is a no-brainer to develop both the solutions for your business. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, you must have a mobile site and a mobile app available to cater faster solutions to a wide user base. However, create a mobile site first followed by mobile app. Access user traffic on your site and create algorithmic data. Based on such results build an interactive mobile app and keep these users engaged to drive higher ROIs.

Gartner predicts that 1 billion Smartphones will be sold in 2014 – about double the number of PCs it expects will be sold that year. Thus it is advisable to build the mobile site followed by the mobile app to offer unique on-the-go solutions to your users.

Albert Vang works for PLAVEB, a Custom Mobile Website Development Company located in Los Angeles. He loves to research on mobile technology specifically on Custom Mobile Application Development. He also enjoys reading biographies in his spare time.

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