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Mobile site or Mobile App?

by Randall Craig on November 28, 2014

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Mobile, Web

Tagged as: , , ,

At a certain point, every organization will ask the question about whether or not they need an App.  Putting aside whether there is a bona fide reason for investing in an app or not, there is a second related question that always gets asked: if we have a mobile (eg responsive) website, do we actually need a mobile app?

To help answer this question, we have assembled a brief summary of the advantages of each platform:

A mobile website:

  • Since the organization is investing in the website anyway, the marginal cost of a responsive mobile website is very low.
  • There is little or no “extra” maintenance, since anytime something is updated on the main website, the mobile site will automatically be updated.
  • Everyone has a browser on their smartphone: it’s just a matter of typing in the URL to bring up the mobile site.
  • There is no need for the user to go through the extra step of downloading the app.
  • No app development expense; no app support requirements.
  • No decision as to what platform to develop the app for:  iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry.  The mobile site works on all platforms.

A mobile app:

  • Easier to discover: billions of webpages, only several million apps.
  • Once downloaded, it has a coveted spot on the user’s device.
  • A dedicated user interface that isn’t constrained by the browser’s technical limits.
  • The ability to monetize through in-app purchases.
  • A closed system: Less user distraction from websites or third-party ads.
  • Most apps are not dependent on a data connection, and can run in a subway, remote mountaintop, or airplane.

This week’s action plan:  This week, we are making an offer: ask us, and we will provide three ideas for how mobile can be used by your organization strategically, and for balance, three reasons why you should give mobile a pass.  The goal is to start an open conversation about the could be.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

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Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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