Mobile App or Mobile-Friendly Website?

Posted Jan 26th, 2016

app mobile-friendly
What is the best way to make your business visible in today’s mobile world?
What is most appropriate mobile strategy?
We’ll show you pros and cons of both apps and mobile-friendly websites if you keep on reading!

Mobile-friendly Websites

Example: Responsive Design

Being on the world wide web and being found by users who may become potential customers is crucial in today’s digitized economy. However, not all companies are aware of the needs of the internet-affine users.

A Clutch survey found that currently, only 74% of small businesses have a website, while 9% stated that they have planned to build a website in the coming years, a survey from says. Only 56% of those websites have a mobile-friendly or responsive design.

Having a website and having a mobile-friendly, responsive website, in particular, should be at priority for every business that wants to establish itself in the digital economy, before developing a mobile app.

“Consumers are using mobile apps to research locations to shop, eat, play and relax – and it’s up to businesses to be where their audience is. Most businesses understand that a mobile-friendly or responsive website is imperative to their business, but many still lag behind adopting a mobile app strategy.”

– Krista McLandress, AppsBuilder, says.

One clear advantage of a mobile-friendly website compared to an app is definitely cost: don’t get me wrong, you still have to do some testing, but a webpage does not get so many updates that need to be tested constantly.

Another positive aspect is that you’ll be saving your users’ valuable space on their devices. You can suggest adding your website to the home screen of your users’ devices: it will look just like an app, but without taking up space. You’ll be visible, at their fingertips and “in their way” when scrolling through the home screens. Why not use mobile browsers build-in options to build brand awareness?

One important downside of not having an app is user data: if users do not or do not have to log-in to view your content, you’ll be collecting less user-specific data compared to an app in which a log-in might be required. However, you can create incentives for users to log-in to your websites, e.g. by giving discounts or providing further relevant content.

If you don’t have a website…

What you have to decide upfront if you don’t already have a website, is if you want to make your webpage with a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes, or if you just want to add a mobile website to your main website, to which mobile devices will be redirected automatically.

If you already have a website…

If you already have an older website, you will probably need to redesign and recode it to make its design responsive.

If you decide to make a mobile website, your tablet users might not be always happy, because they will be redirected to the mobile website that might look funny, with everything being too big for a tablet screen.

Mobile Apps

At a first glance, apps offer a wide range of pros, starting with their quick and easy access, once installed on a device. People will see your app’s icon when searching for other apps.

Some apps make it possible to view the content offline: even though we have signal nearly everywhere, it’s nice not have to download the same content over and over again.

When using an app, your user might have a login option. If your app is an e-commerce app, you can use a loyalty program to keep customers buying from you. There are many different kinds of loyalty programs: you can have app-only loyalty programs that will get your customers special offers or discounts when buying something through the app; or the customers can collect points when buying something with the app or in a shop using their member card/virtual member card, leading to discounts or gifts.

Apps allow users to buy things, trips, plane tickets or book restaurants whenever they have a little time, without typing a URL or logging in anywhere, because the app has already all the information it needs to make the app user happy.

Apps can be used to build brand awareness and keep the device owner company just by being installed on a customer’s device or notify the user with push notifications with reminders or offers.

Furthermore, if you have an app and your competitors don’t, you may be perceived as avant-garde, keeping up with the always-faster changing and evolving the world we live in today. That might score plus-points with super-techy customers.

Only 15% of small businesses have a mobile app. The top reasons why they have an app is: 76% is to improve their customer service, while 37% have an app to increase sales and another 35% have an app to be competitive in the market

There is one more thing speaking in favor of having an app: you can monitor and collect data through the app, have a full overview of what users do when using your app, and get specific information about the different user groups.

Of course, if there are pros, there are also cons: app development tends to be pricey and time-consuming.

Every new release needs to tested on a lot of devices.

One of the most difficult things when developing a mobile app is deciding if to develop an Android app, an iOS app or a Windows Phone app, or for all of the mentioned ones. Every one of these platforms has many different OS versions that need to be taken into consideration.

This means a lot of testing, because besides of the different OSs and OS versions, there is a massive device fragmentation: until 2015, more than 24.000 different devices have been seen.

An additional challenge related to the number of different devices available on the market are the various different screen sizes.

In this context, automated testing can be helpful. Mobile device cloud services, like TestObject, can help you test on a wide range of devices while keeping testing costs affordable.

In some cases, you will need to develop separate apps for smart phones and for tablets: phones are mostly used in portrait mode, while tablets are more often used in landscape mode, so make sure to test that, too, if you don’t develop separate apps.

After having created the “perfect” app and having tested on the majority of devices, you might be ready to publish your app.

You still need to keep in mind that testing is never really over: with every minor update, EVERYTHING needs to be tested. And you definitely need to listen to your users by reading all the comments on the different app stores where you decided to publish your app. A user might ask for more features, write if something is wrong with the app, i.e. if they found a bug, you didn’t.

Customer support and the maintenance are maybe the most time-consuming things when thinking about developing a mobile app.

If your list of pros is longer than your list of cons, than you probably should develop a mobile app!

“Mobile-friendly website vs. app – in a nutshell”

So, as you see, having an app or a website which is “mobile friendly” are different things, but your website should have a responsive design, even if you do want to develop an app.

With that being said, you should evaluate both options. It all comes down to time, resources and budget. If you still think that having an app is what your business needs, don’t forget that you also need a mobile friendly website.

TestObject allows you to test both: you can test your apps extensively with both automated and manual testing, or you can test your responsive design on all our devices and see how your website looks in 4 different browsers (Chrome, Opera, Dolphin and Firefox) on Android and in Safari on iOS.

If you’re still not convinced that being mobile device friendly with either a mobile-friendly website or an app, read about “How Smartphones and Mobile Internet Have Changed Our Lives“!

Written by

Ely Hechtel


Mobile TestingApp Testing