Native Mobile Application or Web App? Make the Right Decision for YOUR Business 

Your business management team has finally decided to create an application that complies with mobile standards and will attract more customers. The only remaining question is whether to go with a native mobile application or to create a mobile web application. In other words, before you start to plan and design, you’ll have to decide whether you want a software application that will provide an intuitive application UI design and user experience for desktops, laptops and smart phones via respective browsers on those devices, or whether you want to design a native mobile application that will function on a particular native mobile platform, e.g., IOS, Android or Blackberry.

First, let’s look at the benefits to each approach:

Mobile Applications

  1. Personalized Ux to fit user device and screen size
  2. Access to online and offline data
  3. Access to native mobile platform features
  4. Customer/user satisfaction
  5. Provides unique branding and customer experience
  6. Anticipate and provide new features
  7. Sales opportunities in third-party app stores

Web Applications

  1. Provides reasonable user interaction on any device
  2. Lower development costs
  3. Designed to comply with web standards and regulations
  4. Easy to update content
  5. Easy application support

Now, let’s consider the possible issues and trade-offs to each approach:

Mobile Applications

  1. Versioning and upgrade timing and control
  2. Control of future device releases, screen sizes etc.
  3. Support for multiple versions
  4. Development for each native platform

Web Applications

  1. Future issues regarding internet ‘fast lanes’ and performance
  2. Connection downtime and accessibility
  3. Subject to unanticipated web guidelines

As you can see, your business must consider both the benefits and the trade-offs for each development technique before making a decision. In order to make the right decision, it is important for the enterprise to fully articulate its user and/or customer requirements. How and when the consumer or business user will interact with the application is an important consideration as is the need for specific features and functionality and the complexity of the application.

If you expect your users or customers to engage with your application using a variety of devices and screen sizes, you may wish to design a mobile web application using responsive web design or adaptive web design techniques in order to ensure that your users can easily navigate and complete tasks. If your application developers are designing an application for users to access through a corporate portal to complete specific and standardized processes like updating project timelines or sales data, a web application might better serve your business needs.

On the other hand, if user experience is extremely important, you want users to feel at home using their favorite smart phone, or your application needs access to native features of mobile platforms, and your budget permits application development, maintenance and support for each native platform, you should opt for native mobile apps option.

The bottom line is this: In order to make the best, most cost-effective decision, and provide an application that is suitable for mobile access, you must first understand the benefits and trade-offs of native mobile applications versus mobile web applications. Then compare these factors to the business and customer, or user, requirements to select the best application development option for your business needs.

Sahil Patel — An engineer and a software architect, involved with hands-on project management and delivery with more than 12 years of experience in the industry.

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