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Mobile App vs Mobile Site - which is better options for startup?

Mobile Development, Start up, Web development

Difference between Mobile App vs Mobile Website

Do you have an idea to create a project or a startup, but you do not know where to start? What is the difference between a mobile website and a mobile web app? At first glance, you may think that there is no difference between them, but this is not true. This article will tell you about the mobile app and mobile website’s main features — all insider information from leading mobile app developers.

What is the difference between a mobile website and a mobile web app?

There are two technical implementation areas for mobile devices: a mobile website vs a mobile app.


A mobile site is a specially created version of the site that users see when they visit your page using a browser installed on a smartphone or tablet. Unlike the site’s leading performance, the site’s version for mobile devices is adapted for viewing on small screens. The site may include interactive components using JavaScript, HTML5, new browser APIs. In this case, such an implementation is called a web application. Any option that works inside the browser of a mobile device will be called a website to avoid confusion.

A mobile app is a specially developed application for a specific mobile platform (iOS, Android, Windows Phone). Typically, an application is set in a high-level language and compiled into native OS code, giving maximum performance.

Mobile app features

A mobile app is a software product that is installed by users through stores or marketplaces. Its main feature is that development is carried out for each platform separately. It is due to the difference in operating systems’ functionality and is necessary for the correct app operation.

You will always be in touch with users with an app

You can send push notifications. If the user has not logged into the app for a long time and about an important event, the app will be reminded of itself. This function is not available on the site.

App appearance

Often sites are inferior to applications by an interface because they are much bulkier. Therefore, fitting them into a small screen is a rather complicated process. With the app, everything is more comfortable. Only the necessary information will appear on the screen, the buttons will be large enough, and you do not need to use a finger sharpener to get into it, as is the case with some sites.


It’s quite simple and easy for users to understand the app operation than the site work, especially with a complex structure. After all, each platform has its standard actions (for example, moving between application screens, calling up menus, etc.).

Personal setting

In any application, it is possible to memorize user actions and adapt the mobile app based on their interests, location, usage behavior, and more. For example, apps can also track user engagement and offer custom recommendations and updates to users. Furthermore, mobile apps can also identify the users’ location to provide geography-specific content such as special promotions or deals at a particular store location.

Work with the application without using the Internet

You can always use the mobile app, even offline. And this is a pretty weighty argument that sites do not have.

Integration with modern device technologies

In the mobile application, you can take advantage of modern devices’ benefits, such as a fingerprint scanner, camera, GPS, and other hardware features.

App customization for the user

Popular platforms can monitor their owner and know exactly when and what they are doing (puts on a charge, uses a specific application, does not use a smartphone, etc.). Thanks to this, you can always make changes and additions to the application by the time of its use.

Mobile website features

A mobile site is an adaptive version of a place for mobile devices, i.e., this is the same site, but which looks good and is easy to use on tablets and smartphones.

Simple use

Many users will use the site because of the ease of transition, no unnecessary actions to be taken. To use the app, you will need to install it. If you believe the statistics, then a relatively large percentage of users will not install the application, even going to the store or marketplace.

The mobile site looks correct on all devices regardless of the platform (Windows Phone, iOS, Android)

But the application will have to be developed separately for each.

The site is easy to update and all changes will immediately happen to the user

It will not work with mobile apps. For the update to appear, even after the release, it takes time to check.

The mobile site cost is always cheaper than an app

It is due to the complexity of development. You will have to build a mobile application for each platform separately.

Mobile app vs Mobile website statistics: which is more effective?

For many years there has been a debate, which is more effective: mobile applications or mobile sites? And in 2019, we finally got the answer: the average person spends 90% of their mobile time on apps vs. the mobile web.


Studies have shown that users value mobile apps for their high speed, good usability, additional features, and special offers.

The primary audiences who make purchases from smartphones and tablets are Millennials and mums.

However, websites are the primary source for attracting new users. After a person finds the right company and establishes a trusting relationship with it, he downloads the mobile application through which the primary transactions are made.

Mobile applications take a leading position in e-commerce in the number of transactions with consumers, according to Criteo’s research. People view applications 4.2 times more products per session than on mobile sites. And the conversion rate is three times higher for mobile applications compared to mobile-first sites.


Thanks to reminders, an icon on the screen, and mobile apps’ usability, 40.4% of all users start buying more from the company whose application they downloaded to their device. And 45.9% began to visit online brand stores more often. Such statistics explain that a mobile app provides an opportunity to build a loyal audience and increase the customer’s lifetime value. Compared to mobile websites that barely hold 40% of all visitors in the first few seconds, these are impressive results.

Other statistics show that the ever-growing number of available mobile apps for download creates conditions of high competition.

The market is so oversaturated that people are just tired of new and useless applications. Only every third user downloads a new application - over 65% download 0 applications per month. The percentage of uninstalling apps began to grow. Last year it reached the mark of 20%.

The mobile application market is being formed. Despite the high engagement rates, you will have to fight for each new user. And even if you manage to make users download your application, this will not guarantee that they will find it useful.

While a mobile website is much easier and cheaper to develop, website promotion is also much easier compared to a mobile application. You can get more new users for less money.

What to Develop First for Startup?

What to develop first a mobile website or mobile app depends on the type of startup and its goals. For a final decision, answer the following questions:

  1. What is the scope of your startup? If you are starting a new business related to the service sector, for example, order delivery, educational program, etc., then for the presentation of your services to a wide range of users you will need a site in the first place. If you are developing a product or platform, creating your technology’s infrastructure, such as Uber, wallet, dating, etc., then first build a mobile application.
  2. Who is your target audience? If your service or product is intended for mass use, they can start developing a mobile app. If your startup has a niche audience, it is better to opt for a mobile web site with which it will be easier to get to know the audience with your product and make first deals.
  3. How often will the user use or order your service or product? If your startup involves repeated orders or regular use, make a mobile application such as wallet, the marketplace, messenger, etc. If you do not expect frequent use or ordering of your product or service, create a website first. For example, if you start selling glasses, then the user probably will not want to install your application on his phone since the order will be made no more than one time in a few months, in which case a website is a more reasonable option.

Ultimately, your startup will need both a mobile-first website and a mobile application. But the decision about what to do first is an important strategic decision for marketing and attracting users, so you should think over or consult with specialists several times.

Have a project idea? Request a project or write to us in the mail, and we will give you our expert opinion, which will be of paramount importance to you.



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