Is a Mobile Site Enough for Your Business or Should You Have an App?
When it comes to how people surf the web, the use of mobile devices is rapidly climbing compared to desktops. Businesses have taken note and are putting more resources toward creating a mobile presence.
Responsive web design is the way to go for a mobile version of a business’s website. The premise is sound: Flexible layouts respond to a device’s screen size, platform, and orientation, giving each user the optimal experience, regardless of how your site is being accessed. Because a customized design doesn’t have to be created for each possible device being used, responsive web design is a cost-effective method to reach your whole mobile audience—that is, provided you do it right.
Using media queries is still fairly new and can present a challenge to designers and developers. When done wrong or incompletely, it can make users feel like the mobile site was just an afterthought, and they can be discouraged from visiting again. Prime instances are when the site is not truly scalable and images are not fluid, too tiny, or end up being cropped; when functionality isn’t properly reimagined for mobile, leaving out a localized search option or the ability to call a number by tapping it, for example; and—this is a big one—when rather than figuring out how to incorporate features for different screens, that content is simply left out.
A clean, easy-to-navigate mobile site that doesn’t cram in too many features but still provides content mobile users need will open up your business to a new crowd. It’s worth the time and cost of creating a mobile site to show your customers that your business’s information and services can be accessed anywhere.
But is it worth it to go one step further—by creating an app? Apps require more investment and new marketing channels, but they could bring in new customers or help you manage the ones you have. There are a few things to consider when determining whether an app would benefit your business.
If you already have a loyal customer base, an app could encourage them to do more business with you. A casual user may use your mobile site to look up business hours or a phone number, but an established customer likely would appreciate the option to bypass accessing a mobile site and simply open your app instead.
An app helps you provide good customer service. It opens new channels of communication with users and lets you deliver responses and support immediately and efficiently. Customers get instant confirmation and results from an app.
Collecting user feedback and data is also simplified with an app. You can quickly learn what products and services people are using, what users like and dislike, and even demographics such as customers’ locations, ages, and spending habits, all of which can help with communications and promotions.
When do you think a business should create an app? When is it just not worth it? What’s been your experience with mobile sites and apps for businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments below.