Applications are everywhere these days. We find them on our desktops, websites, TV’s, mobile phones and even watches! More than ever we access information and use applications on these devices. As a result we’ve come across many confused entrepreneurs trying to figure out the correct approach to reach their mobile customers. If you’re not sure if you need a mobile app or a mobile friendly website, this quick guide will help you decide which strategy is best for you.

An App or a Mobile Website?

When deciding whether to build a mobile app or a mobile website the most appropriate choice really depends on your end goals. If your goal is to offer mobile friendly content to the widest possible audience then a mobile website is probably the way to go. A mobile website should be considered your first step in developing a mobile web presence. A mobile app is most useful for developing an application for a very specific purpose that cannot be effectively accomplished via a web browser.

Do you need to utilize Mobile Device capabilities?

Websites have a restricted set of capabilities in contrast to mobile applications. These restrictions are enforced by the browser's limited access to the mobile operating system features. Recent developments with mobile browsers have exposed more device capabilities such as the camera, geolocation, and others.

Despite these advancements, support for advanced functionality via mobile browser is still quite limited. For example, media capture, contacts, SMS and streaming remains largely unsupported in various mobile browsers. Because of limitations like these of mobile browsers you may be compelled to evaluate a mobile application.

Do you have offline users?

There are many circumstances when you may need an application to continue functioning even when Internet access is limited or unavailable. On-site technicians may be in a basement that is blocking their cell service or users may be on a long airplane ride. The important questions to answer are: can the application data be initially cached or can data be synchronized later when Internet access is available. Mobile apps give your users the option of continuing to function even when the Internet is unavailable. Beyond these capabilities, a Mobile App can hold exceptionally large amounts of information and provide extraordinary speed of function, not even possible over most internet connections. Mobile Apps also provide for saving of user specific work directly on their device.

Do you want to distribute and/or sell your application on the app stores?

App Stores open up new venues and exposure to promote, distribute and sell your utility and content worldwide.