Contributor: Alex Sharko, COO at Archer Software
Since the time Responsive Design and “Mobile First” hit the market, web technologies continued improving, and now they give developers the power to create even better user experience with modern web development tools.
There is a moment in the life cycle of every business when reaching the mobile market becomes a top-scale need. Whether the goal is extending the niche or bringing a new experience to end users, creating a mobile app business now should always start with this question: what solution should we go, Web App vs Native Mobile App?
We put together our experience in Mobile and Web development to help you make the best decision.
So what are the benefits of a Web App?
You will be able to:
Create broad outreach to your clients faster. Instead of separate Native Mobile App development for each platform, you develop a single code source application, which is a cross-platform solution.
Significantly lower the cost of changes. A natural outcome of the previous point. Instead of going crazy (by re-compiling libraries to C language, for instance) or trying to re-use the code between the different platforms' native apps, the only necessary changes are to HTML / JS code to enable all platforms to access new features without even re-compiling.
Also, because Cross-Platform, Web Development specialists are often easier to find, you can proceed more quickly with making the necessary changes.
Make the App SEO friendly. As with optimizing your normal website, you are free to optimize the mobile app pages for indexing and promotion by search engines, there is no difference between the need of optimization either website or mobile version.
Provide seamless integration with the rest of your online environment (such as your website). Advantages of Web App solutions - you will not require anything other than implementing the code to the same environment as your normal website. The same applies to integrating the current analytics, tracking and advertising tools that are tied to your site. Furthermore, if you have a good client-server solution with a clean API for your website, the development of a new app will cost even less and basically turn into the creation of a good-looking, front-end part designed for mobile UX.
Make auto-testing, debugging and deployment easy. Due to easy access to the code, you have all the power of web-dedicated auto-testing, deployment and debugging tools for building your development process.
Control the final code. Unlike with hybrid solutions (e. g. PhoneGap and others), you will have direct access to the final code that renders your application ready for end users.
Pros and Cons of Mobile Web Apps, in comparison with native mobile solutions, are:
Performance and UI issues on highly loaded or interactive apps. The biggest downside of the Mobile Web approach is potential UX “wackiness." Since, on the final end, it is a mobile device web browser that renders the application ready for your end user, your app is limited with the capabilities and constraints of the browsers that, for now, are much less sophisticated than their desktop “colleagues." One of the outcomes is that when interacting with GUI, sliding and tapping will never feel as slick as with a native app. This is the flip side of a fast and affordable development process.
Poor access to mobile device features (no or constrained access to camera, storage, etc). Comparing modern HTML5 (which gives you limited access to mobile device features such as the camera and location service) to a native app is like comparing a drop of water to a lake.
App is the same for all the platforms. While designing UI and UX, you should keep in mind that, unlike the native apps, Mobile Web Solution looks the same on any mobile device. Therefore, interface should be developed in a way to satisfy the users of any platform, “dancing” between the different UX conversions. This can be a difficult task, but our design team was able to achieve great results on such projects.
As with any tool set, each solution is good for its specific purpose. The cost of wrong decisions and wrong expectations is high, while the right choice can help your business save wads of cash and tons of time.
Check with us regarding the option of the Web Mobile approach! At Archer Software, we are happy to help you with your decision by using our vast expertise in both Native Mobile Development for Android, iOS, Win Phone and Blackberry, as well as Mobile Web Apps and we will gladly describe all advantages and disadvantages to you.