Mobile websites are less expensive, easier to maintain and have greater reach. It’s no wonder more and more companies are choosing them over apps.

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Most forward thinking businesses are forming a mobile strategy.

It’s no secret why: Over a third of all US adults now own smartphones and mobile web traffic currently accounts for over 9% of all web traffic. These numbers are only anticipated to climb as mobile devices are well on their way to becoming the primary computing device for the majority of US adult consumers.

“My advice for clients is to invest in what’s next: Mobile websites.”

One of the challenges that businesses face when launching on the mobile web is choosing an appropriate technology – two primary choices exist: On one hand there are mobile websites designed to run in a standard mobile browser and deliver a mobile optimized version of a website via the internet.  On the other there are mobile apps, which are software applications downloaded from the Internet that run on a mobile device and access the web for data.

Several years ago, along with the introduction of the iPhone, Steve Jobs and Apple brought us the wonderful world of Apps, and that in itself was enough to make them popular. Add to that slow connection speeds for mobile web and limited functionality that existed at that time and it’s no wonder Apps took over – they were the only way to deliver a highly functional (and visual) user experience on a mobile device.

But times are changing.

Today, mobile users experience lightning fast connection speeds, and mobile web developers are empowered with advanced programming options that make it possible to deliver an exceptional experience via a standard mobile web browser. But those aren’t the only reasons to choose mobile web over app development. Here’s 7 more:

  1. Mobile websites are less expensive. The average cost of development for a mobile App is $30K. To develop an App to serve all the major platforms (iPhone, Android, Blackberry) you must develop three different versions ($30K x 3 = $90K) since they are not compatible with one another.Compare that development cost to the development fee for a standard mobile website (also $30K) and it’s easy to see that a mobile website is the most affordable option.
  2. Mobile websites reach more people. Mobile websites are platform independent and run in a standard mobile web browser. They are immediately accessible across all platforms and can be easily, shared with a link. Apps are platform specific and reach a much smaller percentage of the mobile web – exclusive to their specific audience.
  3. Mobile websites are available instantly. On the mobile web, just as in life, convenience is everything. Unlike apps, mobile websites are available instantly via the internet on all devices running a mobile web browser. Apps must first be downloaded to your device before running – this can take anywhere from one to several minutes to execute and creates a barrier between the app user and the information they’re seeking.
  4. Mobile websites are easier to maintain. With an app you have to manage a development and update cycle that is completely separate from your standard website workflow.  With a mobile website, web content can be drawn seamlessly from the same content management system that powers your company website, allowing for consolidated management and maintenance of your mobile site that is integrated with your other current marketing activities.
  5. Mobile websites have a longer shelf life. Statistics show that the average shelf life of an app is not very long (often less than 30 days). Due to the fact that most companies don’t think about how to make their app truly unique or useful, they end up launching a glorified mobile website in an app platform, and the novelty of that for their very limited audience wears off quickly. After the first month less than 5% of app downloaders ever open it again. Mobile websites, in contrast, are there on demand. Constantly up to date, and available for users to return to them whenever they have interest or need.
  6. Mobile websites are further along in the sales cycle. Most companies develop apps to help them grow business.  Truth is, however, that a website is typically the last stop in the conversion funnel before contacting your company or buying your product/service.  Apps become an unnecessary step (barrier) along the path to your website.  If you’re successful with your app, your visitor will go to your website, then contact you. Much easier would be to take them directly to your mobile website and accelerate the sale.
  7. Mobile websites are the future. Just like the Interactive CD-ROMs of the 90’s, apps have a place.  However in the same way those CD-ROMs disappeared as technology and connection speeds made it possible to deliver the same experience on the web, apps will begin to disappear as well. In fact, it’s already happening.

My advice for clients is to invest in what’s next: Mobile websites. They are centralized, on demand solutions that are constantly up to date, run perfectly in any standard mobile web browser, without special downloads, via the Internet, on all platforms.

It’s the system we evolved to with desktop computing. It’s the system we’ll evolve to again with mobile computing. It’s the future.

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