mobile design

What is the Difference Between a Mobile App and Website?

Many people are confused between an application and a mobile website.  The biggest differences are:

  • Mobile sites don’t need to be downloaded, while apps must be downloaded from iTunes or the Android Market.  Mobile websites run on the device’s mobile browser.
  • Mobile sites are available for anyone to see while apps have to be on the device to see them
  • Mobile websites are cheaper and easier to build while apps can be very labor intensive
  • Mobile websites do not need approval, while apps must be submitted to the various app market places and have to be approved
  • Mobile websites do not take advantage of the native handset applications like the camera, gyroscope and push notifications.  To use these, you would have to design an app. 
  • Mobile websites always load the latest version, while apps require the user to download updates.

New visitors or first-time customers usually will not download an application to their phone, while regular customers may find adding an app to their phones more convenient than trying to navigate the website on their phones.  Touching an icon may be easier on an app than using “fat fingers” to navigate links on a website.

A mobile website is usually fairly easy to design because it is a scaled down version of the normal website style sheet and functionality.  The right version of the website is displayed for the device based on the screen size and resolution of the device using “device detection software”.


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