Mobile Websites vs. Smartphone Applications

11/01/2010 by Vanick Digital

Recent Nielsen statistics show that 28% of mobile consumers are using smartphones, and that this number is increasing rapidly. Savvy business owners see this trend as an opportunity to expand their market share, and to build trusting relationships with their existing customers.

There are two primary ways that a company can interact with the smartphone consumer world:

 1) Mobile websites
 2) Smartphones applications

Mobile websites are accessible from a smartphone's Internet browser without the need to install applications on the device. Although you can view them on a desktop browser, they are designed with the mobile user in mind (e.g., smaller images, less text, bigger buttons).

Smartphone applications must be downloaded from an application repository, such as the iPhone App Store, Android Market, or Zune Marketplace. These feature-rich applications are designed to work on a specific mobile device, and they are stored and processed locally on the device itself.

Should my company build a mobile website, or should we invest in a smartphone application?

It depends on your goals.

Are you trying to introduce yourself to potential customers?

A well-designed mobile website will work on all smartphone devices and will leave a good impression on your first-time visitors. By designing for a mobile device you are communicating that you care about the mobile user. In fact, you will lose potential customers if they are forced to zoom and pan across your website to read it clearly.

In contrast, smartphone applications are usually not a consideration for acquisition of new customers. The users are not vested in a relationship with your company yet. You have not communicated value to them yet. Thus, the mobile website is the best means of starting that relationship.

Are you trying to provide a valuable service to your existing customers?

Smartphone applications are an excellent means of providing your existing customers with convenient access to important business functions. When you make it easy for your customers to manage their account, make a payment, and receive support on their mobile devices, you will give them the impression of tailor fit solutions and features.

If your mobile website made a good first impression, then your smartphone application has the potential to seal the deal. A smartphone user may consider your customer support app to be an indication of quality customer support.


A well-designed mobile website attracts potential customers by promising value.

A well-designed smartphone application closes the sale by promising an excellent customer support experience.

Forward-thinking companies will plan for both to attract and retain their tech-savvy customers.


If you would like assistance in developing a customized, long-term mobile strategy for you and your customers, contact us.

Vanick Digital