Mobile Site or Mobile App?

By now we all know that the future of the web is mobile. More and more consumers access data and information via their smartphone, tablets or some other portable device. Therefore, agencies and other businesses also have to be cognizant of the mobile environment. The link to the article below was posted yesterday posing the question: Which is Better Mobile Apps or Mobile Sites? Take some time to check it out and see what you think. This has become a very timely topic within BIT and within state government. Whichever one your agency chooses, most likely depends on the amount of time and dedicated resources you have along with your specific customer and business needs.

BIT recently decided on the mobile site option and we are currently in the process of testing the site on a variety of mobile devices in house. Some other considerations to keep in mind when determining which one is best for your customer and business needs include the following:

1. A mobile site can be complex, but certainly doable. Consider the fact that there are a wide variety of mobile devices currently on the market and there are different platforms like Windows 7 and Windows 8 that they operate on. Functionality and appearance are key on these devices.

2. The trick is not to create new content when developing a mobile site. Simply modify the CSS (style sheets) to display or hide certain areas of the original website. Keep in mind that the content must remain the same. The look and appearance should be different.  

3. Allow for portrait and landscape modes as well as automatic rotations and scalability with vector files for the graphics when creating a mobile site. Something that looks great on your handheld device, may look terrible on your tablet.

4. Mobile sites should flow well and feel native to both handheld, tablet or other portable devices.

5. Typically it is cheaper to build a mobile site, and you can avoid the approval hassles and time constraints often experienced when constructing a mobile app.

6. When creating a mobile app, you are trying to provide the users with specific functionality. 

7. A mobile app is faster, more interactive and can integrate with all kinds of other phone features. The app must be installed to be of any use. One big advantage of native apps, is the possibility of offline usage as some users may want the ability to use an app without requiring a connection to the Internet.

8. Mobile apps require completely different programming language from mobile sites; i.e. Application Programming Interface or API through the Apple Developer Program or the Android Developer Toolkit. 

9. Studies have shown users prefer mobile sites for information searching and mobile apps for managing data, navigation and connecting with others. 

10. Ultimately, it comes down to how customers and other users are going to use your content.

***Special thanks to Miguel Penaranda for your contributions, thoughts and ideas.

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