Top 5 Reasons to Go Web App Over Native App

Published Oct, 28 2013

We get the “App vs. Website” question so often we literally couldn’t go a day longer without writing about it. The good news? A website can be an app, and there are numerous benefits to going in that direction.

Native apps are awesome

There’s a reason that “there’s an app for that” is a modern colloquialism. Many of the apps that you can download on your iPhone or Android phone are fantastic. These “native” apps, or those specific to an app store and are not live on the web, have a lot of advantages. They can be easily downloaded, work offline, and when they’re good enough, they can even be used to generate revenue.

On the flip side, they can be expensive to build, difficult to manage, require app store approvals, and are unavailable on the web. We are not against apps, but we want to point out the advantages of investing instead in a web-based application, particularly if you don’t already have a website.

What is a web-based application?

Basically, a web-based application is just a website that behaves like an app but operates online. It can also employ responsive design technology. This means that your web app will auto-format correctly to whatever device a person is using, helping ensure an optimal user experience.

When considering a new project, it’s important to figure out if a native app or a web app is right for you. Here our our top five reasons we typically advise going with a web app:

Top 5 Reasons to Go Web App Over Native App

1) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO means different things depending on who you ask, but what we can all likely agree on is that your business or organization should be findable on the web. If you don’t have a website, Google and other search engines won’t know you exist.

Chances are you have stakeholders beyond your app users, and a web application gives you an opportunity to reach them. People are searching for what you do, the solutions you provide, or the mission you represent. But if you only exist in an app store then they have no way to find you, let alone support your goals.

2) Business Development

It’s much harder to create long-term value for your partners if your organization doesn’t live on the web. There’s little if any value for them being stuck in an app. However, if you feature strategic partners and sponsors on your website, then they get the publicity and SEO benefit of being involved with you.

That goes both ways. If someone wants to share information about you, where do they get it? If they want to direct people to you, where do they point? By building out your web-based platform over time, both your app and business prospects improve.

3) Universal Accessibility

Do you want everyone to have access to your information quickly and without regard to whether they’re using an iPhone, an Android-based phone, a Windows tablet, or a circa-2003 Blackberry? With a web app, you’re available to anyone, anywhere, with no downloads necessary. All your users need to use your web app is the Internet, something most everyone with an app-capable phone or tablet already has access to.

Plus, it’s usually a challenge to get people to download something, but with a web app you can simply say, “Just Google us.” For frequent visits, mobile web browser bookmarks work great. Some savvy sites even include an “add to homescreen” option, to even more closely model benefits of a native app.

4) Updates

It can already take weeks to get approval in an app store even in the best of circumstances. Assuming you eventually do get an app approved, how do you update it? What if you have multiple apps in various app stores? I don’t even want to go there with you; it’s far too ugly. With a web app, an update in one place is an instant update in all places, including your website. One app to rule them all!

5) Cost

Unless maybe you’re at an Apple convention, chances are everyone in your audience doesn’t have an iPhone. In fact, the market share of Android-based phones dwarfs iPhone’s iOS platform. So what sort of app should you build? For basic functionality, you can expect at least a few thousand dollars in development costs for each app per app store. So to paraphrase George Harrison, if you really want everyone in your audience to have access to your app, it’s going to take time and money, a whole lot of precious time and money, to do it right, child. Or you could invest in a web app, instead. Because we like saying it, I’ll do so again—one app to rule them all!

Though there are surely more, those are our five top reasons we think web apps are the way to go, especially if you don’t currently have a website. They save time, money, and have so many additional benefits. So why not knock out two birds with one app and in the process set up your organization for future success?

We could talk about this stuff all day, and indeed often do. Please let us know if you have any questions! Contact us.