Mobile this mobile that. The term is attached to everything these days and it can get confusing for people to understand what it means when someone says mobile “whatever”. The most common mobile “something” terms we are going to tackle today are mobile website, mobile app and mobile web app.
When we say mobile website we are talking about a website that has been designed to function well on the small screens of today’s mobile technology, like cell phones. This could be an entirely separate site which loads when it detects a mobile device or it can be a dynamic site that scales and rearranges content based on screen size. When designing a website we prefer to go the dynamic route. This allows the content creators, the client, to only have to create that content once. The site will then automatically configure itself to work well on whatever device is viewing it. This is also know as a mobile optimized website.
Also known as a native application, a mobile app is an application that takes advantage of specific functions or capabilities of the device it was created for. Primary functions of the app should not require internet access and physically exist on the phone. There are all kinds of cool things you could have an app do, just explore your phone’s app store to get an idea. Some of the more popular apps right now utilize your phones camera and geolocation data. A native app is a great way to offer value to your customers.
Mobile Web App
A mobile web app is a combination of a mobile website and a mobile application. It is created just like a website but designed to look like a native app and offer some sort of functionality. It exists on a server rather than the phone so internet access is required for the web app to load. The functionality is also limited since it does not have direct access to all the capabilities of your phone. To access the web app your end user will have to open their internet browser and save a link.
All three of these tools have a purpose and are usually most effective when used in some combination of mobile website and app. With mobile devices becoming a primary source of web traffic, is your website optimized for mobile devices? Do you have an app? If you could create any app in the world, what would it do? Share with us in the comments.