If you run a business and you want to connect with a greater number of customers more readily, what’s the best thing you can do?
The perceived wisdom on this matter is to invest in a mobile business website. That makes perfect sense when you consider that mobile is the fastest growing sector of internet marketing, and now accounts for 10% of global internet usage worldwide. That figure, incidentally, has also doubled over the last 18 months, according to The Next Web. However, a newly-released study may force businesses to think again, or at least reassess their priorities.
The study, by Compuware Corporation, found that the majority of mobile device users prefer mobile apps over mobile websites. The reason for this is simple. Users found mobile apps easier to use, easier to navigate and far more convenient. The moral, if you can call it that is that it’s no longer sufficient for businesses who want to attract the largest roving audiences to have their websites optimised for mobile browsing: you now need to give potential customers the option to access your site via mobile app.
What’s the difference between a mobile website and a mobile app?
A mobile website is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages which are linked together and accessed over the Internet via Wi-Fi, or 3G or 4G networks. What distinguishes a mobile website from a standard site is its design: mobiles sites are designed for the small screen. However, they can still display text content, data, images and video, and also access mobile-specific features, like click-to-call and location-based mapping.
By contrast, mobile apps are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on mobile devices, rather than being rendered within a browser. Users visit device-specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, Android Market or Blackberry App World to find and download apps for a given operating system. The app may pull content and data from the Internet, similar to a website. Or it may download the content so it can be accessed without an Internet connection.
What did the Compuware Corporation study find?
The study surveyed mobile users from all continents and found that 85% of users preferred accessing a brand or business through a mobile app rather than through a browser-based HTML mobile site. The principal reason, in the opinion of Compuware Corporation, was that many mobile applications have content stored that can be accessed without an internet connection. Mobile users preferred mobile apps because they give “easy access to product and store information, help planning and navigating, and give the ability to communicate in real time.”
What do users want?
This is the most interesting finding. Users no longer hope they will find what they’re looking for when they access an app: they now demand it. Compuware Corporation found that users expect an app to “push out personalised content, offers and perks based on their interests, while providing the ability to share offers, news and product recommendations virally on their social networks.” According to Steph Pierzchala, technology strategist, at Compuware APM Centre of Excellence any business which intends to release a mobile app should ensure that it offers the highest levels of performance and user satisfaction:
“With consumers expecting greater experiences with mobile apps now more than ever, fulfilling those expectations doesn’t just happen—it takes a conscious effort throughout every stage of the design and development process to get it right.”