The Four Ways to Go Mobile

I’m sure the last few years have had IT Leadership heralding the call to Mobile.  “We must be mobile!”, “Our Company needs an App!” can be heard in leadership meetings far and wide. 

So what are the options?  What are the pros and cons to each?

Here is your guide:

Native App:

This is an App installed on the device with code running directly on the device.

Pros: Processes run on device resources, rather than your server. This is an advantage if you expect a large user base with high usage rates. Visibility on app stores and on each users device.

Cons: Pick your platform, and develop. The costs and timeline are huge to make an app for each platform, and you’ll likely still abandon some users. (At this point, would you devote the time to develop for Blackberry?) You’ll need staff knowledge on all platforms, equipment and developer accounts for each as well.

Separate Mobile Site:

This is a separate mobile version of a website, connecting to the same database, reformatted to fit a standard ‘mobile’ screen.

Pros: This solution used to be the choice over Native Apps as mobile sites will run on any mobile browser, eliminating the need to develop multiple native apps.

Cons: Outdated approach with little to no advantage over the solutions below.

Responsive Website:

A responsive website adapts its layout to the screen that is viewing it.

Pros: A single point of development for both the website and its mobile layout. The solution works cross platform, cross device type.  Only develop one site and it works on all platforms and layouts.

Cons: This solution can be a compromise of user experience for more complex websites with heavy user interaction.  All user interaction happens with hosted services, which may end up being sluggish.

Website with Native Wrapper:

One of the above web solutions (separate mobile site or responsive website) with a native app that wraps itself around the website, allowing for a native look.

Pros: Same as the pros for the selected web solution plus having the visibility of being in the app store, and on each user’s device.

Cons: Same as selected web solution.

The choice will depend on the application.  For this website, I chose a responsive design, and added a Native App wrapper for Android.

Try out this website on your phone or tablet to see an example of responsiveness.

Install a Native Android Wrapper for this website here on Google Play.

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