Website vs Native vs Hybrid
Have you got a product or service idea? Your first step is probably building a website or e-commerce site to get started selling to customers, right?
Did you know you have many options these days other than a standard website?
In this article, we’re going to outline some of the best alternatives to websites available for you to utilise.
But first, a quick recap…
What is a Website?
Websites are viewed with internet browsers and do not require users to download or install additional software. Although offline pages can be saved, websites generally require an active internet connection.
Open any modern website and you will notice it adapt and resize to fit the device or browser you are using; this is known as responsive design. This gives you the ability to serve content that targets mobile phone users – more on this in a moment.
While a website can look and appear to function as a mobile app, they do not offer the same levels of functionality.
- Device agnostic – A website can be opened on any browser on any phone if built properly
- Broader reach of people – viewable on PC, Tablet, iPhone, Android, etc.
- Easy to apply updates and modify the content
- Website content is indexed by search engines
- Limited device functionality – A website cannot access the mobile devices native functions such as cameras, GPS, notifications etc
- Limited offline functionality
Let’s take a moment to look at how people access the internet and your services. Mobile search traffic has overtaken desktop searching and has impacted how Google displays results in recent years – they call it mobile-first.
The importance of being searchable on mobile devices should not be underestimated.
- There were 205 billion app downloads in 2018
- There is expected to be 260 billion by 2022
- Mobile app revenue estimated to be $188.9 billion for 2020
Users on mobile devices also prefer using a mobile app over a website. The ComScore 2018 report indicates that apps account for > 80% of mobile usage time.
The following statistics show that Google Search isn’t the only place you want to be seen by millions of additional people.
- 500 million users worldwide visit the app store each week
- Nearly 70% of app installs are driven from web search resulting in 150 million installs purely from app store searches
- Google Play Store processes 6 million unique search phrases per month
With this in mind, here are some alternatives for targeting the ever-growing mobile market.
Native Mobile Applications
A native app is an application that is built for a specific platform. This means you will need two apps built for maximum exposure, one for iOS and one for Android. This can be an expensive method as your developer must maintain two separate code libraries.
Native apps must be downloaded and installed onto the mobile device and can access functionality provided by the mobile device itself such as GPS, cameras, notifications and vibration.
Unlike a website, a native app can run without an active internet connection.
Native App Pros
- Users can find you via Google searches as well as app store listings
- More users are on their phones more often
- Access to native functionality – GPS, SMS, calls, cameras
- Better at handling multiple types of content delivery – images, videos, music
- Apps are better at personalisation – users can set preferences, access personal info faster and more streamlined progress tracking
- Better offline functionality
- More interactivity than websites
- Can be more performant than the equivalent website
Native App Cons
- Can be difficult to manage operating system requirements for all device types and versions of the operating system
- The requirement to have a separate code base for each operating system – iOS, Android, Windows etc
- Support and updates are more complex as the changes need to be applied to all the separate code bases and submitted to the individual app stores requiring approval
Hybrid Apps & Progressive Web Apps
A hybrid app is a mobile application that is built using web-based technologies similar to those used on websites. These applications are capable of being viewed in an internet browser like a website. They can also be converted into a mobile app available on the Apple App Store and Google Play store.
Hybrid apps that are published as a website are known as Progressive Web Apps. They provide the same functionality as the downloadable store apps and give your customers more flexibility over how they access your platform.
Unlike native apps, hybrid apps allow your developers to build a single code base for the one app which can be published to a website as well as iOS, Android and Microsoft Windows app stores.
Hybrid apps offer the best of both worlds – website access and ease of updating as well as being able to access system-level functionality provided by mobile devices and running offline if required.
Hybrid App Pros
- Easier to build than a native mobile app
- Lowest cost of entry to both web and mobile worlds
- Available offline
- Provides access to native app functionality on a mobile device
- Can be deployed as a web site and mobile app
- A single code base for all operating systems
- Very good at distributing various content types – images, video, music
- More interactivity than websites
- PWA version can be indexed by search engines
- App Store versions available via Google search AND app store listings
- Users can be funnelled into the website and then encouraged to download later
- PWA can be saved to the users home screen like an app
Why should you invest in a hybrid app?
Hybrid apps lower the barrier of entry to the mobile app world by providing web and mobile functionality using a single code base that maintains the best possible experience for your users and customers.
The only real downside to hybrid technology is hybrid application performance is not as high when compared to a pure native development.
If you want to produce a video game or a highly complex application, and you have the money, then you’ll need to take the native route and build separate applications for iOS, Android, etc. If your requirements are simpler, then hybrid technologies will provide huge cost savings for the same result.
You’d be surprised at how many apps you use are hybrid!