One of the most innovative and versatile device today is the mobile phone. The dependency on mobile phones has grown to such an extent that you’d find it hard to locate individuals not glued to their phone screens at all times. Peter Rojas, former Vice President of Strategy at AOL, said, “I think the biggest change and the one that we’ve already started to see take shape is that globally the majority of Internet users will be done via a mobile device and for most people, the mobile web will be their primary – if not their only – way of experiencing the Internet.”.
Developers today have multiple alternatives for various use cases. As not everyone might need a website, and others might want offline viewing and other complex features that cannot be served by a responsive website but possible in the web apps or mobile responsive app. The major alternatives to native apps and traditional websites include the following:
- Hybrid apps with WebView
- Web Apps
- Mobile Responsive Websites
- What is a WebView?
A WebView is a way to display a website within an app.
Instagram is an interesting example of a hybrid app that uses WebViews for some of its functionalities like a timeline.
- What are the benefits of using WebViews?
- They give better control over your application’s UI.
- You don’t need to update the whole application if you wish to update the application’s content, if, for instance, you wish to advertise an upcoming deal on your application or some other energizing offer.
- WebViews allow cross-platform development resulting in reduced development cost and flexibility for the developer.
- Scenarios where WebView is the best.
WebView allows the user to open URLs from within the app, emulating a browser. This helps a developer to retain the user within the app and not use a third-party solution for any purpose (e.g. rendering web pages).
In-app advertisements work best on WebViews as ads can then be loaded from a central server. A good example of this is Facebook.
- What is a Web App?
A web application (Web App) is an application that is delivered through a browser. These apps are not tied to a platform and only require a browser. Commonly known web apps include Yelp, Google Docs and Pixlr.
- What are the benefits of using Web Apps?
- Web Apps are platform-independent. Web applications run on any platform as long as the browser is compatible.
- All clients access a similar version, avoiding any discrepancy issues.
- Web apps are not saved on the device, thus eliminating space restrictions.
- Scenarios where Web Apps are the best.
Web Apps are best suited for scenarios where the developer wishes to create online word processors, spreadsheets, photo editing tools, file converters, and email programs such as Gmail.
Mobile Responsive Websites
- What is a Mobile Responsive Website?
A responsive website offers an experience based on the device being used. A mobile responsive website is ideal for mobile viewing.
- What are the benefits of Mobile Responsive Websites?
- Mobile responsive websites offer a more natural experience for the users. There are nearly no limits on screen dimensions as responsive site designs work well on any screen size.
- Responsive sites load faster. A normal website needs to load all potential designs while a responsive website just needs to load the one that works on the calling platform.
- Mobile responsive websites are future-proof. You are not constrained to the screen and your page will load and look incredible on the next new smartphone.
Scenarios where Mobile Responsive websites are the best.
- Flexible visuals: Timeless designs capable of adjusting to any gadget, paying little heed to its size or shape.
- Media queries: Media queries permit engineers to utilize condition checks to adjust website architectures dependent on the properties of the client’s device. This is better than just characterizing breakpoints in the HTML/CSS, as it’s a more tailor-made experience for the user.
- Fluid grids: Fluid layouts put control of the structures firmly in the hands of the clients and their browsing habits. This enables designers to keep up a consistent look and feel over various devices. Furthermore, it helps save everyone time and money by permitting designers to update just one version of the site versus many.
WebViews vs Web Apps
Web Apps vs Mobile Responsive Websites
Mobile responsive websites offer a better user experience as they do not have any device or screen limitations to worry about. Web apps are geared towards desktops. Responsive websites are not only faster but have a more promising future as compared to web apps.
If you’re new to the development game and want to pick one of these three options, here’s what you can do:
Use analytics to discover which operating system is utilized most often to access your site. Leverage that information to shortlist the candidate that best suits your requirements.
Match the capability of your option with the sort of application you’re attempting to create.
This should help you figure out what would be the most appropriate solution for your needs. Remember—no matter what option you choose today, it will be your user base that will determine if your choice was the best one to make. If you are still confused, consult a good development partner like Volumetree to help you make the right choice.