This short post is dedicated to mobile web application development and in particular whether or not this approach to mobile development is appropriate for your website.
Though there are no hard and fast rules for who should use mobile web apps, the intrinsic character of web apps means that certain websites will be very effective as an app, while others will not. Before we get into the technical side, let’s take a quick look at the mobile options available for building a website.
The first choice available for offering a mobile ready website is simply to use responsive design to create a website that works across any platform and device. Responsive design is perhaps the most frequently used solution to mobile browsing, partly thanks to the convenience of building a single site for multiple uses.
Before getting into mobile web apps, I firstly want to explain what a native app is. A native app is any application which you download and install onto your device, from the App Store or android marketplace. These apps are then readily available on your own device at your leisure.
Unlike a native app, a mobile web app is a website which looks, feels, and functions like a native app but with a few key differences. First of all, a mobile web app is like a website insofar as it is found and accessed via a web search, and nothing needs to be downloaded or installed onto your device. There are a number of benefits of this, not taking up any memory on the device, and the hesitation this may cause for native app users.
The one key limitation of mobile web apps compared with native apps is that they do not have automatic access to your devices’ features such as contact lists, camera, microphone and so on.
So who will most benefit from a mobile web application? As we’ve said, there are no strict rules. This said, though, the type of site which usually makes the best use of the platform are those sites which are image and icon-heavy, and relatively word light.