Mobile App Vs. Mobile Website: A UX Comparison

The success of any business depends on how well it manages to connect with its customers. In the past, building and sustaining that connection was not easy to do, but smartphones have made it much more convenient and effective by providing quick access to mobile websites and applications. Different companies, institutions, and service providers have adopted these technologies to establish a robust online presence and communicate with their customers in numerous new ways.

Still, choosing between a mobile app and a mobile website can be a tough decision for any business. Both options are similar and accessible on the smartphone, but each has its own design logic as well as pros and cons. Therefore, if you are setting up a mobile presence for a new business, you must first understand the differences between the two. This article gives a comprehensive comparison of mobile app vs mobile website to help you select the right option for your business.

Difference Between App And Website

To better understand how mobile websites and mobile applications differ in design, it is necessary to understand how a website differs from an app in general.

The first major difference lies in the way users can interact. When it comes to the website vs app comparison, the first one serves as an information portal requiring little to no input from the visitor, while the latter serves as an interactive platform performing functions upon users’ commands.

Simply put, to access a website, you only need to type in the required URL and browse the pages. On the other hand, to make that experience at least comfortable and enjoyable, designers and developers need to put a lot of thought and work into the website.

Meanwhile, a mobile application is built to address a certain issue or group of issues that are similar, aiming to satisfy the requirements of a target audience. Therefore, the design should ensure the users can navigate the app to solve the issues  comfortably and quickly.

Mobile App Vs Website – A Quick Comparison

On the surface, both a mobile website and a mobile application look similar. However, comparing mobile website vs app reveals major differences.

A mobile website is similar to any website. However, it is basically a responsive website, which means that it can be viewed on smartphones and other handheld devices as well. Mobile websites are comprised of HTML pages linked together and accessible in a web browser. The design of these websites adjusts to fit device screens of different sizes. A mobile website can display texts, videos, and other media.

Meanwhile, a mobile app is built solely for mobile devices and works independently from a website or desktop application.

Now, let’s quickly make the mobile app vs mobile website comparison considering various aspects.

Availability To Users

Users can access a mobile website simply by typing in the URL in the web browser they use on their mobile phone or tablet. On the other hand, mobile apps need to be downloaded from Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App store.

Data Storage

Another key difference between mobile app and mobile website is the data storage method. A mobile app takes up a chunk of memory on the mobile device, while a mobile website does not consume a device’s storage — it stored on cloud servers instead.


When it comes to website, users are typically not involved in the update installation. It is performed automatically. Updating a mobile app, on the other hand, may require action from users if they choose so.

Device Compatibility

Device compatibility is another major differentiator in our mobile app vs website comparison. A mobile website can easily be viewed across platforms and on most smartphones. However, a mobile app may not support every device or operating system version.

Mobile Website Vs Mobile Web App – Similar But Different

There is one more app type alongside mobile website and application — mobile web app. As our mobile website vs mobile web app comparison reveals, this type of apps has the best of both worlds, but it appears to be much closer to native apps than responsive websites.

A mobile web app is a website that bears the features and advantages of a mobile application. Mobile web apps are built in HTML/CSS and can be accessed with web browsers just like any other website. On the surface, they are identical — all major differences are exhibited in the back-end. A classic example of a web app is Facebook, which offers comprehensive app-like functionality right in the web browser. Other good examples include project management tools like Trello.

Advantages Of Mobile App Over Website

Having both a mobile website and mobile application is a nice option for large, well-established companies. For startups and small businesses, this is not the best way to go in terms of cost-efficiency. As a result, they need to look closely into mobile app vs responsive website comparisons. While each has its own pros and cons, a mobile app is usually more beneficial for a small business with big growth plans than a mobile website.

Let’s explore why.

1. Better Customization

The more a user can personalize on their digital journey, the better the user experience. This is not to mention that personalization is an ongoing trend that will not go anytime soon. The mobile app UX can allow users to customize content and perform various functions when needed. On top of that, great UX means high conversion rate.

2. Convenient Notifications

Earlier, companies had to communicate with their customers via emails or phone calls. With notifications, mobile apps offer a more swift, unintrusive, and to-the point way of communication. Importantly, uses decide whether to enable them and how they want notifications to be delivered.

3. Offline Compatibility

In this part of the responsive website vs mobile app comparison, mobile evidently wins. A mobile or responsive website require internet connection. Even the sites offering offline support only make use of caching, allowing the users to merely view the already loaded web pages. On the other hand, most apps offer users access to the majority of content sections and features even offline.

mobile app vs website

4. Fast Performance

Mobile applications outdo websites when comparing the performance of a mobile friendly website vs app. Most mobile websites use JavaScript and fetch stored data from web servers, which slows them down. Meanwhile, the development framework of mobile apps allows for quick and consistent operation.

5. More Functions With Mobile Device Features

Since mobile app essentially becomes part of a user’s device, it accesses the device features to provide more functions. For instance, apps can use the mobile device’s camera and microphone to let you communicate via audio/video, send photographs, or enable creative features and technologies like augmented reality.

6. Improved Branding

A well-made mobile app allows companies to extend their brands to mobile and digital in a unique, memorable, and consistent way, owing to mobile’s possibilities in personalization, handiness, improved functionality, and freedom of design choices and creativity.

Mobile App Vs Mobile Website Statistics Regarding UX

When it comes to statistics in our responsive website vs mobile apps comparison, users choose apps over websites. The stats below clearly indicate that mobile apps provide better user engagement and boost conversion rates.

Increased Usage

The rise in smartphone usage is so high that a major chunk of the global digital traffic comes from smartphones. According to a ComScore study, 71% of the digital traffic in the United States comes from mobile devices. Whereas, Indonesia holds the largest nationwide share of mobile digital traffic, boasting a whopping 91%.

difference between app and website

Source: ComScore

Other stats reveal that 87% of mobile digital traffic comes from mobile apps, and only 13% from mobile web applications.

advantages of mobile app over website

Owing to the apps’ ease of use, around 80% of mobile app users move the app icons to their devices’ home screen, as revealed by a ComScore study conducted in 2017. Of these, 61% performed this action due to frequent usage.

mobile app vs mobile website statisticsMore Preferred By Users

Comparing user preferences in the website vs mobile app comparison shows that the users generally prefer apps over websites. This is because of the better performance, higher speed, and additional features offered by mobile applications. This is true for most mobile applications, with social media apps (like Facebook) and e-commerce apps being the most used ones. According to a 2017 ComScore survey, Amazon, Facebook, and Gmail are the top 3 most used apps.

difference between mobile app and mobile website

Source: MindSea

Increases Conversions

According to a Criteo study, consumers tend to make more purchases through apps as compared to websites. The study revealed that people view four times more products in apps during a single session. Our mobile app vs responsive website comparison also indicates that conversion rates for mobile apps where three times higher.

mobile app vs responsive website

Source: JMango360

Better Sales And Customer Retention

Mobile apps tend to retain customers for longer, thus increasing sales. Named by Swrve the ‘new loyalty cards’, mobile applications have become a major component of companies’ digital strategy. Mobile apps keep the users connected with businesses by way of different useful features, as well as serve as a handy tool that helps perform day-to-day activities and work tasks.

mobile website vs app

Which is Best for You?

Perhaps, no one can ever give a straightforward answer to this question. Choosing the right option when comparing mobile app vs website entirely depends on your requirements and budget.

Designing a mobile website is a quick and low-cost process. Companies aiming at establishing a digital presence quickly can go for this option. However, if you need to provide more when it comes to services and customer experience, strive to stay connected with your users around the clock, and do not have budget limitations, developing a mobile app is a great idea.

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