Desktop Websites, Mobile Websites and Mobile Apps: What’s the Difference?

One of the most common questions we get is “what is web design?” More specifically, many of our customers want to know the difference between websites and mobile apps. Read on to learn more about their differences so you start crafting the best website design and mobile app development for your brand.

Full Website

A ‘full website’ refers to the website interface that shows up on a computer screen. Full websites can afford to take more risks in the type of information that they present on the page because of the larger screen size of a computer (as compared to a mobile device).

For example, a website could have a rotating slideshow of examples of reviews or past work the company has done on the side of the screen. This would be less feasible on a mobile website, because it may hinder the user’s navigation.

Websites are an essential tool for attracting and engaging with customers. Chavan Mayur, marketing specialist and blogger at Medium, offers five reasons why websites can help your business run more smoothly. Some of these include: cost effectiveness (your website is a place you can advertise your business for little to no cost), customer service, and 24/7 display.

For our customers, such as our Madison web design clients, we base our design process around IH5 Web Principles. These are five guiding principles that collectively emphasize ease of use and unique, personalized design as the most important traits of a website. The best websites are able to convey the brand’s unique identity in tried-and-true web design layouts that users are familiar with.

Mobile Website

“Mobile website” refers to a scaled design of the full website that adapts to smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices with internet access. Due to the smaller screen size of mobile devices, minimalist design is a characteristic of successful mobile websites, according to copywriter Victoria K. and web designer Anton S. of RubyGarage.

Simple design is also of heightened importance on mobile websites because mobile users are often in a hurry. They will want the most important information, such as address or reviews, to be readily available.

Our IH5 Mobile Web Principles, much like our IH5 Web Principles, emphasize ease of use and branding via consistent design. One way that we provide these values is by working with web development experts and web graphic designer consultants who use software with responsive web design capabilities.

Such styles of website are ideal because they allow maximum consistency across device types. Rather than having to design many different websites for different screen sizes, a responsive site fits to the device it appears on, thereby keeping layout styles consistent.

Mobile Apps

Apps are very popular in the business world for a number of reasons. Mainly, they provide an experience that is tailored directly to an operating system, and they are often more interactive and user-friendly than a mobile website is.

Many apps work great as a source of easily accessible information for the visitor, as they do not need to be connected to the internet to run. They also provide companies with more opportunities for engaging with their users because users can be notified of changes, promotions or new posts.

Apps must be submitted for approval to app stores before they can be downloaded. They also require effort and data on the part of the user, and will take up more space on their device’s screen. Therefore, customers will only want to download and keep an app on their phone if they have a reason to.

Apps are great for certain endeavors, such as coupon systems or engaging with a dedicated consumer base. However, apps are also a larger investment, usually costing more than web development and web design.

So businesses should consider if they are in an industry that will support apps: for example, industries that rely on repeat customers might do better with a mobile app. And above all, businesses should ensure they are operating a top-notch website, social media presence, and mobile-format website before considering app development.

Full websites, mobile websites, and mobile apps each have their own share of benefits and disadvantages, and they each have slightly different functions. Full websites are the starting point for an online presence – a center of information that can double as a platform for marketing.

Mobile websites offer the same information, with even greater emphasis on simple design and ease of use. And finally, mobile apps are a great way to connect with an already dedicated group of customers. They can also function as a promotional tool that fulfills a niche purpose, with a message that can be easily communicated to new customers. Be sure to keep these differences in mind as you develop your company’s online presence in order to best make use of each format’s strengths.

IH Concepts is a Madison-based graphic design firm. IH Concepts specializes in custom logo design, web development, mobile app development, and other graphic design services.

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Related IH Concepts Articles

“5 Things to Consider When Building a Mobile Website”

“Mobile Apps: Your Modern Edge”

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