Mobile App vs Web App For My MVP

By Ali Farooq on 16th September, 2020
You’ve been brainstorming for a while now and you’ve come up with the next big thing. Now you’re thinking about building your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and find yourself asking the question: Should the MVP be a mobile application or a web application?
Before we dive into the pros and cons of these two, it’s important to know that a website and a web application are not the same thing!
Difference between a web app and a website?
A website consists of one or many static web pages to provide users with information about the company / product. On a website, users can’t perform any functions other that scrolling and viewing content. Your website exists for visibility, SEO, online presence, etc. regardless of whether you choose to build a mobile app or a web app.
On the other hand, a web application is an interactive site where users can perform various actions. Facebook, Asana, TripAdvisor etc are great examples of Web Apps. TripAdvisor e.g allows users to plan their trips; from picking the right place to eat by reading reviews to making hotel bookings, the web app allows users to perform a variety of functions on the web app rather than just viewing information!
You might have noticed that most common applications have both, a web app and a mobile app (e.g Slack), but as a startup you probably don’t have the budget for both, which is probably why you’ve ended up at this blog post.
There’s no straightforward answer to which one you should go with first because this varies from business to business. To help you figure it out, we’ve come up with a list of the 5 most important things to consider before making your decision:
Environment In Which The User Will Access Your Application
This one is a no brainer. Imagine opening your browser, going to a website and then logging in to your account every time you wanted to book an Uber or a Careem. Doesn’t sound like a good user experience, does it?
To avoid making that mistake, try putting yourself in the end-users shoes. If they’re going to be using your application in a work environment for long hours, it probably makes sense to go with a web application first. However, if the user needs to have a quick and simple interaction with your application, a mobile application would be a better fit.
How Frequently Will People Access The Application?
Do people need to access your application 5-6 times a day or is it something that people will only be using once a day or once every few days? If you’re building something that needs to be accessed frequently, you would probably want to go with a mobile application first. People don’t want to open a browser and type a URL every time they want to access an application. Imagine having to open a browser every time you wanted to message someone! However, a web application is perfectly fine for something like Google Docs because people prefer preparing their documents on a laptop; it all depends on what makes life easier for your user.
How Important Are Notifications?
You can now send notifications via both mobile applications and web applications. However, mobile push notifications are much more effective as compared to web notifications. Let’s say you have an application that allows users to manage their day and it is critical to inform the user that they have a meeting coming up. A mobile application would be the suitable choice for such a scenario.
Is Offline Access Important?
If the user needs to be able to perform tasks and interact with the application while they’re offline, you absolutely need to go with a mobile application. Alternatively, you could also have a desktop application built, but we won’t go into the details of that in this blog post.
Your Budget
Mobile apps, especially when built for both Android and iOS, are typically significantly more expensive as compared to web applications.
As a startup, this may be the most important deciding factor for you. However, it’s important to consider that a decision should not be made solely based on the budget. If a mobile application is absolutely necessary for your users but it seems too expensive, maybe you should consider cutting down some features for your MVP, or target only iOS users for proof of concept.