Mobile website, mobile app or API? A 5-minute primer.

50% of average global mobile web users now use mobile as either their primary or exclusive means of going online. And 48% of users say that if they arrive on a business website that isn't working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring. Now, let’s say you have 6 months and a limited budget to overhaul your company’s online mobile presence and prove to users that you do, in fact, care. Further, let’s also say you have five minutes to decide whether to develop a new mobile website, a mobile app, or an API. What’s the right choice? The short answer is, “it depends.”

The longer answer (if you consider five minutes, “longer”) is that each technology can deliver great results depending on how you want users to experience your brand and how you think they will want to consume your content or data.

When does a mobile website make the most sense?

Ask yourself these three questions:
  1. Is most of your content static or informational, e.g.: “about us”, business hours, maps, and addresses?
  2. Will limiting accessibility to only those times when a data connection is available be acceptable to your users?
  3. Do you have a homogenous user base—every user wants/expects/requires the same levels of information or service?
If you say “yes” to all three, then a mobile website will likely suit your users’ and your businesses’ needs perfectly well.

When does a mobile app make more sense?

Ask yourself these three questions:
  1. Is there a high intensity for client side processing, e.g.: manipulating graphics/images, multi-input calculators, or estimating?
  2. Is there a need for users to have full access to all functionality offline?
  3. Are there data or storage requirements larger than 25MB?
If you say “yes” to just about any of these, then a dedicated app will offer a much higher level of performance and superior user experience.

When does building an API make sense?

Ask yourself these three questions:
  1. Is your content valuable as raw data or in context of your distribution partners’ UX, e.g.: Amazon showing UPS tracking status inline with order information, or a mortgage bank providing real-time interest rate data for brokers’ online calculators?
  2. Are you trying to make your content/data more transferable or shareable, e.g.: embedded YouTube videos or syndicated through existing platforms like Flipboard?
  3. Will you want to use the same data or content for driving a variety of disparate experiences, or you sense the portal to that data is likely to change radically in the near term, e.g.: the expanding and changing adoption levels of mobile websites, dedicated apps and wearables?
Again, if you say “yes” to just about any of these, investing in an API could provide maximum exposure for your content/data while creating a code foundation that makes every future development more efficient.

When does meeting a new strategic partner make sense?

Since 1985, Magnani Continuum Marketing has made it easier for organizations selling in highly technical and complex markets to deliver the most effective and seamless traditional and digital brand experiences. We’re more digital than advertising agencies. More strategic than digital marketing shops. More creative than management consultants. And a heck of a lot easier to work with than almost all of them. We’ve helped some of the largest corporations in the world, and some of the most exciting new startups. And we’d love to talk with you.

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