Website or App? Which Will Prevail? Which Should You Develop?

We are often asked the question “what will prevail, websites or apps?” The question is valid as many business leaders have to make strategic choices on which channels and platforms they will invest in to connect deeper with their audience. The goal is to determine how best to reach, engage and drive future customer relationships. Unfortunately, it seems there is no definitive data to suggest that one form will dominate the other. At least not yet.

Website building covers a broad spectrum of development, from basic imagery and content positioning to more sophisticated user experiences that run off intelligent, database-driven technologies that respond to user habits and interests. App development is a more contemporary “buzz” term that harnesses user engagement primarily through mobile devices and relies less on traditional web development assets.

The strategy of developing web assets over app solution should take a few key areas into consideration.

1. Does the utility or function of the asset lend itself to a closed, mobile friendly format that can automatically update, refresh and redeliver data points to the user? It would seem the more vibrant and resourceful the asset or offering, the more likely an app would have user appeal.

2. Do you have a solid distribution network that can inform and convert users to actively download and utilize the app? The challenge with apps are there are millions to choose from with such limited top-of-screen real estate to compete against on user devices. The app market is attractive but many disregard the reality that the majority of apps come, grow and go in a very short lifespan.

3. What is your development team most comfortable with building? Website and app development are two distinct procedures with very different processes and deployment paths. Many times, companies are bound by the development ability and interests of the talent pool they rely on to build their online assets.

The bottom line is, a conservative approach today might be to stick with website asset development with a continued eye on app development. Obviously a more edgy strategy would be to build and deploy an app that delivers an experience that drives more intimate and frequent engagement.

For the strategic-minded, a safe but speculative approach may be to focus the web development on the primary online offerings for now but take the most active or “app friendly” utility and make a smaller investment to enter the app space with some value that you can drive and support with the primary web assets. The Internet works best when you research build and test before making giant leaps.

If your market is app driven from a demographic perspective, then that may also influence your decision. Know your audience. Know your offering and never let your current development talent pool dictate how you reach your customer. In the end, marketing needs to wrap around customer value delivery so whatever you build, they have the direct knowledge of what you have and how to position it to engage the audiences you want or need to target.