MVP App Development
June 22, 2022

Should I build a web app or native app?

When clients ask, “can you build us a mobile app?” It inevitably leads to the question: what kind? Mobile? Desktop? Native? Web? MVP development is especially conscious of this fact because at this stage this decision will affect a lot of factors. Let’s layout the key reasons why you would build a web app, native app, desktop app, mobile app, or responsive app.

To start by clarifying some terms, a native app refers to one that is available in the app stores of Google and IOS. This is in contrast to a web application, which can be accessed in a browser without a download. A native app would be only mobile, though could also be formatted for a tablet. A web app could be mobile or desktop, but is most likely going to be responsive, meaning it can work on both. Which one you choose to build ultimately depends on a few variables:

Your Demographic

Who is the intended audience of your app? While we automatically think of a phone app, that is not always the best choice. For example- if your clientele are businesses (B2B) then chances are more than 70% - possibly closer to 100%- of users are going to be using it from a desktop. Yet if it’s for consumer-facing shopping, then your MVP app development should focus on a mobile-version.  35% of users have downloaded 0 apps in the past month, with some studies linking this group to business-oriented people and older generations, whereas younger generations are more likely to prefer an app.

App Use Frequency vs Shareability

The next question to ask is how often and in what way will users use this app? Large datasets and tables are best on desktop. Simple interactions and content consumption on mobile. And how often are they using the app? If it’s daily or multiple times a day, that level of commitment could be best served by a native app that is downloaded where push notifications can be leveraged. If the  app is used less frequently and should be easily shareable, then a web-app is better. No download required, just click a link!

Required Functionality

Does it actually use any required phone functionality? These can be referred to as “native functions”- like an accelerometer, GPS, camera, fingerprint scanner, etc... Chrome and Safari now have access to about half of all native functions in phones so porting to the app store is becoming less and less needed. Yet if you want to leverage some functions that are not available in browsers, then you’ll want to consider a native app.

Budget

Native apps typically have stricter requirements and have less-access to powerful low-code functionality, thus inflating their budget. The cost for mobile native app development vs web app development can be as great as 3x, depending on the approach. With simpler functionality, some low-code tools do exist that can reduce this, though their flexibility is limited.

Which Should You Choose?

If you’re in the process of ideation for your MVP app development, you’ll want to reflect on these questions before deciding how to proceed. Your user demographic, intended functionality, app-accessibility/shareability, and budget will all be affected. If you’d like to chat more on this, you can feel free to send us a message or schedule a consultation call. Best of luck!

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