In the past few years, the museum and tourism industry has “gone mobile” in two different ways: mobile-friendly websites and downloadable mobile apps. What is the difference, and which one is the better choice?
Mobile-friendly websites are still websites — they’ve just been adapted to look and function better on a smartphone or tablet. Mobile apps are downloaded from the iPhone/Android App Stores and appear as individual app icons on the phone’s home screen.
Let’s consider 6 key features:
1. Dependence on wifi or cell signal / ability to function offline:
While apps need to be connected to data to initially download, they can function completely offline after that (including GPS-location tracking). Mobile-friendly websites, on the other hand, have to be constantly “online”. Winner: mobile app.
2. What content can it convey?
Lots of content and data will overwhelm a mobile-friendly website, causing it to load poorly on a phone and damaging the user experience. Mobile apps can be arbitrarily large, include information beyond that of a website, and are often used to replace audio-players and docents as a tour guide. Winner: mobile app.
4. Which can be developed faster?
Optimizing a website to be mobile is faster than creating a mobile app. However, some template- or platform-based apps can go live as quickly as one month. Winner: mobile-friendly website.
3. Which is easier to use?
Both are optimized for mobile touchscreens, with swiping and scrolling features. However, mobile-friendly websites have to download each new page that is visited, which can mean delayed loading and a slow experience. Mobile apps navigate instantly, although they have to be initially downloaded from the App Store. Winner: mobile app.
5. Which is cheaper?
Building a website, or optimizing it for mobile, is a cheaper endeavor than creating a mobile app. However, choosing a template- or platform-based mobile app can be much more cost-effective than choosing to custom-build one. Winner: mobile-friendly website.
6. Which is more interactive and intuitive?
Mobile apps can “connect” more closely with a user than a mobile-friendly website can: apps can be location-aware (can begin a process based on the user’s location), send notifications and alerts (based on time, interest, or location), and include interactive games. They can also generate revenue (eCommerce and in-app purchases) and attract sponsors. Winner: mobile app.
Mobile apps “win”! They are, however, costlier and more difficult to create. That’s where app developers like ActionShow App come in — we can create a mobile app for your visitor attraction without development costs. We support key app features like mobile tour guides and in-app eCommerce, among others. Go to actionshowapp.com to learn more and take advantage of our great value.