mobile website vs a native app vs a web app

What is the difference between an App, Native App and Website?

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Hi everyone,

Yes, this is one of those typical “videos in the car” situation – I got my dates mixed up with Callie’s gymnastics, so I’m stuck in the car park, instead of doing work. Fantastic, anyway!

Here is an opportunity to, sort of, discuss something that got raised the other week. Someone wasn’t quite sure what the difference was between a Website, a Web App, an App.

In a nutshell, I thought I’d try and cover these points and why some of them might be beneficial for your business.

statistics about progressive web apps

Everyone knows what a website is; you type a web address, in a browser, on your computer or on your phone, and it loads up a website and this is built with HTML, CSS and Javascript which have been around for donkey’s years. It’s something that would get found in Google and you can search for it, people will share it on their Facebook, etc., etc.

With an App, generally it’s like a Native app people are referring to. So, you might have an iPhone and you might go to the Apple (App) Store and look for a particular app or game and download that on to your phone, and then you’ll have to to keep that up-to-date as well, and you’ll have to keep the operating system your phone up-to-date and thus update the software again, etc.

It would also be the same with Google Play store and I think Microsoft has their own version as well.

And these native apps can tap into all the possibilities on your phone, like geo-location or the tilt-effect y’know, probably great for all these new sorts of, Virtual Reality effects that you can see now being posted on social media.

benefits of progressive web apps

What’s been coming down the line now the last, hmmm, probably a good 5 years or so, maybe longer? Are Web Apps or Progressive Web Apps, also known as PWAs, and they’ve been pushed a lot by Google – no surprises there – and these sort of bridge the gap between the two.

You get the benefits of a website, but also some of the benefits of using the device – your mobile phone or your tablets native functions, in your website. So that might be; they can add your Web App to their home screen, so they constantly revisit your product or service.

They can, they don’t have to rely on it being updated all the time, so with a website you push the updates and people are non-the-wiser, they get all content new, all the time.

an example of a push notification
An example of a Push Notification from a PWA (Progressive Web App)

But one great thing is, Push Notifications, for example, if you’ve got an eCommerce store, and you want to alert people you have a Flash sale on, you can use one of these Push Notifications – very similar to what you’d get with Facebook pinging-up a little notification across your screen, or on your lock screen, to say you’ve got this sale.

There are so many benefits to using a PWA, you only have to use the same languages we’ve been using for years for websites – you don’t have to learn a different language to build for Apple, then for Google, then for another platform as well.

They use HTTPS, where you see the little lock icon, that’s great for preventing malicious tactics or cyber attacks as well.

There is no cost to put it through a store, you just build it like you would a website.

pwa showing offline mode
A PWA (Progressive Web App) in offline mode

It’s great, because it can still get crawled by Google as well, and indexed by search engines and Google shifted to mobile-first a few years ago I think, in 2018 maybe. Where it’s treating the mobile version of a website, as the primary part of the website, basically, to users.

You can have Offline Mode, so say if your service, I guess, is like a blog, maybe you’re an Influencer and you want people to be able to read your content, whilst they’re commuting and they go through a tunnel and they’ve lost connection, it’s great for things like that, which you wouldn’t get with a website, but it would probably cost you a lot of time and money, to develop an app, like a Native App.

So it’s a great happy medium.

There are so many companies who’ve already adopted also this and seamlessly integrated this and you wouldn’t even know, so companies like Debenham’s, Lancome, Forbes, Instagram, Pinterest, Uber, Starbucks, Ali Express – loads of them have dabbled with this technology and found great gains for the speed as well.
And we all know about speed! 😉

Pinterest rebuilt their mobile site as a PWA and core engagements increase by 60%. They also saw a 44% increase in user-generated ad revenue and time spent on the site has increased by 40%.

I just thought I’d highlight those pointers, and kill some time in the car! So I hope you have a great day, take care!

Caroline Hagan

Caroline brings over 15 years as a Designer and Developer; featured in .NET magazine, the only woman in the UK accredited for Google Mobile Sites. A business mentor with Enterprise Nation, STEM Ambassador and Google Women Techmaker Ambassador Previous client projects include Blackberry, FIAT, Clark Shoes and Sky.

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