Mobile vs. Web Introduction - Whiteboard Wednesday

Learn about the different ways to start a mobile strategy, including mobile web, hybrid apps and native apps, and hear Localytics' Daniel Ruby cover some decision points to help determine which path is right for your business needs in this short informational video.



Hi, my name's Dan Ruby and I'm the director of online marketing here Localytics. Welcome to Whiteboard Wednesday. Today we're going to talk about the difference between web and mobile and to give you a couple of ideas to kick around when deciding what mobile technology is right for your organization.

You're all watching this video because you're already very established, accomplished digital marketers. You've been dealing with a website for years, and you've watched that website evolve over time from something very basic - maybe a collection of links, a handful of graphics and a call to action - to what is most likely a very rich, interactive branded experience today.

So the question becomes how do I take this rich, branded experience and port it over to a very small screen that's in everybody's pockets now?

Step number one is to do nothing. As most smartphones have a full HTML-capable browser, they can technically access your existing web site through the browser. The downside of this, obviously, is that the the experience is terrible. There's a lot of pinching to zoom, scrolling around and a great deal of rich elements that don't play.

It works. It's just not the right way to go.

Step number two is to make a mobile optimized website. That's something that your web designers should be able to do off the bat. It's basically just taking your rich, immersive, interactive website and pulling away a lot of the richness, drilling it down to the core messages and optimizing it for the experience of a small touchscreen.

This is a really good first active step. It's a great way to make sure that people who are still coming to your brand via search engines have a mobile experience. It may not be as cool, it may not be as immersive, but it works on a mobile device.

The next step is to take this mobile web site and wrap it in a native app wrapper. There are several products out there that will allow you to take your existing website, designed to fit in the the mobile framework, and put it into the native language of a particular operating system. You've still got an HTML website, but, in the case of iOS, you now have objective C built around it.

This doesn't really make much difference in the actual usability of this website, but what it does get you is distribution. Once you wrapped it in this native wrapper you can submit it to one of the various app stores, be it Google Play, Apple's App Store, Amazon's App Store and so on.

The next step is to take the actual usability, richness and experience that your website has evolved to over time and try to mirror that depth of experience on mobile. The way to do that is with a native app - that is, an app that is built from the ground up in whatever language a particular mobile operating system is coded in.

This allows a lot more interactivity and a lot more cool features. A native app will have full access to a phone's hardware, so if you're a retailer for example you have access to the camera, which will allow you to do QR and barcode scanning. If you are a publication it gives you access to the phone's local storage, which means that you can download your latest issue locally onto somebody's device - then you don't have to worry about connectivity. They can read it in a tunnel, on a plane, anywhere.

The question then becomes "which one of these is right for my business?" You have to decide what levels of depth and interactivity are important to your particular business. Obviously a native app gives you the greatest possible depth of experience, but there are drawbacks to that as well. The biggest is cost: you have to have somebody code a native app specifically for each platform that you want to go to, so if you want to be on Android you have to have somebody who can code Java, if you want to be in iOS you have to have somebody who can code objective C, if you want to be on Windows 8 you need somebody who can code in C Sharp. That will ramp up your development time and your development expenses.

You have to decide individually whether you want something that is basic, gets a lot of search traffic and doesn't necessarily need more than fairly simple surface level information. In which case a mobile web site may be all that you need.

If you want to take that and add on the distribution capability of the app stores, taking that mobile website and wrapping it in a native wrapper, creating what's called a hybrid app, may be the right decision.

If, however, you want a really interactive, really rich branded experience, and and you're willing to to invest the the development time and expenses into it, a native app is probably right for you.

I hope that's given you are nice overview of the different possibilities for creating the mobile experience for your brand.

Again my name is Daniel Ruby and I'm the Director of Online Marketing here at Localytics. I hope you've enjoyed this Whiteboard Wednesday, and we'll see you next week.