Mobile Apps vs Mobile Websites: Which is Best for 2023?

The rise of mobile over desktop as today’s consumers’ device of choice has been well-documented. Receiving far less attention is the internal battle of the mobile device – mobile apps vs mobile websites.

The question is no longer whether you need to optimize your website for mobile. That’s a given. The mobile internet is here to stay.

Today’s question is whether you need to go further, and launch an app, or whether you are fine in only having a responsive mobile website.

The data shows a clear winner – though the comparison might not be that simple. For the full picture, keep reading, as we examine everything you need to know about apps vs websites in 2023.


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People Spend 90% of their Mobile Time Using Apps

If we look at the average time spent on apps, they are the clear winner over mobile websites.

Mobile app use is increasingly outpacing mobile browser use. According to eMarketer, smartphone users spent about 4 hours on the internet per day in 2020. 88% of that time is spent using apps, vs websites.

time spent on apps vs websites

Experts suggest that this is due to the better user experience offered by a mobile app, tailored specifically for mobile devices.

An app provides a direct access point from the home screen of a mobile device, and a native app experience is typically slicker and faster than a comparable web experience” –  eMarketer principal analyst Cathy Boyle.

Average time spent on mobile apps has increased by up to 50% in the last two years

Data shows that app usage is only increasing in almost all major markets.

The chart below, via mobile app analytics firm Data.ai, shows that people around the world spend on average 3-5 hours per day using mobile apps. In most locations, this number has gone up over the course of two years.

average daily hours spent on apps
Image Source: Data.ai

The largest increase is in Australia, where time spent on apps has grown by 50% over two years – from just over 3 hours per day, to 5 hours per day.

Some highlights from other major markets include:

  • United States: 5% increase (~4 hours per day)
  • United Kingdom: 5% increase (~4 hours per day)
  • Singapore: 40% increase (~5.25 hours per day)
  • Indonesia: 10% increase (~5.5 hours per day)
  • India: 5% increase (~5 hours per day)
  • Canada: 20% increase (~4.5 hours per day)

These figures are significantly ahead of eMarketer’s 2022 projections, as seen in the earlier chart. Apps are growing at a faster rate than experts predicted, taking market share from both desktop and mobile websites in the process.

Apps vs Websites: Why People Prefer to Use Apps

When it comes to how we consume content on mobile devices, the overwhelming trend points towards mobile apps as the winner over mobile websites.

Let’s look at why that is.

More Features

Whilst mobile apps can make use of all the different functions on your phone, a mobile website is far more limited. Essentially, this means a mobile app is able to offer a level of interaction far beyond the capabilities of its competitors.

GPS, camera and notifications are just some of the mobile features that apps can access, and as mobile technology develops, this list will too.

With apps making full use of push notifications, is it any surprise users are consuming more and more information via apps? The moment you hit publish, all mobile app users can receive a notification. A few seconds and one tap later, and they can all be enjoying your content. Mobile websites can’t compete with that.

Faster Speed

Because mobile apps are downloaded and installed on your device, users find them significantly quicker to run, compared to a mobile website.

Rather than having to load up all the different images and functions, as you would with a mobile website, the mobile app simply pulls everything up from files that already exist on the device.

With load times diminished, users have more time to sit back and enjoy the app in the way it was intended. An added benefit of having everything downloaded is that users don’t necessarily need an Internet connection to use your app. In fact, download enough content and your app can be 100% functional offline.

User Experience

Some mobile websites can be rather confusing. If a site isn’t optimized for your device, it can feel like you’re navigating a minefield.

In general, mobile apps are far more user friendly than mobile websites, as the interface has been specifically designed with mobile users in mind.

Mobile apps offer a simple layout, clear visuals and even tutorials for first-time user. All of which make using them that much easier. Providing your app users with an enjoyable experience will keep them in the app for longer and reflect well on your business.

Built for Touch Screens

While responsive web design has come a long way, you’re still likely to run into trouble optimizing your mobile site for touch screens.

All too often, users mean to tap on one element but the browser selects something else. Dropdowns and text input fields can also be troublesome to use, especially when they’ve been designed primarily for use on desktop.

Convenience

An app stores your details, your usage history and your settings behind one convenient little button on your home screen. This means apps will always be the most convenient option.

With mobile apps, users can choose to remain signed in. They don’t need to manually login on an unfriendly mobile design every time they want to use their favorite apps. A mobile website generally doesn’t offer this level of simplicity in the user experience.

And because your app can make use of the different features on your phone, an app offers the potential to centralize a number of different functions in one place, something that the mobile web doesn’t offer effectively.

Additional Benefits of Having a Mobile App vs Mobile Website for Brands

The improved user experience is a big plus for brands. It’s in your interest for your site (or app) to be easier and less troublesome for people to use.

On top of that, there are a few more big benefits of mobile apps for businesses, compared to mobile websites.

A Self Contained Environment

On mobile website, you’re only in control of the content on your own site. The moment you link elsewhere – as you’ll be expected to – that control is gone.

With a mobile app, the developer can ensure that everything a user could possibly need is contained within the confines of the app.

When you control everything a user is able to see when using your app, it’s much easier to ensure all content is up to your own standards. It’s also much easier to keep the user’s attention, without that attention deviating to new tabs and other websites.

Brand Presence

When someone closes their mobile web browser, your website is gone from their mobile device.

When a user closes your mobile app, your brand remains on their device’s home screen. This means that your website visitors can be reminded of your brand, more than they would otherwise. By putting your brand in front of your website visitors or customers more often, they are more likely to open your app!

Your brand will also be present on mobile app stores such as the iOS and Android Play store. This provides an entirely new channel to raise your brand awareness, and attract new visitors and customers to your app!

Push Notifications

We touched on how mobile apps allow full use of mobile push notifications. This is a big benefit for brands, and should not be ignored.

According to one study, push notifications average 20% open rates and 28% click-through rates. Compare that to 2.1% open rates and 1% click-through rates for email.

Push is, simply put, an incredible communication channel. They’re more direct than email and social media, and are easier to personalize. The difference this can make for brands in all industries – from online stores to publishers – is immense.

Reach your users with unlimited push notifications
An example of fully customizable push notifications in-app, with a MobiLoud app

Should Your Business Build a Mobile App or a Website?

So, with all the data on the average time spent on apps, as well as the clear benefits for both users and brands, does that mean a business in 2023 should build an app instead of a mobile website?

While apps are definitely more effective with mobile users, there’s no need to choose one or the other. The best strategy is to have both.

A mobile app helps you boost engagement for mobile users, and build a loyal customer base. But you still need a well-optimized, responsive mobile website. Your website serves new users who find you from Google, or who are not quite ready to download your app.

Using the right mobile app technology, you can maintain an app and a website, with a consistent UX across both platforms, without significant investment or adding much to your workflow.

This is a winning strategy for brands in 2023, allowing them to capture the massive popularity of apps vs websites.

How to Convert Your Mobile Website to an App

If you already have a mobile website, you don’t need to build a new platform from scratch. It’s easy to convert what you already have into a mobile app, and enjoy the best of both worlds – without the time, money and hassle of launching a custom-built app.

This is what MobiLoud does for you. It converts your website into an app that you can publish in the app stores, and users can download onto their own devices.

The your app and mobile website will be 100% in sync. Update anything on your site, and your app updates at the same time.

MobiLoud converts your existing website to a user-friendly mobile app.

This app gives you 95% of what a custom native app does, with the added benefits:

  • Faster to launch. Instead of waiting 6-9 months, you can launch your app in under a month.
  • More affordable. The cost of building a native app ranges from $20,000 to over $150,000 (for each operating system). And that’s not including the cost of maintaining your app, which runs into the tens of thousands per year. MobiLoud apps cost as little as 1-2% of this.
  • Synced with your mobile website. No additional platform to manage, no need to reinvent the wheel. Use everything that already works on your website.
  • No coding, no project management required. You don’t need to hire and/or manage developers. We do all the heavy lifting under the hood.
  • Service, maintenance and updates included. Our team provides all of this. You focus on growing your brand.

Wrapping Up: Convert Your Website to an App Today

Today’s consumers are not just mobile-crazy. They’re app-crazy. People prefer to consumer content or interact with brands on apps, which the data backs up.

The mobile strategy from top brands today includes both a mobile website and a mobile app. They acquire new users via their website, before converting them into loyal app users.

It’s never been easier and more accessible to launch your own app. MobiLoud makes the process simple. No matter what platform your website is built on

It’s perfect for WordPress sites, WooCommerce Stores, Shopify stores, sites built on Squarespace, Webflow, React, Laravel, PHP and much more.

Feel out the process and learn more with a free, personalized demo. Let our app experts show you how easy it is to level up your mobile user experience, and take your brand to the next level.