Clash of Clans developer Supercell had a simple answer when asked to expand its offerings to include a desktop version of its most profitable mobile app.

They said, “No.”

With nearly $1 billion in profits in 2015 and a line of successful games in the Apple Store’s Top 40 list, many find it perplexing that this mobile app powerhouse refused to branch out into other arenas. But Supercelland many other companies—argue that mobile apps have a unique environment that’s virtually impossible to replicate in a desktop setting. For instance, mobile apps can utilize device hardware such as sensors, the device’s camera and GPS. As a result, a desktop version of the game would likely pale in comparison to the original mobile incarnation.

But what about cases where a web-based interface precedes the mobile app? Does the mobile website offer any insight or data that your developer can leverage when setting out to build a new mobile application?

Are There Benefits of Developing a Mobile Website Before You Build an App?

If you’re planning to build a web-based platform and a mobile app, then it can be helpful to begin with the mobile website, as it’s a simpler project that could provide some useful information on user paths and user behaviors. But it would not be cost-effective to build a mobile website solely for the purpose of having a testing ground.

Developing a mobile app is quite different than developing a mobile site. This is particularly true when dealing with native app development, which provides an opportunity to leverage the functions, hardware and features unique to a particular operating system and device type. These opportunities generally do not exist in a website environment. Therefore, the website is a more basic, bare bones version of the interface, while the mobile app is a more fully-realized user interface (UI) with a broader range of features and functionalities.

Still, a mobile website can help you glean some useful data in the following areas:

  • You’ll gain insight into popular user paths and behaviors, helping you decide what elements to keep or discard when developing the mobile app.
  • You can determine which new UI design elements may promote a better user experience (UX).
  • The mobile website provides an opportunity to gather user feedback and recommendations for new features/functions.
  • Designers can evaluate the basic layout and its impact on UX.

Comparing mobile websites and mobile apps is akin to comparing apples and oranges. It’s important to acknowledge the fact that mobile websites have limitations, such as the conventional menu drop down or the expectation of scrolling up and down instead of swiping left and right. Also, if the app intends to use mobile hardware such as an accelerometer or GPS, the mobile website won’t have that functionality. In addition, remember that users are likely to interact with the mobile app in a slightly different way, so it may be impossible to draw direct parallels, especially with native apps. Hybrid apps, on the other hand, tend to share more commonalities with a mobile site.

Mobile Websites Can Be One Component of Your Development Plan

Mobile websites should be viewed as one piece of the larger development puzzle. After all, web-based platforms do have some benefits, such as:

  • Easy updates: There’s no need for users to download a new version of your website; the updated interface is instantly accessible when it’s launched.
  • Indexed by Google and other search engines: This trait spells far greater visibility.
  • Relatively affordable to maintain: A web-based interface can be coded in simple HTML5 and Javascript, which will work across multiple platforms. As such, web-based platforms are a good choice for those seeking a presence beyond the app store. In fact, many companies use their mobile websites to drive traffic to their app store listings.

These advantages mean many clients can benefit from having a mobile website in addition to a mobile application. However, it should be noted that web-based interfaces simply have not evolved to a point where they are truly comparable to or competitive with mobile apps.

Get Started on Your Mobile App Development Strategy

If you’re seeking a qualified mobile app developer, the Dallas-based tech experts with SevenTablets are here to help. We craft a diverse range of mobile solutions, from predictive analytics engines to military-grade security features and virtually any feature or functionality you can dream up. What’s more, our team achieves those objectives at a fraction of the cost thanks to our open source STAX development platform—an interface that can result in a time and financials saving of 30% to 40%.

While our offices are headquartered in Dallas, we also maintain regional offices in Austin and Houston. In addition to serving clients throughout the Texas Triangle, we assist clients nationwide in a variety of different industries, including manufacturing, finance and network marketing. We invite you to contact us today to learn more.

Reach out to our team today!

Venkatesh Kalluru

Venkatesh Kalluru

Chief Technologist, Head of Engineering at SevenTablets
Venkatesh “VK” Kalluru is a technology and business expert with executive and hands-on experience in automating multi-million dollar enterprises and a strong record of success in creating robust information technology architectures and infrastructures. VK brings proven ability in using IT to solve business issues to the SevenTablets team.

VK studied computer science at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad, India and earned a Master’s Degree in computer science at George Mason University.
Venkatesh Kalluru