Mobile ! More and more, businesses have the need to cater for mobile. How their communications are viewed on these devices, whether users can purchase products on them, contact points, imagery and search functionality all are being geared to a user’s experience on mobile devices. There are more people on them and they are on them longer. Is a website enough or does a business need an 'app' on these mobiles ?
Let’s talk ‘techy’ for a moment.
Traditionally, there are a couple of different ways to address producing for mobile. Leveraging browser based technology (HTML5) or creating a native app for the device. There are pros and cons to both.
Browser based tech
Technologies like HTML5 are often used when coding for mobile devices. It’s the same language used when developing for the web. Developers don’t have to write code that differs from a website and as long as the user’s browser is HTML5 compliant (most now are), everyone gets the same user experience whether they are on an iPhone, Android, tablet or desktop device. They also only have to produce the content once for all to see. The downside is that to cater for all the various devices, developers have to factor to the lowest common denominator and/or have various options added for each potential user’s platform. Add to this the need to rely on the operating system's (OS) webview to render the application and the performance is slowed down to the end user.
Creating a native app is for the moment, considered to be the optimal approach to delivering content to a mobile device. A developer can code specifically for the device and therefore utilise extra features like accessing a users calendar or contacts. User experience is enhanced, the app can utilise native OS components that work more consistently and smoothly than a browser based app and there are no cross-platform requirements to slow it down. There are a few downsides – developers have to code multiple versions as they are customising for each platform (iOS, Android, etc); they have to learn specific languages to code like Objective-C, Java or Swift; and different devices can potentially deliver different experiences which can confuse the user if they switch devices and access your app. From an end result, native apps are also generally far more time consuming to create and therefore more expensive to the client.
A new player
In the last couple of years, Facebook denounced HTML5 as a base platform for its apps and created ‘React Native’. This new platform allows developers to utilise web technologies but unlike when using HTML5, the application’s interface is rendered the same way as a native app and uses native components. This allows a developer to ditch the compromises traditionally made when coding in HTML5. This allows them to deliver the same user experience to all customers for significantly less time/cost but utilise the native capabilities of every device.
It wasn’t too long ago that when we considered 'mobile', we built a mobile version of a website (creating two actual websites). Then came responsive design that adapted a website’s user experience based on screen size eliminating the need for a second 'mobile' site. Now we are also creating apps with functionality based on individual devices that compliment a responsive website, imitate their desktop application counterparts or in fact stand alone as a communication piece independent of other digital mediums.
When choosing a digital partner, it’s important that a discussion is had regarding who you want to talk to, what you want to say and how you plan to say it. The Digital Embassy’s strength is in our understanding of not only strategy, design and content planning, but the tech side of how to deliver the best user experience across multiple platforms taking into account the latest technology and resources. In the fast moving digital space, tech improvements and advances are a daily occurrence. We stay on top of the latest developments so that you don’t need to. If you are interested in what’s next and how your brand can be at the forefront of the latest technology, begin a conversation here.