If your business needs an application developed, you need to consider some early questions before you can get started. One of these questions is whether you want to design a native app or a web app. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between the two and outline why you might select one or the other.
What is a native app?
A native app is an app that is designed to work on a specific platform, such as iOS or Android. A native app is generally built in a specific coding language that performs best on that platform and will be fast, responsive and optimised for users on that specific system.
Benefits of a native app
- Increased performance: a native app will often outperform a cross-platform app because it has been designed for the specific conventions of the platform itself.
- Better user experience: apps built for a specific platform can be better designed around the core elements of the platform. For example, iOS native apps will utilise iOS-specific iconography/interactive elements/features.
- Easier access to native device features: many native apps can use platform-specific hardware like device cameras etc whereas web apps may take more work to deliver similar results.
- Offline capabilities: native apps can often be used without any internet connection once they have been downloaded to a user’s device.
What is a web app?
A web app is a software application that is accessed via a web browser over a network. Web apps are designed to be used by everyone regardless of their level of technical expertise and are not tied to any specific device or hardware requirement. They are easy to access and make data safer by not storing it on a user’s device.
Their goal is to make it as easy and consistent as possible for users to interact with the app regardless of what device they use. A well-designed web app will offer a similar experience on any device, whether that’s a powerful gaming desktop PC or a budget smartphone.
Benefits of a web app
- Increased portability: web apps can be used anywhere that a user can establish an internet connection, which means they can access it through virtually any device at any point of their day. It allows teams to build software that can be used on a team PC, then accessed at home via mobile or tablet or even on a commute.
- More efficient development process:: while a native app might offer ideal performance for a specific platform, it limits your ability to reach other customers. In a similar timeframe, a development team can create a web app that works across all devices and therefore maximises exposure and interaction at a similar cost.
- Improved scalability: a web app can be easily iterated upon and will grow as it is used. Unlike a platform-specific native app where all updates must be approved to the specific demands of the Play Store or Apple Store, a web app can be managed internally and output can be controlled.
- Better UX: in a platform-specific app, users are limited to the design conventions of that platform. In a web app, developers are free to explore the most valuable user experience changes and offer them free of platform interference.
Native vs web apps
Most businesses fail to even think of web apps as they’re too focused on deciding between native apps or cross-platform ones which are built using tools like React Native. A cross-platform app uses a central framework or code base to develop a ‘version’ of the app for each platform. However, this essentially ties each version to the same constraints we listed for native apps.
A web app is a more free-form version of your product that can be kept safe, secure and accessible in a more efficient way. Web apps don’t need to be installed, don’t store user data and are device-agnostic, so they are more cost-effective in terms of development time.
Here at Increment By One, we specialise in developing web applications for a wide range of sectors. These apps help businesses just like yours automate laborious processes or innovate to improve customer satisfaction. If you’ve got an idea for a digital app and you’re unsure whether to go native or web, get in touch for a friendly chat about the benefits of both.