Coteries Web Development Agency Mobile apps vs Web Apps

You have an application project. Before contacting an agency or recruiting a software developer, it’s necessary to know more about the different possibilities.

Being realistic, there is no right or wrong solution… but you need to make a choice!

Defining which type of application you want to develop is an important decision and you need to think about it carefully. Developing an app is usually a big project.

Hopefully at this point you already have a good understanding of your market, being through a market study or user interviews. You have an idea that seems feasible with an identified target group.

This may seem obvious to you, but validating the basic assumptions of your project (for instance with the Value Proposition Canvas) is essential. If nobody needs your application, nobody will use it and you won’t generate any revenue from it!

Plus it’s absolutely necessary to know whom you’re targeting. Otherwise, how are you going to design an app that someone will like? Before starting the development, you need to work on the conception and the User Experience (UX). And to test each new feature with real future users to ensure the user experience quality.

If you need help with your audience definition and marketing strategy, we also have a team of marketing experts that can help you.

Your target market is clear and you really think you have something that can take off? Great!

Then let’s help you decide whether developing a web app or a mobile app is more fitting.

Web applications: build fast products available for all

What is a web app?

All web apps are websites, but not all websites are web apps.

Was this confusing? Okay, let’s go one step back.

Essentially, a web app is an interactive application accessible online. It should not be mistaken with websites that are mostly static, information-only sites.

Your local pizzeria website will be less interactive than Facebook, for example, where the former is a website and the latter a web app.

The main difference is that web apps offer a more immersive and interactive experience, using more advanced technologies.

Websites on the other hand may allow you to scroll or click to consume information, but a web app optimizes the user experience (UX).

What are the advantages of developing a web application?

Platform accessibility

As they are accessible via a browser, web applications are multi-platform. Whether you are on Android, iOS, a Firefox browser or an older version of Windows, it’s most likely to work.

You’re not excluding potential users who’d be on the “wrong” mobile device.

Development time

Development time for web apps is usually shorter even if you’re using a cross-platform mobile development language (i.e., Flutter).


It’s the cheaper option of the two. Web applications are often less expensive and require fewer resources.


The development team can always push an update at any time, so that all users will have the latest version of your web app available.

What are the downsides of building a web application?

Less interaction with users

There is much less interaction with web apps compared to mobile apps.

If you have news to share, you can’t just send a push notification that users will read immediately. Sure, you can send them an email or even text messages, but the effect isn’t as instant, and it’s not as interactive. A good counter-example are the newspapers’ web applications, which are also proposing web browser notifications (but few people really use this option).


The multi-platform nature of web applications can have some compatibility issues. It’s possible that some features might not work as intended on older browser versions. It is rare, but it can happen.

When should you get a web app?

You need an MVP (= Minimum Viable Product)

If you want to have an MVP developed (a “minimum viable product”, i.e. the smallest set of features you need to start making money), we usually recommend you to start with a simple web application.

MVPs are great to quickly test an idea and see if further development can be done (and, why not, gaining some traction of the market!). You can launch the application quite quickly and, given the success of the MVP, develop new features.

Unless you are confident the main use-case will be mobile, we strongly suggest creating a web app for an MVP.

You do not have a web presence

If your project is brand new, with no web presence yet, it’s best to start with a web application. You can always have a mobile application in the future.

Your app has many features

Will your app have a lot of various features? Will there be advanced manipulation involved?

For example, take the web application Figma, to create digital interfaces and more. No one would want to do all that work on a mobile application, it’s just not feasible.

Working on the design of with Figma's interface

Which type of use is expected from your users?

Another factor to consider is the type of use by your future users. Are they going to primarily use it within a professional environment or in front of their laptop?

Let’s take again the Figma example. A web application is ways more adapted in this case, as users need to produce interfaces and contents.

Or your application should be used in any kind of places and with every kind of device?

Mobile application: focus on loyalty and interactions

Mobile applications offer a choice: use native or hybrid technologies.

Native apps are built specifically for the platforms they are run on: iOS or Android. You want your app to be available on iOS? You will need developers that know the Swift programming languages. Do you want to create an Android mobile app? You will need Kotlin or Java.

Hybrid technologies also exist, like Flutter, allowing developers to have one code base (one version of the code). Even though these technologies speed up development time, some platform-specific development is required and do not always make everything that easier.

Do not hesitate to read our blog article “22 Questions to answer before building a mobile application” or to talk to our developers about your specific needs if you decide to create a mobile application!

What are the advantages of creating a mobile application?

Stronger brand image

A mobile app will help you stand out from the competition. And will also be referenced on the Apple AppStore or the Google PlayStore.

It’s also a nice additional marketing bonus: they see your icon constantly on their phone (however, it’s also possible to install an icon on your smartphone with a web application!).

More accessibility

More than half of internet users are also mobile internet users, so being easily available to download on a mobile device is where you want to be.

Customer Relationship

Push notifications make mobile apps far more interactive. Users can easily be notified of any news, updates, and necessary information, helping optimize the communication speed.

Easily reminding users of the app’s existence will also ensure they come back to the app again.

Leverage devices capabilities

A mobile app can use a phone’s features such as the camera, microphone, GPS.

Not all of these features are – easily – accessible with web apps, due to browser limitations for security reasons.

Indeed, we might not be very comfortable if every website could have full access to our documents or see other devices on our network!

Higher Sales

All these factors give a higher chance of loyalty. And with loyalty also comes higher chances of paying customers, thus sales. In-application purchases are also easier and quicker in mobile applications.

Current statistics and trends are showing a continuous and rapid growth in revenues for the mobile app industry.

What are the downsides of developing a mobile application?

Longer development time and higher budgets

Mobile apps take longer to develop, and are therefore often more expensive.

Harder to convince

It’s becoming harder to convince users to download a mobile application.

Mobile apps are usually downloaded further along the user journey, once they’ve already explored your website and want to switch to the mobile app for better interaction and speed.

Keep older features

Users can also skip updates, forcing the development team to support older features, respectively to maintain the compatibility of older operating systems (iOS9 for instance).

When should you get a mobile app?

Your app is meant to consume content

As mentioned, mobile apps are better for consuming content. Your favorite social, weather or news apps are great for quickly scrolling through content for example.

You have an existing customer base

You already have customers that know your brand, and you reach them through certain channels already.

Having a loyal following makes it more likely for you to succeed with a mobile app. It’s a logical next step to bring customers further along the customer journey, increase loyalty, and beat out the competition.

You already have a web application

Perhaps you even have a web application already, and only needed extra convincing to create a mobile app.

Developing a mobile app can also help to expand your existing customer base, or allow you to introduce new features you couldn’t develop on a web app.

You offer specific features

Mobile applications support certain features better than a web app.

If your app relies heavily on map navigation, a music player or an easy camera access, you’ll want to opt for a mobile application.

Deciding on a web or mobile app

You should now have a much clearer idea of whether to develop a mobile or a web application for your project.

To make it a little easier, here is a small recap:

  • Web apps are better for being multiplatform, having automatic updates, the development time, the lower budgets and the accessibility
  • Mobile apps are better for stronger brand image, user relationship, device capabilities, loyalty and sales

After all, it all depends on your idea, business, project or goals.

If you’re still not sure about what to opt for, contact us to discuss your project and decide which solution you should get!