Mobile Websites vs. Mobile Apps

Most recently at a conference I was asked which mobile option should a church take, a mobile website or a mobile app? This question seemed to quickly get the attention of all the attendees at the conference because a strange hush came over the room in anticipation of my answer. Thus, I took a deep breath and said with all confidence, “ let me explain”. I am a proponent of mobile apps, I thoroughly love my iphone and ipad and the numerous (128) apps that I have installed. I also have an Android phone with apps installed as well. The apps and their native integration into the operating system of the phone makes their usage much easier than a mobile website. Unfortunately, apps are phone specific and each app is limited to the phones that have that operating system, while mobile websites can be programmed for numerous phone because all of the latest smartphones have HTML5 Webkit enabled updated mobile web browsers.

A mobile website is the first step in a mobile web strategy therefore prior to a church investing in mobile apps, they should create a mobile website. One mobile website can encompass numerous mobile smartphones and that should be the focus of the mobile website, to reach as many mobile devices as possible. Initially, I used to say to only create a HTML Webkit enabled mobile website that will work with the latest mobile browsers but after attending the Biola Digital Ministry Conference, I learned that an even more scaled down mobile website should be created by the church to reach people in developing countries with limited mobile access. People in developing countries most often can only access the internet from mobile devices that have slow connections and therefore your church mobile website for this audience should load very quickly and not have too much going on. Remember, in order to do this you need to create a high level mobile website and a low level mobile website and program it to load either site depending on the connection and mobile device the user is on.

Therefore, let’s recap, if you are creating a mobile strategy for your church you first want to create a mobile website that can reach numerous mobile devices. Next, you want to create mobile apps for the iphone/ipad, next android, and finally windows mobile devices since those seem to be gaining attention as of the last few months. What’s your mobile strategy for your church or business?