The right start for your App startup

Native vs Web and best practices

Developing a mobile app is an exciting endeavor, but one of the most critical decisions you'll need to make is whether to build a native app or a web app. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one will greatly impact your app's success. In this article, we'll explore the differences between native and web apps, and provide you with the necessary information to make an informed decision for your app development journey.

Understanding Native Apps

Native apps are specifically built for a particular platform, such as iOS for Apple devices or Android for Samsung devices. These apps are downloaded and installed through app stores and have access to the device's system resources, such as GPS and the camera. Popular examples of native apps include Snapchat, Instagram, Google Maps, and Facebook Messenger.

The Pros of Native Apps

  1. Improved Usability: Native apps are designed specifically for the device they are used on, resulting in a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

  2. Optimal Performance: Native apps have access to the entire feature set of the operating system, resulting in smoother performance and fewer glitches.

  3. Single Customized Code Base: Developing native apps is simpler and more streamlined, as developers code for one platf

    orm at a time, rather than trying to use a single code base across multiple operating systems.

The Cons of Native Apps

  1. Specialization Required: Building native apps requires finding a team of developers who specialize in the specific platforms, such as Android or iOS.

  2. Separate Development Efforts: Developing an app for both Android and iPhone requires two separate development efforts, which can increase development time and cost. There are cross platform framework like React Native and Angular but the release cycle effort is still significant.

  3. Slower Iteration: Each release on IOS need to approved which can take some time. And also it depend on the user to update the App to receive the update. There are some workarounds to release minor UI changes without release but most of them still need to go through approval process.

Exploring Web Apps

Web apps, on the other hand, are accessed through internet browsers and can adapt to any device. They are not native to a specific system and do not need to be downloaded or installed. Web apps are designed to look and function like mobile apps, leading to some confusion between the two. 

The Pros of Web Apps

  1. Easy Maintenance: Web apps use standard website development coding, making them easy to maintain and update.

  2. Improved Speed to Market: Web apps can be built and released faster since they do not require approval from app stores or marketplaces.

  3. Accessibility: Web apps can be accessed through any browser on any device, regardless of the operating system.

  4. Traffic Potential: Web apps can attract traffic from search engines and can be easily accessed by website visitors on mobile devices without the need for downloads.

The Cons of Web Apps

  1. Internet Connectivity Required: Web apps require an active internet connection, limiting their accessibility in offline situations.

  2. Instability: Web apps may face issues due to differences and changes in web browsers, leading to higher maintenance requirements.

  3. Limited Device Feature Accessibility: Web apps have limitations in accessing a device's native features, potentially limiting their functionality.

  4. No App Store and Marketplace Access: Web apps may not be as discoverable as native apps since they are not listed in specific app stores or marketplaces.

Making the Right Decision

When deciding between native, web, or hybrid app development, consider the following factors:

  1. Clarity on Ideas and Roadmap: Define your app's goals and roadmap to determine which development method aligns best with your vision.

  2. User Adoption and Task Requirements: Consider whether your users require a mobile app or if a web app would suffice for their needs.

  3. User Demographics and Tech Maturity: Analyze your target audience's demographics and their comfort level with mobile technology.

  4. Company Capabilities: Assess your team's capabilities and resources to determine if you can handle native app development or if web app development is a better fit.

  5. Agility vs. Engagement: Consider the trade-off between faster development and broader accessibility (web apps) versus optimal performance and user experience (native apps).

The Right Approach

A recommended approach is to start with a web app and then, as your product matures, begin developing a native app. This method allows for faster iterations and initial design with a web app, while still providing the opportunity to enhance user experience with a native app later on. However, if your product is already validated and heavily relies on superior user experience, starting directly with a native app may be a more suitable approach.

If you decide to go with PWA approach you can do the following things to enhance the user experience-

  1. Encourage user to Add to Home Screen: Make sure users add the website URL to home screen for a better experience. This would enable background service worker to make the app offline and also enable a rich native like experience with notifications and full screen.

  2. Make Native looking UI Design: Your UI design should be more mobile optimised with focus on touch experience. Use gestures, bigger touch area, button instead of links and other native copying aspect for immersive experience.

  3. Use SPA frameworks for Development: Single Page Application ( SPA ) are type of frameworks that transition page without needing to reload the whole website like traditional webpages. This gives user the illusion of fluid native experience. Frameworks like NextJS, ReactJS, Angular provide this out of the box.

  4. Resolve Browser Issues: There are some issues with PWA rich experience that are caused due to web framework. Things like double scroll, hiding top or bottom nav button, waterfall loading might sometime annoy users but there are ways around to solve these issues as well like using overflow-hidden, fixed nav button, skeleton loading etc.

In conclusion, the decision to build a native, web, or hybrid app depends on your specific requirements and goals. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your app's objectives and provides the best possible user experience.

Remember, the success of your app ultimately depends on meeting the needs of your users. Whether you choose a native, web, or hybrid app, prioritize usability, performance, and engagement to create an app that stands out in the competitive mobile landscape.

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