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How does mobile app development differ from website development?

You’re scratching your head about the ins and outs of web vs mobile app development. If you’re researching web vs mobile development and finding it confusing, we’re here to clarify things for you. It’s an important distinction, and one we’re very familiar with as a trusted, highly experienced  B2B website design agency. Read on for a plain English explanation of web app vs mobile app. By the end of this article you’ll know which you need, understand the differences, and feel confident in your new knowledge.

How are mobile apps built

So you need to know the difference between mobile and web development. Let’s dive in. First, how are mobile apps built? A mobile app is developed individually for each platform, for example iOS for the iPhone and Android for Google. You need to start from scratch for each platform.

Native mobile apps are built using specific languages and Integrated Development Environments. Each platform comes with its own development tools, interface elements, and software development kits. Users download and install them via an app store, and they access system resources like GPS, sound, and cameras. A mobile app sits and runs on the device you’re using. The most popular mobile apps include Instagram and Google Maps.

There’s more to say about web vs mobile app development. You access web apps differently, via an internet browser. The app automatically adapts to the device you’re using, not being restricted to a certain system. There’s no downloading or installing, they live online. Because they’re so responsive they look and work very like mobile apps, and that’s why so many people get the two confused. 


So what are the pros of mobile apps? Web app vs mobile app system resources matter, making mobile apps a lot faster than web apps. Because mobile apps have access to such a broad range of system resources, they also tend to give you a lot more functionality. You can use them offline without an internet connection. And because they’re supposed to be carefully checked and approved by the app store before they’re made available to the public, they tend to be safe and secure. All this means they’re also easier to build.


Mobile apps cost more to develop than web apps. Because the apps need to work on different platforms, as we mentioned, they have to be compatible, which means designing for each platform from scratch. They’re also costly to maintain and update, and it can be a challenge to get a native app approved by app stores.

How are standard websites built

Next in our web vs mobile app development journey, let’s examine standard websites. So how are standard websites built? Web apps tend to be built using JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and programming frameworks like ASP.NET. There isn’t a standard software development kit for building web apps, although developers have access to handy templates. They’re almost always faster and easier to build compared to  mobile apps, but there’s a downside – they also come with fewer features so are a lot simpler.


It’s more cost effective to build a web app than a mobile app. Because there’s no need for compatibility with different platforms like iOS and Android, the one codebase used by developers should work across every kind of browser, saving time and effort. They’re cheaper to look after and update because there’s only one thing to maintain instead of a design that differs across multiple platforms. They’re also essential when you’re keen to achieve great natural search visibility - they can be indexed by Google and so can be found by people when searching the web. 


How about mobile and web development cons? Web apps don’t work offline, you need an internet connection to use them. They’re slower than mobile apps, as well as simpler in terms of features. Because they’re not listed specifically on an app store, they can be hard for people to find even though they’re indexable by Google. And because they don’t need approval from app stores, the quality and security can be less than perfect.

Key differences

Next, let’s look at the key differences between web app vs mobile app. They’re all important in terms of making the right decision for your business, the purpose of the app, the audience it should cater for, and the business goals you’ve set for it. 

  • Speed of the app – mobile apps work faster than web apps. A well-designed mobile app performs actions much quicker because these apps stash data locally on mobile devices, instead of web servers. Because it’s faster to retrieve the data used by mobile apps, they work faster
  • App functionality – mobile apps tend to provide more functionality than web apps because they can access such a wide range of system resources
  • How easy apps are to design – mobile apps have to be compatible with different platforms. They’re more complex to design than web apps simply because each platform comes with its own unique set of design and development needs
  • The costs involved in designing them – Mobile app design involves designing for multiple platforms, usually at least two – iOS and Android. This means they’re more expensive to develop
  • Cost of upkeep – The shifting needs of different platforms means it costs more to develop a mobile app. Each platform needs to be developed in a specific way
  • Security of the apps – Mobile apps usually find a home on an app store or other kind of database. The entry specifications are strict since platforms don’t want to wreck their reputations by stocking insecure or even dangerous apps

Need web design Oxford?

Now you’re familiar with the differences between web vs mobile app development. While we don’t create Mobile Apps as a standard offering, we do design beautiful, stylish, hard-working, mobile responsive websites that work perfectly to attract people and keep them keen. Come talk to our friendly team to find out more, explore the potential, and pin down which type of app will suit your business goals best.

Give us a call on 01844 888 777
or contact us.

Intuitiv Digital

2 Bridge Road
Ickford, nr Thame
HP18 9HX