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Mobile Applications - What Is An 'App'?

HOME >> MOBILE APPLICATIONS - WHAT IS AN APP

Author: Mark Birkett

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Definition of an 'App':

An 'app' is quite simply an abbreviation of the word 'application'. In modern parlance, this is usually taken as a reference to 'apps' on mobile devices - such as the iPhone, iPad, Android or Blackberry.

The 'Mobile Internet':

In this article, we'll be discussing and defining the term 'app' and what it might mean for your business. But to help us do that, we need to consider the 'mobile' revolution'. As you may well have realised, less than three years ago hardly anyone was accessing websites using a mobile device. That's all changed - whether we like it or not. The 'Holy Grail of the Web' has now finally presented itself; perhaps best described as:

"Broadband-On-The-Move".

Dalemedia can build a stunning mobile application ('App') for your business - from a simple £499 'mobile-friendly' version of your website all the way to a fully-functioning bespoke application (£POA) that can harness end-user devices' GPS and accelerometer functions...

What are the figures for mobile Web browsing?

Many of your customers are making the clear transition from desktop to mobile browsing. In fact, on some of our clients' websites, statistics are showing that anything up to 50% of visitors are viewing sites via some sort of mobile device, and that trend is certain to continue.

As you might imagine, this presents web design companies like ours with a significant challenge. We not only need to design for a multitude of different desktop monitor resolutions, we now also need to consider what our clients' websites look like on mobiles too.

But why does this matter so much?

Well, hand-held devices like the iPad, the iPhone, the Blackberry and the Android all have considerably smaller screen widths upon which to lay out a website's information. So what might look great on a 1920-pixels-wide desktop screen may look terrible on a screen only 320 pixels wide. Designing a website that will work well on all these platforms is a big technological challenge.

What does mobile Web browsing mean for my business?

From your point of view - i.e. when considering a new website or upgrading an existing one - it's also a market-driven challenge. After all, if your competitor's website works beautifully on both mobile devices and desktops, and yours only looks good on a desktop, it's not difficult to envisage what will happen next.

The good news is that there are a number of solutions to this and we'll come to those in a moment.

But before we get to that, the most important consideration for your business is to understand how mobile users are already using your website. You need to establish whether most are browsing your entire website or simply trying to find your contact details and a location map so that they can get in touch.

Until you know the answer to this, making a decision about the 'mobile revolution' is difficult.

OK. But how can I tell what my 'mobile' visitors are doing?

The answer is to put Google Analytics to use. It's a great FREE tool which we can install for you absolutely FREE. It will tell you exactly what your mobile users are doing when they view your website. And that research will help to drive any decision you then make about any new website. For example, if you know that a significant chunk of your visitors are using their mobiles to look at your site, then sooner or later you will need to at least consider some of the options detailed below.

And that means getting used to the term 'app'.

OK, so what's an ‘App’?

There are four rather loose definitions of what constitutes an ‘app’. We can certainly design and build any of them but it will help to identify which is best for your business if we discuss each of them in some detail.

  1. A 'Mobile Friendly' and 'Responsive' Website:

    In essence, this is simply a website that has been built and sized to display well on smaller-screen mobile devices. It generally takes two forms;

    • Standalone 'Mobile-Friendly' Website:

      This is where we build an additional series of webpages for your existing website which contain coding that recognises the end user device as a mobile or as a standard desktop. This coding then automatically directs the user to the pages best suited to their device.

      In most cases, this 'mobile-friendly' site would probably contain a reduced quantity of information from your main website; typically your logo at the top, followed by condensed products and services information, a basic location map and your contact details.


      (see our £499 - Mobile-Friendly Website Design Package)

    • 'Responsive' Mobile-Friendly Website:

      This is where we build your entire main website such that it 'responds intelligently' to the device's screen width and presents the same information but with different menu styling in order to suit the wide screens of desktops or the small screens of mobiles.


      (see our £1,999 - WordPress Responsive Mobile-Friendly Website Design Package)

  2. A 'Native' Application (i.e. independent of an Internet connection):

    This is a self-contained software application that can be fully downloaded en bloc to an end-user mobile device. Some, or even all, of the app’s functionality would therefore not necessarily require an Internet connection. A good example of such a self-contained App might be a game of Solitaire, where there is clearly no pressing need for constant ‘live’ data.

    The most complex of these 'native apps' can also harness the accelerometers inside certain devices (like the iPad and iPhone) to create dazzling effects. A great example is the iPad application that allows you to 'view the night sky' by pointing the device skyward and 'see' the various planets and stars with textual information next to each one. This is not possible unless 3-dimensional accelerometers are built in.

  3. A 'Web Based' Application (i.e. reliant on an Internet connection):

    This is a Web-based software application where the viewable data is always downloaded ‘live’ from the Web. Most, if not all, of the features and functionality would disappear if no Internet connection were available on the device. In essence, this is a website that has been built and sized to display well on smaller-screen mobile devices yet with touchscreen and perhaps some GPS (i.e. location-based) functionality added in.


  4. A 'Hybrid' Application (i.e. a combination of the two above):

    A ‘hybrid’ of the second two methods above. This is where the main application interface and much of the functionality is downloaded into the device’s memory but where certain functions still allow for ‘live’ data to appear on request. Again, it's also where we incorporate touchscreen and some GPS (i.e. location-based) functionality.

    (see our £2,499 Web-Based 'Touchscreen' ‘Hybrid’ Application)

Which ‘App’ is best for my business?

Whilst we are perfectly able to build any of the above-mentioned types of apps, our considered view is that most clients are best served by one of the price packages shown below;

Our 'mobile solutions' start at just £499.00. For further details, call us on 01706 345648 today.

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