Web Apps Vs Native Apps: A Product Designer’s Perspective
Technology / September, 10 2020
One of the major decisions enterprises face early on in the mobile app development process is building a native app, web app of the two. This decision not only influences the overall design of a mobile product but also impacts how users interact with your specific product.
Inevitably, this will dictate the varying aspects and requirements you outline in your product requirements document that will ultimately communicate to your product team what to build, who for, and how it benefits the end-user. How much will it cost and how long will it take?
But those aren’t your only considerations if you want to give your target audience the kind of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) they expect in this day and age. Weighing up your options between a native app and a web app can be laborious in itself, so I’ve compiled the pros and cons of each route to help you make a call. Let’s take a look:
Advantages Of Web Apps:
They Are More Accessible To Everybody
Making websites and web applications accessible to everyone increases the number of possible visitors, users, or customers the site or app can attract; it may provide significant financial benefits, and accessibility is the proper thing to do legally and morally. Thanks to the lack of platform restrictions, web apps can be used anywhere at any time from any device. They are accessible through any browser, too, so there’s no need for the design to be held back; there is only one UX.
They Can Be More Cost-Effective
Web apps are typically considered to be more affordable than their native equivalents thanks to the fact that you don’t need to design and build for multiple platforms. A web app is a responsive website that users can launch in the mobile device browser or on their desktop computer. Web apps can be designed to look good on any device, including a desktop, tablet, and phone. Since they rely on the browser, web apps work with any operating system, making them a faster and more cost-effective option.
They Don’t Need To Be Downloaded From An App Store
There’s no need for people to search around an app store and download anything, including updates. The web app is in one place and is updated in one place, so it’s easier for everyone.
They Are Always Up-To-Date
Anyone who uses a web-based app is always running the latest version. Always Up To Date – As everyone is accessing the same version of the web app via a URL, they will always be accessing the most up-to-date version of the software. This means that it’s much easier for designers to integrate new ideas and functionality and solve problems related to the UX — and much quicker, too.
Disadvantages Of Web Apps
They Can Be Time-Consuming To Test
Testing is necessary no matter the platform, design, or build, but testing in multiple browsers to ensure full compatibility for every user is a painstaking process. Without it, though, there’d be no point in the app in the first place.
They Have Lower User Expectations
People don’t expect the same kind of UX they get from a native app in a web app, so it can often take them a bit of time to get used to the differences in functionality and the general nuances of a web-based experience.
They Are Typically Slower Than Native Apps
It is generally so that web apps are slower than native apps because not all browsers will perform at the same rate as a new smartphone. This can affect the UX, but the design can be approached in a different way so as to reduce the load times, for instance, so there are workarounds.
Advantages Of Native Apps
They Are Faster And More Stable Than Web Apps
Google and Apple regulate all apps that make it into their stores. If it’s not up to their high standards of design, functionality, and UX, it won’t make the cut. This means that only the most reliable apps tend to make it.
They Can Be Used Offline
Depending on their purpose, some apps can be used without an internet connection, which means extra creative freedom when it comes to UX. Users can lose connectivity but will expect everything to sync and work when it is restored, so a designer must get to grips with how to manage expectations in this sense.
They Provide Focus For Designers And Developers
The very nature of a purpose-built app is such that it is created with a specific purpose in mind. This means that designers know exactly the sort of experience that will make the grade, thanks to testing, branding, and a familiarity with the general standard of UX in the market today. People use native apps all the time, so they expect them to be easy to use.
They Offer Additional Functionality Opportunities
Designers can have a bit more freedom when it comes to mapping out the user journey in accordance with the available functionality on a device. Cameras, microphones, and compasses, amongst many other features, can be built into the experience, which makes the whole process a lot more creative.
Disadvantages Of Native Apps
They Still Have The Same User Expectations Across Devices And Operating Systems
Regardless of the fact that the design and build must be approached in different ways for different devices, the user expectations still remain the same. People still demand a high standard, whether they’re using an Android or an iPhone, so the UX and UI must accommodate for this in every facet of the app.
They Can Be Time-Consuming And Costly
The nature of native apps means that they must be designed in different ways for different platforms, which does add to the workload and, therefore, the cost, but this must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
They Can Require Different Design Assets For Different Platforms
Sometimes, it’s necessary to create a slightly different set of assets for each platform, which can make managing and maintaining a time-consuming task. Where applicable, I endeavor to make my designs flexible enough to be utilized across different platforms.
They Can Prove A Pain When It Comes To Hiring Experienced Designers
The reality is that there aren’t many designers out there who have experience of working regularly with both platforms, so finding the right person for the job can be tough.
Vivek Chaturvedi is the co-founder and CTO at Vidhema Technologies. He is responsible for the overall technical operations of the company and has played a major role in bringing Vidhema up from its humble beginnings and, with his immense energy and drive, transforming it into a globally trusted name in IT solutions.