Web, Native or Hybrid: What Is Best for My Mobile App Project?

June 21st, 2017
Web, Native or Hybrid: What Is Best for My Mobile App Project?

The answer to that question is simply ‘it depends’. And it depends mostly on one thing; budget. What app will work best for your project and who will develop it are both budget considerations. That said, let’s make something clear from the outset. The cost of developing a native app is generally going to be prohibitive for individuals and therefore an option only for medium to large businesses.

So, let’s explore briefly the differences between each of these app creation processes:

Native apps are what anyone other than those with their heads buried in code would simply call an app. The social media, banking and weather apps you use on your smartphones are all native apps. Almost all of the apps you can download from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store are native apps. They are defined by the fact that they are coded from scratch specifically for the platform on which they appear and, they offer the best user experience. Further, they can access the functionality of the device (such as notifications and access to the camera) in ways that the other options cannot. Native apps are expensive. North of US$10,000 expensive.

Web apps are, to all intents and purposes, simply websites that have been optimized through responsive design to display like an app. They are not standalone and must be accessed via a web browser on your smartphone. They are significantly cheaper to produce but limit the content that can be accessed by the user and prohibit the use of a device’s features.

Hybrid apps are, logically, somewhere in between native and web apps. Salesforce Developers defines hybrid apps as, “a web app, primarily built using HTML5 and JavaScript, which is then wrapped inside a thin native container that provides access to native platform features.”

On the face of it, hybrid apps would seem like a no-brainer. They’re cheaper than native apps but deliver all the same functionality. However, for all their positives (such as distribution through app stores), hybrids are still essentially web apps pretending to be native apps. As such, they still surrender significant leads to native apps in the areas of performance, look and feel.

“Users’ fickle engagement make user experience design arguably the single most important factor in determining whether your idea will become a successful app,” – Nic Wright

So, a successful app requires a good UX design team (!) to help you work through those all-important questions, such as: What is your app trying to accomplish? And What features do you require?

And though not everyone has the time, resources or understanding to design and build a successful app that is functional and attractive, clearly the major consideration is the budget. If you’re on a shoestring, a web app is most likely your best bet. If you can afford a little outlay but not a second mortgage, then a hybrid app gets you closer to competing with native apps. But if you’re happy to invest a larger amount to get a superior product, then a native app is the only option.

Speak to the Disrupt Studio Team. We’re ready to help you shape your Mobile App concept, identify what features are required and the best technology for your project.