Before the outpouring of mobile phones into the market, there was the time when the website was considered the next level of idea, which helps businesses and individual to gain online presence and help their services to reach to their customers besides conventional means of paper marketing. This was a good strategy two decades ago, now if you will go around telling people that you don’t own your personal website, there is a high that you may surprise people with it. The same goes for the mobile apps, as they are around for quite some time, but comparative to the website, it’s not as common as a website. For those startups and businesses who think that website would be sufficient in order to boost their services, these statistics may help you understand some brass tacks for the better.

According to the Smart Insight, over 89% of the time spent by a user is using a mobile phone; whereas, only 11% is spent on a website. Likewise, Strategy Trends has found out in a report that 83% of marketers and B2B entrepreneurs claim that mobile apps are an important source of online marketing which involves publishing new contents. In terms of e-commerce done through online means, PR Newswire states that mobile apps have seen a 120% increase in revenue for retail business as compared to websites. These statistics are few from a vast number of reports that made us realize without a shredder of doubt that mobile apps are indeed more result bearing as compared to a conventional website.

By seeing such trends, a much large organization who have primarily commenced their operation using only a website, such as Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter, DropBox etc, were quickly adopting their business into a mobile app, thus gaining a boost in revenues and admirable among the masses. If anyone owns a website and want to follow the path of the future by providing their customers with a handy mobile app, keep on reading this article in which we will suggest all the best practices and tips on designing your app based on your website.

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Mobile apps or responsive web: What’s the difference?

Many of people who own a website may hear about responsive web design and how does it work. If you have, you may know that the same design, in which your website is built upon that works in your desktop screens, may also work on the mobile screen, tablet or other peripherals. This responsiveness is quite a deal breaker for many of us as most of the responsive based website owners started to imagine that a mobile app is not needed once we have a responsive design working in its fullest.

To all of the people who think responsive web design fills the gap for a mobile app are in the fault. The website builds if in responsive design is nothing more than a website. It’s not correct to compare it with a mobile app which is built over the architecture of a mobile device upon which the elements and programming language used. The responsive design only fills out the space of a device in a neat and clean manner, but it still operates as a website, with all features directed towards a website and nothing more.

On the contrary, mobile apps are aimed to provide a better experience because it has been developed through the mobile phone’s intended OS specifications, and must be downloaded by their preferred App stores, (Google Play for Android and App store for iOS). Like websites, mobile apps have the tendency to provide command over hardware modules such as camera, gyroscope, and accelerometer, and through which you can design and customize your very own mobile app to provide a better user experience, have the ability work even without internet connection, and to provide a better user engagement using push notification. Mobile apps have a fine design allocation which has features extracted from mobile various secondary apps, such as Photo Library, Camera, Internet browser, or Geolocation.

To understand the importance of a mobile app, Let’s imagine a test case where a simple mobile user wants to read the latest news. He has two options, one using a website, other through a mobile app. The answer is pretty straightforward. If the user owns a mobile app, and looking for a fast way to get around his daily routine based tasks, the mobile apps does the job, because its much easier to navigate, it is designed for the intended tasks and more importantly, it understands the user preference, history, and search result, in return provide a much-targeted output without user intervention. All of this process is done via mobile app well formulated UX, which the real essence of any mobile application. For all those, who are wondering to develop an existing responsive website into a mobile app, its important to understand the business perspective.

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Mobile app planning

It is often observed that businesses and startup who decides to invest in a mobile app for later, they manage to create a simple looking product with a small downloadable unit, as compared to a hefty functionality available in their already active website. This method is not advised; instead think your mobile app as a separate entity with its own set of rules, aspirations and a potential product. This leaves you with 3 options to choose from one deciding your very own mobile application to formulate.

– Move each feature and functions of your website into your app, leaving nothing behind (in simple words, developing a clone application based on your website)

Develop an app using core features from your website and adding additional functionality with respect to time.

– Make a minimalist mobile app with very few handy features.

All of the above options are selected by many entrepreneurs and companies out of which, the options where the mobile app contains the core functionalities at the beginning, but later additional features are incorporated once the stakeholders decide its need. Anyhow, the option entirely depends upon the business concept and the formation about the need of an hour, but however, you create your app, its quite difficult to entirely mirror up to your app with your website, due to physical as well as technical constants. Subsequently, updating your app with new features later could also overlap with uncorrelated design layout at the final stage, which in results further moves your app away in conjunction with your website.

Sometimes, it’s not recommended to completely copied up to your mobile app based on your website because users are not exactly looking to have each and every feature necessary in your website. You can create a mobile app and its possible that your developer has gone deep down into the spiral of a complicated design structure of the app that the upon using it in production, the user gets lost from its track will navigating your mobile app, which the worst case it could happen with any business. So, in order to make sure the user never gets lost from its tracks, the app must formulate to the website’s features and functionality based on the UX criteria rather than the UI and design perspective, this is because of the limitation with mobile apps in general where, browser has lot more flexibility when navigation is concerned.

Referring to the options mentioned above, out of three, the most rejected one may be the third which states that to create an app based on the minimalist features acquired from the website into the app; but believe it or not, this option is also selected by many giants and web mammoth. A real-life example to help you understand this concept is the development of Facebook Messenger. If you see it carefully, the Messenger is nothing more than a chatting app, as compared to the hefty Facebook website where everything is in place, but as they say, the beautiful thing is the one that is simplest in nature. The creation of Messenger proves to be a success because it contains the only functionality that is needed for users to communicate with each other without any distraction or complication. With only a few clicks and without losing time and patience, the Facebook Messenger is able to contribute what the mobile app is looking to provide.

A good example to understand is by imagining that you are running a restaurant business. Your website is set up which provides information such as menu, website services, table booking, features, event organization, and contact information. Every feature is working without a hiccup except food delivery system. For this feature to be included, you can develop a minimalist mobile app in order to include this untapped business feature and gain a monumental advantage for your overall restaurant service.

Hence its necessary to understand the need for developing an app, which problem you are facing and a possible solution at your disposal before choosing any one of them.

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Design recommendation

Mobile apps vs. website have different design practices and rules which have to be separated in order to understand each one of them without any trouble. So if a business is looking to develop a mobile app for their services, it’s important to learn some handy advice in designing your mobile application.

Never Copy Paste design

This is the biggest challenge faced by many businesses who are looking to copy paste an existing website into a mobile application. The design flow for the mobile app and website are different with comprises of elements, suggestive placements, objects, and navigation flow. The most important aspect of any mobile app conversion is to understand the UX components and adhere it corresponding to the website design with respect to available elements for mobile development. So what are those UX principles, lets read them out below.

Work on UX more than anything else

If we talk about the structure of mobile phone, the screen size and limited call to action capability will put you into a fix, if you are about to convert your app like a mirror image of your website. Always remember that “less is better” when developing a mobile app. The details that you see in your web page is by no means attainable for putting in the same spot for a mobile app so you need to decide that which feature should be left out, what to select and which on to put to the background of your mobile application.

To make it a crystal clear concept, always remember to create a single screen for the single feature (or maybe multiple, depends on the level of input from a user), and never overwhelm a user with cascading screen and user inputs which acts like a puzzle and create havoc for your customers. It is strongly recommended that you should write down all the features from your website, point out the ones that are absolutely necessary, create their screen and mockups then test out your app and you’re all set for the next step.

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Navigation must be simplified

This is the most important area which needs to be properly investigated. Navigation, as compared to a website is absolutely different for mobile apps. The browser has the accessibility of a mouse, with hover and active events working for your user to get a second layer of fine navigation across pages. If you are considering to convert it to a mobile app, you don’t have the dynamics and simplicity of a web browser, but more of a challenge to now disperse your user into a maze-like dungeon in the name of mobile app conversion. So for navigation, there are actually 3 types of design possibilities that you can choose from and provide a better UX and UI combinational layout.

Hamburger Menu

Although this menu has been considered an old-school design method but still being actively used by many app developers. Hamburger menu is a simple icon usually located at the top right corner of the application. The best quality of these menus is that it does take much space initially, only when a user taps or slides the screen, the menu pops out and takes up a portion of the screen filled with the menu items. With everything in the world, there exist the advantages and disadvantages of the hamburger menu, so let’s see what are they.

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Advantages

– It provides you with a lot of free real estate in your application

– Has the ability to store levels and levels of the menu inside its structure

– It’s very popular so people will likely have no trouble using it for the first time

Disadvantages

– The menu is hidden, so the user doesn’t know what menus are where initially

– The user has to click an additional tap in order to navigate to any desired location

– The menu icon is located at the out of the thumb-friendly zone, which adds up little frustration to the user’s side.

Tab bar

Tab bar is another well-known navigation item that you have surely seen before. This navigation item is usually located at the bottom or top of the screen, which is visible at every screen no matter where you navigate from. The menu items located in the top bar are the ones that are extremely essential for users so that they can easily tap and go to their respective screen. Not to mention it is located in the thumb-friendly zone. Tab bar is the most prominent option if your navigation menu is not divided into sub level. Indeed this menu element has its own set of advantages and disadvantages which we are going to see below.

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Advantages 

– It is located in the thumb-friendly zone so people use it without any trouble and gets the most points with respect to UX.

– Tab bar menu items are seen every time, so people will surely tap on it, rather than the menu located under the hidden element.

– Only a single tap is required for the user to navigate between different screens.

Disadvantages

– Tab bar items are limited due to space constraints (5 or fewer menu items)

– You have to explicitly provide an indication to let the user know which icon is active, otherwise, the user will be in a great fix while navigation

– Due to no labeling, the user has to guess the menu screen to their corresponding icons.

Gesture-oriented navigation

The navigation which understands user gestures are firstly introduced in late 2007 but now has become a leading UX design practice to increase the sleek feature for a mobile application and navigation force. Using various screen gestures like slide, swap, long press, tap etc, you can open up your preferred navigation.

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Conclusion

For websites, decorated with all functionalities necessary for a particular business, converting a mobile app which requires additional cost and time is not an easy decision. It may be possible that responsive web would work for your needs, but as the mobile applications are gaining momentum and great recognition among the audience pool, trying it out of building one for your business is certainly a good decision you’ll make for the future.

SleekDigital is a Mobile App Development Agency in Singapore that helps businesses transform digitally. We also offer digital transformation consultation and general digital consultation for companies who are looking for suggestions of different systems to be integrated. This is more of companies who lack a digital consultant to propose technologies. Arrange a digital consultation with us today!