Mobile Web vs. Mobile Apps | Mobile Learning | Wilson Learning Worldwide


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Mobile Web vs. Mobile Apps

(August 17, 2011)

Many of our clients who start utilising mobile learning are quickly confronted with the issue of whether to implement it as a mobile app or via mobile web. The decision can have broad implications for accessibility, cost, quality and maintenance of a mobile learning strategy.

Briefly, an app is a small programme or learning content that is loaded directly onto a mobile device. The mobile web enables learning content specifically formatted for mobile devices to be accessed using the web browser on the mobile device, just like any web page is accessed.

So, what are the pros and cons of the app and mobile web environments?

Mobile Apps
Apps allow you to create a highly intuitive, graphical user interface and present content in enjoyable and informative ways. Apps also give you access to certain features that reside on the mobile device (phone, contacts, GPS etc.) not available via the mobile web.

However, when developing an app, you will have to consider the various platforms currently on the market and create separate experiences for each platform (Apple, Android and Blackberry). Another consideration is content development and updates. Typically, modifying content within an app requires a rebuild of the source code and changes to the user interface. And this has to be done separately for each mobile platform. In addition, apps need to be updated each time a platform provider updates the platform’s operating system.

Thus, development time and costs are major barriers to entry for many organisations. Without fully understanding how your workforce will use your app, it may be hard to justify the necessary investment.

PROS: Rich content presented in a highly intuitive user interface
CONS: Multiple platform development; high development time and costs

- Content does not change frequently
- Organisations need to support only one mobile device platform
- Rich content is a must-have

Mobile Web
The mobile web allows you to make your content available to anyone, anywhere, from any mobile device. As long as your end user has a mobile browser, he, or she, will be able to access your content. Since the content resides on the web, updating is easier and only has to be done once, not separately for each platform.

Nonetheless, there are certain design and development barriers involved with developing a mobile website, and your content must be formatted to fit within the limitations of the design platform. In addition, use of mobile web content requires the user to be connected to the web. This can be a problem were connectivity is limited, or in large urban areas were there is a lot of mobile web traffic.

PROS: Low cost and device agnostic; more control over content and updating capabilities
CONS: User interface and content limitations; requires reliable connectivity

- Content changes frequently
- Organisations need to support multiple mobile device platforms
- Rich content is not required
- Continuous connectivity is not an issue

About the Author
Michael Leimbach

Michael Leimbach

Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., is a globally recognised expert in instructional design and sales development, sharing his message that it is not about what you learn but what you use. His approach has been adopted by numerous Global 1000 organisations in Australia, England, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and throughout the United States. Dr. Leimbach is Vice President of Global Research and Development for Wilson Learning Worldwide. With more than 25 years in the field, he provides leadership for researching and designing Wilson Learning’s diagnostic, learning, and performance improvement capabilities. He has managed major research studies in sales, leadership, and organisational effectiveness. Dr. Leimbach also developed Wilson Learning’s impact evaluation capability and return on investment models. He has served as a research consultant for a wide variety of global client organisations, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Advances in Developing Human Resources professional journal, and serves on the ISO Technical Committee on Quality Standards for Learning Service Providers. Dr. Leimbach has authored six books, published numerous professional articles, and is a frequent speaker at national and global conferences.

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