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A Guide to Choosing Native or Web for Mobile apps

As a consultant for one of Australia’s leading software development houses, I often come across the inevitable question from a client, when talking about mobile development “should I have a native app for each platform I want to target, or should I just have one mobile web application.” Often the answer to that question is not that clear cut. In essence it depends on two factors, namely requirements and current technology.

You obviously always have to listen to the client’s needs and requirements, get to the core of the problem they are wanting to solve and provide a solution accordingly. With that in mind it becomes an exercise in fitting in to one or the other path to successful mobile app development. It is important to get this decision on native or web app right from the start, as it can be an expensive exercise to switch mid project. However, if you are prepared you can guide the client and inform them on the best choices they can make.

On the other hand you have to stick to what the technology can provide you once you start developing the product. You can of course push the boundaries, which we like to do at Kiandra, but there will be some limitations in whichever technology you choose.

Because this question comes up regularly, I developed a matrix to help myself, and the clients, out in determining whether to go native or web. It goes a little somethin’ like this:

nativevswebmatrix

It is meant to be a quick guide to identifying the pros and cons of each approach and help you chose the appropriate one in a particular situation. You have to take into account factors such as requirements, time and flexibility, but in general it is a great starting point.

For both approaches there are people who are for and against, and it is important you choose the solution that will get the job done in the best possible way. Don’t just chose an approach because it is the most popular at that moment.

If you have any other points that I have missed or would fit into the matrix let me know in the comments below.