Web Based AppsAre you considering a mobile app solution as part of your sales enablement strategy? Do you see a golden opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition, and present your goods or services in a bold, exciting way?

Mobile apps have become de rigueur, whether your reps are using them in sales calls or your customers are downloading your app to their own device. But no sooner do you make the decision to go mobile than you are faced with a complicated choice.

Android, Windows, iOS, HTML5—which platform should you use to develop your app? What if you have employees bringing their own device (BYOD), or customers with different devices and a variety of operating systems? Is it necessary to rebuild the app in every possible platform? That’s like buying the same development over and over and over again, which is both tedious and costly.

Here are two options for mobile app development that will reach a broad spectrum of users without having to customize the app for every possible device. Both web-based applications and hybrid mobile applications will give you flexibility and robust content without the cost of custom development for every operating system.

Web-based applications

A web-based app functions like a mobile app, but streams content like a website, so the content can be both dynamic and adaptable to a mobile device. Apps for newspapers are a good example: it is like a website shortcut that sits on your phone. You have an icon to click that streams content from a website. The app is a skeletal framework built in HTML5, so it is not operating-system specific.

An obvious disadvantage to a web app is the need for an internet connection. No connection, no content steaming from the website. Animations and transitions can be sluggish on older devices, and in some cases it can be difficult to translate desktop web applications without completely changing information flow (consider the differences between a desktop monitor and a smaller device with a touchscreen).

But there are a number of advantages to a web-based app, especially from a development cost perspective. The web-based app can be developed for multiple platforms and devices using a single code base. Since the content resides on a server, content is dynamic and can change regularly (remember the news app?). And of course, the same web-based content is available to both mobile and non-mobile users.

Hybird Mobile Applications

Web-based hybrid apps can help you keep costs down, reach all devices regardless of the operating system, and access more content than you would store in a stand-alone app. Hybrid apps bridge the divide between apps that simply stream web-based content and custom apps that are specific to one operating system (native) and house all content within the app.

Like a web-based app, hybrids can stream large amount of web-based content. But they also have custom features that allow for complex features, interactions, and functions that use native code to maximize the specific device’s capabilities. What does this mean to development cost? Part of the app will be built in HTML5, to access the web content and simple features across all devices. When the function requires native code, such as Objective C for iOS or Java for Android, just that specific section can be developed for multiple platforms—for example, if the app requires device-specific tools, such as GPS or camera functions. So the majority of the app is friendly to all operating systems, with small sections developed for native functions.

What are the drawbacks to a hybrid app? In trying to be all things to all devices, you may see a loss of speed in accessing web content, especially when viewing animations or transitions. Because hybrids require some native code, there will be development costs for building the same features multiple times. But overall, this can be a great solution that gives you the benefits of custom development at a discount price. And the app is less dependent than a web-based mobile app on an internet connection, since more content is stored within the app itself.

By accessing content you have already created for your website, your web-based or hybrid app will provide a robust user experience without the cost of complete custom development across multiple platforms.