Website or Mobile App: Which Should You Launch First?

What should you launch first: a website or a mobile app? Almost every startup nowadays struggles to make this decision, and it may either bring success or ruin your idea.

Website vs mobile app

There’s nobody who can give you a 100% right answer. Usually, businesses start with a website. However, nowadays many startups lean toward a mobile application because it’s considered cooler.

In reality, everything depends on a particular project. You’ll have to think of many details before making your final decision. The perks and drawbacks of an app and a website are very different as well as the development process.

Here we’ll try to sort this all out so you can get a clearer picture of what you should do. We’ll evaluate both strengths and weaknesses of websites and apps according to the following criteria:


  1. Budget
  2. Frequency of use
  3. Target audience
  4. Specific features
  5. Changes & updates
  6. Competition
  7. Marketing



This is the first thing you should think of, especially if you think about building a mobile app first.

It is pretty expensive to build a native app. And remember that modern market requires versions for both Android and iOS.

If you don’t have  $10,000 to $100,000 to spend, your choice is simple – go for a website. Moreover, for $10,000 you’ll get an app with only basic functionality, so it’s better to have a bigger budget for app development.

Building a website first is common practice and in most cases, it works just fine. If you’re a startup, then you’re experimenting. And if your idea turns out not to be as successful as you imagined, you need to make sure you didn’t blow your entire budget on it.

This is why a website might be a good place to start.

However, there is another solution if you’re not sure you want to spend a ton of money but you still want to try mobile market: convert your website into a mobile app using Cordova.

Building an app with Cordova will save you money and give you an access to the mobile scene. However, you’ll still need to build a mobile website first.

Here’s a piece of advice: if you decide to build a website first, don’t forget about smartphone users. With a decent mobile website, you’ll be able to analyze how often your customers use it. After that, you’ll be able to decide whether to develop a mobile app or web app first.

Keep in mind that a web app means cross-platform technology, so the UX won’t be as perfect as it could be in a native application.

If you see that your customers come to you from their smartphones, it will be best to develop a native application.

Frequency of Use

How often will users access your service? If you think that users will probably want to do so several times a day, an app might be a great option for you.

Certain types of services or products work better when they are made as applications. They are planners, games and social networks, email and fitness apps. They are used several times a day and have to be accessible everywhere.

In case you would like to create such kind of product, your application will be successful only if it’s fast. Otherwise, it won’t last long on your users’ iPhones and Android devices. In terms of app vs website usage, apps are the absolute winners.

Target audience


Every product begins with imagining who a client is. You need to know what people want before you decide to go with mobile or web first. Gather some statistics to find out more about people you make your product for.


Specific features

Think about the features that are essential for your idea to work. Maybe your idea only makes sense as an application.

For example, we’re sure that Uber would never have been so successful if it hadn’t been an application from the very start. The main idea behind Uber is that you can use it any time wherever you are. Uber would be pointless on a desktop without any mobility and location detection.

To get the most out of a device, you need these hardware components:

  • GPS sensors
  • Accelerometers
  • Cameras
  • Microphones
  • Gyroscopes

Moreover, only a mobile app lets you send push notifications. If you’re sure that they are necessary for success, then your choice is easy – build a mobile app.

Another specific thing that’s available only in mobile applications is offline work.There are places with problems with the internet connection – for example, at the gym, on a train, in the forest, or abroad. If your users are likely to use your service there, then you’ll need to start with a mobile application. Websites can’t work without internet.

The access to a mobile device’s hardware is truly one of the biggest advantages of mobile apps over websites.

Changes and updates


Think about how often you’re going change and update your product. One of the reasons most startups choose to go web first is that it’s much easier to make changes to a website.

Websites are just more versatile. If you want to change your product so that it meets market demands, you’ll be able to do it instantly, and your users will see the changes the next time they visit a website.

Making the same changes to a mobile application is way harder, and here’s why: after you make a change, you need to upload the new version to the markets. This takes time because each new build has to be approved by each app store. From our experience, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours for Google Play to review an app update and up to a day and a half for the Apple App Store.

But it doesn’t end there. After the new version is ready, your users still need to update your application on their devices. Updates need to be frequent, but if they’re too frequent your users will get tired of installing them and will stop updating. Therefore, attempts to make your product better may fail.

If you’re not sure how users will react to your idea and you think that you’ll need to make changes often, it’s better to choose a website.


Compare yourself to your competitors. If they don’t have mobile apps yet, then this might be your chance to stand out from the crowd and get an advantage by offering a mobile solution.

Offering an app can open doors to a new audience of people who use smartphones frequently. According to StatCounter, the number of such people already equals the number of website users, and it only continues growing.

It’s hard to overestimate the significance of the mobile market nowadays, and having a mobile app can make you unique.

However, you shouldn’t build an app just because it’s fancy. Your app has to give customers additional ways to solve some problems. The mere fact that you have an app, won’t bring success to your business.


Marketing is important for any business. With millions of products out there, marketing is the only way to spread awareness and bring users to your website or app.

Websites are really easy to market. They have a single URL, and there are many techniques for optimizing your website for search engines with SEO and promoting it.

In addition, having a website makes your business look more legitimate. This doesn’t mean that you need to develop a website first, but it is necessary at some point.

Marketing nowadays is not only about reaching as many people as possible but also about telling a story. A website is a great way to tell yours.

With a website, a visitor who has never heard about your idea can get familiar with it, increasing your conversion rate.

Marketing mobile apps are different than marketing websites. It involves working on your ranking with the help of App Store Optimization (ASO).

Think about where your team’s expertise lies and decide which marketing strategy you’ll likely be more successful at.