Mobile Draft Day

mobile web browsingIt’s Mobile Draft Day and your pick. The two big contenders: Mobile Apps and Mobile Websites. Which do you pick? Your budget can only handle one. Each product has about the same success rate. One seems old school. One is the culture’s iconic pick. The clock is counting down and you pick… OK, I’m not picking for you and I’ve already picked for my team. But here are some things I’ve learned about my pick and some things I’ve learned about the pick I didn’t select. Hopefully, they’ll help you decide which is best for you.

For the second pick, I select Mobile App. (My first pick was a redesigned website from the ground-up. Your first pick should always be a functioning, attractive website, as well.) Sorry, Mobile Website, you’ll have to wait until later.

With the popularity of mobile apps growing and Android being the number one used platform, I was finally able to reach the masses with a trending tool. Yes, iOS is great and pretty, but I work for a church and work to reach the masses, not just the pop culture. I knew the majority of my church was using Android, not iOS. Now, I had a solution that worked with both platforms and the back end was one system. (Keep that in mind when you’re searching for mobile app solutions.)

In addition, the new website was mobile friendly even though it wasn’t a true mobile website. For example, I made sure Flash wasn’t used and menus weren’t drop down. I tried to make sure the interactive features were easy to use without sacrificing the full desktop experience. I also made the choice to program for newer technology knowing phones without a full browser were becoming obsolete quickly. That meant full websites were becoming an accepted practice for mobile devices.

Furthermore, I chose the mobile app to be a separate tool in my web arsenal. I had and still have no intention on using the app to replace a website. I designed the app to be used in church services and on the go. Instead of filling out paper sermon notes, people would fill them out on their device (phone and tablet). Instead of reading the paper weekly bulletin, people would access it quickly from the app. Instead of subscribing to our podcast, they can easily access the audio, video and sermon notes from the app.

Now for the pick I passed up. As more people use their phone for web browsing, they want to easily access and read information. I even find myself surfing on my phone at home 6 feet away from a 19″ monitor. Our lives are becoming more mobile. Notebooks are becoming the primary inventory of brick and mortars (Browse through the computer section of Best Buy) and tablets are picking up speed. We want the answers now, period. Mobile website offer the solution. They display information simply and when designed correctly, make navigation friendly.

Both, mobile apps and mobile websites are needed. Which one does your organization need first? If you’ve already made your pick, which one was it? Why did you select it over the other?

Ryan leads marketing communications for First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, FL. Find him at or

4 Responses to “Mobile Draft Day”

  1. PaulSteinbrueck Reply Sep 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for your post today, Ryan. I'm not completely sold on the need for a separate mobile site. It depends on the organization, but I think most organizations would be fine if they work to make sure their main website is mobile friendly like you did. So, I would lean towards developing a mobile app over a mobile website too.

  2. Here are my considerations for mobile app vs mobile site.

    Consider whether the App/Site requires features of the phone/device such as accelerometer, gps, enhanced graphics, etc or is it informational only? If informational only, most likely a web app would be best. Why? Because you can reach more platforms than an app. Unless you have a team large enough to create apps for the three major platforms (ios, android, rim) you are excluding all other users and only catering to the platform of your choice. (Roughly 30% give or take a few percents depending on the study you look at. I am sure this is somewhat relative to a user base in a church as well, but I haven't seen studies on it.)

    The only other reason to create a mobile app would be if business rules insist the app still works in areas where there is no communication service at all. This includes hospitals, airplanes or secure areas.

    The points of making the main website clean enough to to work on a mobile browser as well as a traditional browser are good ones, but this inherently excludes any technology that does not work on mobile devices limiting functionality to what works on both. Why limit your possibilities or user base?

  3. Great thoughts Robert. You're right, apps do limit the audience and that's definitely something a church should consider.

  4. I am a huge Cowboys fan. The last time I played fantasy football I made the mistake of picking all "my" players. Um, that didn't work out so well. I think I'll be smarter about my draft this time.

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