How Mobile Apps Are Different From Websites

More and more municipalities and local governments are investing in mobile apps. If your municipality doesn’t yet have a mobile app, you might be wondering if you should consider having one developed.

Or maybe you know your municipality is ready, but your team has questions and you need help convincing them it’s the right thing to do. Perhaps you brought up this idea and were met with some resistance from your team or committee.

“If residents can access our website on their mobile phones, why do we need a mobile app?” they’ve asked.

This is a great question. To understand how websites and mobile apps are different, it’s helpful to first understand what each really is.

What is a website?

While most of us use websites for hours every day, we don’t often stop to think about what a website really is. A website is a collection of web pages that are hosted on a web server and are accessed over the internet through a web browser.

Websites are typically created for a specific purpose, such as providing information, selling products or services, or offering a platform for communication and collaboration.

What is a mobile app?

A mobile app, short for mobile application, is a software application designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches. Mobile apps are usually downloaded and installed from application stores such as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Mobile apps can perform a variety of functions, including entertainment, productivity, communication, education, and more. Some examples of mobile apps include social media apps, games, weather apps, banking apps, and fitness apps.

If residents can access our website on their mobile phones, why do we need a mobile app?

When we meet with a new municipality to discuss the development of a mobile app, this is the number one question we hear.

Even though websites can be accessed through mobile phones, there are several ways that a mobile app differs from your website that can make investing in one a good decision:

  • Convenience: Mobile apps are designed specifically for mobile devices and provide a more streamlined and convenient user experience. Mobile apps can be accessed with just one tap, while websites require users to open a browser and navigate to the website.
  • User interface: Mobile apps generally have a more intuitive and user-friendly interface designed specifically for smaller screens, touch input, and mobile use cases. Websites, on the other hand, have to cater to a broader range of devices and screen sizes, which can make their interface more challenging to navigate on smaller screens.
  • Offline access: Mobile apps can offer offline access to some features and content, while websites require an internet connection to function.
  • Personalization: Mobile apps can offer personalized content and recommendations based on a user’s preferences, behaviour, and location.
  • Functionality: Mobile apps can access the hardware and software features of a mobile device such as the camera, GPS, and push notifications, while websites have limited access to such features. This allows mobile apps to provide more immersive experiences and functionality that are not possible on a website.
  • Push notifications: Mobile apps can send push notifications to users, providing real-time updates and reminders that may be more effective than email or other forms of communication.
  • Engagement and connection: Having a mobile app provides municipalities with an additional touchpoint to engage with their residents. Additionally, the potential for more real-time communication can also foster a deeper connection and sense of loyalty for the resident.

An additional channel of your website

Think of a mobile app as an extension of your website that helps make the information more accessible and relevant. Plus, Info Grove’s Municipalities platform can work with your website so there’s no need to manage the content on both.

Meet your residents where they are

There are over 6.3 billion smartphone users across the world. Mobile users spend a whopping 88% of their mobile time using apps. Having a mobile app allows you to meet your residents where they spend their time.

It offers a more convenient, personalized, and integrated experience for residents to access your content on the go. You can communicate more directly with your residents, sharing information that’s most important to them at the moment it’s most relevant.

Endless potential for resident engagement

There are so many potential ways for a municipality to leverage a mobile app. Some of the most common ones include offering residents a way to report a problem, sharing safety and emergency notifications in real-time and providing up-to-date recycling and garbage collection and snow removal information. Some municipalities also use their mobile apps to collect payments for permits, tickets and memberships. Others use it to keep residents in the know about events or to conduct surveys or polls to gather feedback.

Outside of the usual use cases, some municipalities use their mobile app to go beyond information sharing. Some of our favourite examples include municipalities that use a mobile app to:

  • Encourage their residents to get out and explore using a GPS-enabled pathway map of its river valley and trail system. Citizens can also search for recreational opportunities (picnic areas, playgrounds, etc.) in one of the region’s many beautiful parks.
  • Provide all relevant election information in one centralized mobile platform for citizens to stay politically engaged.
  • Improve government accountability and transparency. Residents and employees who suspect fraud, theft or waste of city dollars can report it through the mobile app.
  • Leverage your municipality to also engage tourists and even create a self guided walking tour or experience.
  • Engage the residents of a tiny town of only 700 people!

A mobile app can be a valuable addition to a municipality’s digital presence in so many ways. If you’re wondering how your municipality could leverage a mobile app, book a call to learn more about Info Grove’s Municipalities platform.

Karim Mansour is an Inside Sales Representative at 14 Oranges, the creators of the Info Grove platform.

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