How to choose between a web, native and hybrid application?
As regards developing a new application, there are three key types of solutions to choose from: native, web and hybrid. Selecting the most suitable option is a crucial part of the software development process. See how to choose wisely to reach long-term business goals and create a great user experience.
Considering the front-end, we need to remember that each IT system is based on a particular way of interacting with the user. Native, web and hybrid solutions have their own benefits and challenges, but finally, reaching the best ROI is pivotal.
Choosing an option that fits the needs, it is best to answer these questions:
- What goals (UX and business) do we want to reach by developing software?
- Who will be using the app and what functionalities will be crucial?
- What benefits will the application bring to its users?
- What possibilities does the budget give us?
Discover all benefits and challenges
Let’s look at each of the 3 key solutions in closer detail.
- Universal, highly standardised type of application
- Accessible via web browser, so runs on all devices (PC, smartphone, TV etc.)
- Provides additional functionality and interactivity to an existing website
- Allows for quicker development with lower costs
- Doesn’t require updates in an app store
- Lack of access in app stores
- Slower operating speed, requires more data transfer
- Harder to connect external devices (e.g. a fingerprint reader)
- It’s more difficult to ensure consistency for all devices and browsers
- Requires internet connection
- Web software performance depends on the strength of the internet connection
- Progressive Web Apps technology – a specific solution being a website that gives users the look and feel of an application and uses a standards-compliant browser (desktop and mobile devices)
Native apps are developed for specific devices in a platform-specific programming language. They are coded in Swift or Objective-C (iOS), Java or Kotlin (Android).
- Developed for use on specific platforms
- Written in technologies provided by the producer than is less defect prone
- Allows to take full advantage of the platform specificity
- Is most consistent with the UX standards of a given platform
- Can easily run offline and synchronize in background
- A platform-only solution. In the omnichannel era, users want easy access to all functions on several platforms. Writing additional versions of the application is expensive
Native software can have a high development cost. It enables high performance, as it can easily access device functionality and create a faster response rate, despite heavy graphics and details integrated.
Hybrid or Cross-Platform Application
Hybrid mobile apps create a broad spectrum of solutions between web and native apps. They are coded in various technologies, depending on the solution.
- Installed similarly to native software but works differently due to singular codebase management
- Built on a single base, save time and resources
- Can easily run offline and synchronize in background
- Distributed through all app stores
- Technology may be easier to learn for developers specialised in web or backend languages
- Performance can be worse than for native apps
- When avoiding compromises in look and feel, may require a lot of platform specific modification and take costs compared to two or three native applications
- Difficult to achieve some native-like experience as the app is developed for two platforms and needs to adjust to both of them simultaneously
If the organisation aims to target many users through multiple platforms, hybrid software is the most effective solution. It is an ideal option for progressive startups as it gives them more flexibility and control over the platform. However, hybrid software is low performing and relies on the quality of the processes that run the code to increase performance.
Open or closed app?
If we want to create an application accessible to mass users, UX is vital. The popular solution here is to create a dedicated web application for desktop and a separate native mobile platform for iOS and Android. In the case of an open app, a native application would be the best choice. If the costs are too high, a cross-platform solution is the one to consider as it also should give satisfying results.
In the area of closed apps (enterprise applications), functionality and business values are far more important than UX standards, then hybrid solutions may prove the best option here. Although some of the enterprise applications need to deal with very complex forms and display methods that simply cannot be fit to mobile screen. We can write one main web app and mobile app containing only the most necessary data and functionalities. As an example in the insurance industry, web application can provide full support for office workers to process claims on desktops. At the same time different mobile apps are used by insurance agents only for tasks completed outside the office.
Make a wise decision & thrive
To make the right choice, it’s vital to understand the options. The more native and adapted to the platform the application is, the better its quality, UX, performance and rating are. Importantly, the cost is also higher. The more general the solution is, the lower the costs are, and the greater the compromises and possible limitations are. The whole spectrum of hybrid solutions offers a wide range of opportunities and helps reach a compromise.
Before you decide on any of the above options define your requirements, analyse possibilities and make sure the one you get is the one you need.
Contact our software experts and let’s talk about creating the best-fitted app for your business.