On today’s Tech Help for Churches: An app or a responsive website?
Should your church create a responsive website or a smartphone app? It’s kind of a trick question because I think you should do both, but if you don’t have the resources to do both, which should you do first? There are some pros and cons to weigh as you decide and we’ll talk about those today.
Apps have a lot going for them:
- Visibility: The number of apps in total or for a particular platform in general is much less than the total number of websites. Even if you do good SEO, it’s possible to end up far enough down the page of search results that you’re basically invisible to most people online. It’s easier to be seen in the various app stores.
- Perception: Like it or not, people will view a church with an app as more cutting edge, with it, hip, etc., than one that doesn’t have an app. If you’re looking to attract younger people, it might be worth the trouble to get an app for just that reason.
- Ability: Depending on the platform, apps can often access hardware on the phone that a website can’t. Maybe it’s location data or information from the accelerometer, but there are certain things that are just easier to do in an app.
There are problems with apps, though that responsive websites don’t have:
- Updates: If you want to change something on the web, you change it. If you want to do that on your app, you might need to get it approved by the app store again.
- Differences in platforms: Windows has live tiles. If that’s important to you, you have a problem because you can’t do it on iOS or Android. That’s just one example of ability, but there are also differences in design to consider. Android just looks different than iOS and Windows.
- App store approvals and developer fees: Just because you have someone in your church who CAN code an app doesn’t mean you can get it onto the app store. Apple is particularly hard on this, but Microsoft can be as well.
So which should you do? If you have a mobile or responsive site, build an app. If you don’t, concentrate on a website first. Having a good website is like having a Yellow Page ad in the 1980s; it’s a non-negotiable.
It’s possible, if you already have a good website to wrap it in an app which is just a web browser in an app so you don’t have to type in the url. That might be a cheaper middle ground to start off.
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