The First Screen, Part Two: Mobile Web vs. Apps

Technology // May 20, 2013

In my previous post I talked about the shift to mobile communication and the need for churches to pay attention—and act—on that shift. I suspect many of you reacted with a phrase heard in middle school hallways and mall food courts: WhatEVER, dude. 

But REALLY. Your church can do this mobile thing…and that “can” actually borders on “must.”

But…what about the cost?

Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between a mobile app and a mobile-friendly website. Apps can be cost-prohibitive, and even if you have the financial resources to develop one, they can be time-intensive as well. Apps themselves require time and attention; in other words, updating a mobile app creates yet another to-do item on your list. Who wants that? In comparison, mobile versions of websites automatically update when you update the regular web version.

Aren’t apps “cooler”?

Some people think apps are “cooler” and therefore “more relevant” than mobile-friendly sites. Granted, there are certain functions apps allow that mobile websites may not, such as gaming (think Angry Birds) or personalized usage (like EverNote). For the vast majority of ministries, though, a mobile website is perfectly adequate. For more on the app vs. mobile website decision, check out this article. (Please note, this is not necessarily an endorsement of services.)  Finally, according to a recent CNN article, mobile apps are on the decline anyway as mobile-friendly sites continue to gain popularity. (Interestingly, the CNN article references Apple’s own app “The Daily”—it has since been discontinued. Point made!)

What about access?

Apps are great because they come with a handy-dandy icon for one-click (or one-press) access to content. But did you know you can just as easily create an icon on your mobile device that links to a webpage? (In Safari on the iPhone, for example, select the “share” button at the bottom and then “add to home screen.”) Also, it’s important to note that mobile websites are indexed on search engines, but apps aren’t.

But…can’t people already see our website on their mobile device—even if’s not specifically a “mobile-friendly website”?

Yes, of course. And chances are it looks terrible and is difficult to navigate. Think about mobile apps and mobile-friendly websites you’ve seen; they have big buttons (thumb-friendly) and streamlined menus. According to a Compuware survey, 46% of mobile web users are unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing from their phone and 57% are unlikely to recommend the site. When it comes to mobile technology, function is critical.

Wait a second. I just thought of something. We just implemented online giving on our website. So, if we have a mobile-friendly website, does that mean people could participate in the offering…from their phone?!

Yes. Going mobile is another way you can eliminate obstacles to generosity.

Okay, okay, okay. I get it. But HOW do we go mobile?

If you have a website, it can be optimized for the mobile web. In fact, Google has a great resource to help you. If you don’t have a website yet or if you’re in the process of redesigning your current site, there are many companies anxious to help you develop a website with built-in mobile capabilities (e.g. Clover and Bridge Element).

leveraging technology to accelerate givingLooking for more in-depth information about giving technology? Download your FREE copy of my e-book “Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Giving.”

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

3 Simple Tips to Improve This Weekend’s Offering

(and one big mistake you might be making)

Check your inbox!