Categories: Industry Insights

What’s the Difference Between a Mobile Application and a Mobile Website?

Published On: Nov 5, 2020By

And, which one do you need for your YMCA or JCC?

It’s pretty safe to say that we live in an increasingly mobile world. So mobile, in fact, that now we are being barraged with mobile options. The most popular of these are mobile-optimized websites and mobile applications, or apps.


mobile-optimized website is a website that is made more friendly for mobile browsers. It is accessed through an Internet browser, requires an Internet connection, and functions just like any website. For the mobile user, a mobile-optimized site presents a limited view of your full website that allows for faster and easier viewing of a website on a Internet-enabled mobile phone.

It’s also worth noting that there is more than one way to achieve a mobile-optimized site. Some businesses opt for a separate mobile microsite that can be accessed automatically from a mobile device (the browser recognizes a mobile device and redirects to the simpler mobile microsite) and some businesses prefer to use design to improve the mobile experience. Often, businesses will use “responsive” design to achieve this. Responsive design provides a website that automatically resizes and shuffles content based on how large the screen size is. You can see responsive design in action yourself by accessing a site like and dragging the window on your laptop or desktop to reduce the width, you’ll see how the images resize and ultimately stack one on top of the other. The response for this site would be the same on a mobile device. The site automatically reshapes itself to provide the best view for whatever screen size is available.

A pure mobile application (app) can only be accessed after being installed and is generally designed to provide more interactive features and functions for the mobile user. Apps can be available offline (since the application itself is downloaded to the hard drive on the mobile device). Finally, clever mobile applications often make use of features already available on your phone like location services and/or the phone’s camera. Mobile applications deliver the best mobile user experience since they were designed specifically for mobile devices.


Daxko team member notes, “With new technologies in the Web sector coming that can enhance the user experience and allow for native experiences, the Web is catching up. However, most of these technologies aren’t fully supported by widely used versions of browsers, so having both a mobile application and a mobile-optimized site makes a lot of sense for the current state of things.”

In an ideal world, most businesses would strive to have both a mobile-optimized site and a mobile application and the two would serve different functions. For a YMCA or JCC, a mobile-optimized site would provide the full-site functionality to serve the general public that will browse your site looking for information on membership, donations, careers, the mission, camps, and more in a simpler format to be accessed on a mobile device. That YMCA or JCC could also have a mobile application that could be used to strengthen ties with current members, allowing them to look at class schedules on the go, get auto alerts when schedule changes occur or facility hours are reduced, make a donation on the fly, and just generally keep up with their YMCA or JCC members.

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