If you decided to create a mobile app, what’s the best way to minimize cost and maximize the benefit? I’m Lida Tang. I’m the creator of ForkOut and other award-winning mobile apps and I want to talk about two different ways you can think about creating your mobile apps: hybrid and native.

Benefits and Downsides of Mobile Apps

Some of the benefits of a mobile app versus a web app are no notifications, monetization, and the user experience. The downside is that to make a really great, engaging mobile app takes a lot of time, money, and effort that you may not have as a small business. And to make matters worse, there are two major competing platforms: iOS and Android. That would essentially double your development costs because now you need to make two apps that really function great on their respective platforms.

Native Apps

A native app is an app that’s built specifically for a particular platform and it has really tight integrations to that ecosystem and that platform in particular. So one of the benefits is that you can create a better presence for your brand throughout the entire experience on that platform. One of the examples is Yelp. You can now send a Yelp listing through iMessage on iPhones. Of course, the downside of that is if you really want to integrate well with that particular platform, you need build versions for both Android and iOS if you want to reach both audiences.

Hybrid Apps

If you want to reach audiences through multiple platforms in a cost effective way, then a hybrid app may be what you’re looking for. A hybrid app has the benefits of a website and a native app in one, hence the name hybrid. And because it is designed to be cross-platform, you can really reach Web, Android, and iOS using one development cycle. So the technology behind a hybrid app is really wrapping an existing website into a native app and then providing specific hooks to maybe send notification or provide monetization.

If your website already provides most of what you want your app to do, then a hybrid app is a really great way to reduce your costs while synching up with your existing website very quickly. However, there is a downside to this hybrid approach. Because it is so fast and easy to create, your app can sometimes feel like it’s not a full-fledged app that’s created for that platform and the user will not have as great of an experience. Plus, if your website already provides most of the functionality and your app doesn’t really add too much to it, then the users won’t really have an incentive to download your mobile app. So when you are really creating your mobile app, you should think about what you can do to provide value for your users while maintaining a cost-effective way of creating that app.