Founder Resources: Web vs. Mobile Applications for Startups

By: MassLight Team

A mobile app is a software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Mobile apps can be downloaded from an app store such as Apple's App Store or Google Play, or directly from a website.

Mobile apps are typically developed specifically for a particular mobile operating system, such as Android or iOS, and are optimized for use on smaller screens and touch-based input. They can serve a wide range of purposes, from providing entertainment and social networking to productivity and utility, such as fitness tracking or mobile banking.

Mobile apps can also make use of various device features, such as GPS location, camera, and microphone, to provide additional functionality and enhance the user experience. They can be free or paid, and can generate revenue through in-app purchases, subscriptions, or advertisements.

Startup Founders and Mobile Apps

A web application, also known as a web app, is a software application that runs on a web server and can be accessed through a web browser over the internet. Web applications are typically built using web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and can be accessed by users on any device with an internet connection.

Unlike native mobile apps, web applications don't need to be downloaded or installed on a user's device. Instead, they are accessed through a web browser and can be updated and maintained centrally on the server. This makes them a cost-effective solution for businesses and organizations that want to provide online services, such as online shopping, social networking, or productivity tools.

Web applications can be designed to be responsive, meaning they can adapt to different screen sizes and devices, and can make use of various web APIs to provide additional functionality, such as real-time data updates or geolocation services. They can also be integrated with other web services and databases, enabling complex data-driven applications.

There are several reasons why not all applications have a web and mobile version.  These include cost, user experience (UX), functionality, and target audience.


Developing and maintaining multiple versions of an application can be a costly process. This is especially true when creating web and mobile versions of an application, since they may require different skills and technologies. Additionally, web and mobile versions may also require additional resources such as servers, hosting, and testing.

Servers, for example, can be one of the more expensive aspects of web and mobile apps. Web and mobile apps typically implement servers in different ways depending on their architecture and requirements.

For web apps, the server is an essential component that processes requests from clients, retrieves and manipulates data from a database, and returns the appropriate responses. The server-side logic of a web app is typically implemented using server-side programming languages such as PHP, Java, or Node.js, and may run on a dedicated server or a cloud-based platform such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.

For mobile apps, servers are typically used to store and manage data, handle user authentication, and provide additional functionality through web APIs. Mobile apps can communicate with servers using various protocols such as HTTP or WebSockets, and can interact with server-side scripts that perform complex operations and return data in a standardized format such as JSON or XML.

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Both web and mobile apps can use different types of servers such as application servers, database servers, or web servers depending on their requirements. For example, a web app that requires real-time communication may use a WebSocket server, while a mobile app that needs to store and retrieve data may use a cloud-based database service. Ultimately, the choice of server implementation depends on the specific needs of the app and the resources available to the development team.

Therefore, the decision to develop multiple versions of an application must take into consideration the resources required and the potential benefits that can be obtained.

User Experience (UX)

User experience (UX) refers to the overall experience that a user has while interacting with a product or service. It encompasses all aspects of the user's interaction, including the visual design, ease of use, accessibility, and overall satisfaction with the product or service.

A good user experience is essential for any product or service, as it can greatly impact how users perceive and engage with it. A positive user experience can result in increased user satisfaction, loyalty, and retention, as well as higher conversion rates and increased revenue.

UX design involves a variety of methods and techniques to ensure that a product or service is easy to use, intuitive, and enjoyable for users. This includes user research, user testing, prototyping, and iterative design. By focusing on the needs and preferences of users, UX designers can create products and services that are effective, engaging, and easy to use.

Certain types of applications may not translate well to a web or mobile environment, as they require specific hardware capabilities or rely heavily on complex graphics. For example, some video games require powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) or high-end CPUs to render complex graphics and provide a smooth gaming experience. These types of applications are generally not suitable for web or mobile platforms, as they may not have the necessary hardware resources to run the application efficiently.

Other applications that rely heavily on specific hardware features, such as sensors, cameras, or microphones, may also not translate well to a web or mobile environment. This is because the web and mobile platforms may not provide access to these features or may provide limited access that may not be sufficient for the application's requirements.

In some cases, the limitations of web and mobile platforms may be overcome by using technologies such as WebGL or WebAssembly that can provide access to lower-level hardware capabilities or enable the execution of complex code in a web browser. However, these technologies may require additional development effort and may not be widely supported across all devices and browsers.

Overall, when developing applications, it's important to consider the specific needs and requirements of the application to determine whether it can be effectively implemented on a web or mobile platform. If the application relies heavily on specific hardware capabilities or requires complex graphics, it may be more suitable for a desktop environment or a dedicated hardware platform.

Startup Founders and Web Apps


When deciding whether to develop a mobile or web version of an application, it's important to consider the target audience and their preferred platform. Some applications may be primarily used by a specific audience or market that is more likely to use one platform over another. For example, a business application that is primarily used by desktop users may not need a mobile version if the majority of its users work primarily from their desktop computers.

In other cases, an application may be designed specifically for a mobile audience, such as a social media app or a gaming app, and may not require a web version. These types of apps may be more effective on mobile platforms due to their unique features and the fact that they are often used on-the-go.

In some cases, an application may need to be developed for both web and mobile platforms to ensure maximum accessibility and reach. This is particularly important for applications that are designed for a broader audience or that need to be accessible across multiple devices and platforms.

Ultimately, the decision to develop a mobile or web version of an application should be based on a variety of factors, including the target audience, user requirements, and business objectives. By understanding the needs and preferences of users, developers can create effective and engaging applications that are tailored to specific platforms and user experiences.

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