You may remember in 2012 when Facebook ditched mobile web (HTML5) and released its native mobile app. It was the same thing for LinkedIn in April of 2013. Among other things, both cited lower use of memory, faster load time, and longer visit duration with the native app.When it comes to mobile strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all, or even one-size-fits most. It depends on where your visitors are coming from and what they’re looking to gain.
Even for apartment communities, it’s going to vary from one audience to another. As you would imagine, a prospective resident isn’t going to download a native app for an apartment community they’re browsing, and might even be insulted by the mere suggestion—it’s a premature commitment… Like asking a girl to move-in with you on the first date, she hasn’t even decided if she’s interested yet. But for the 34 percent of visitors to resident portal websites who come via mobile device, these are long-term users who will routinely need to interact with their apartment community’s online tools. For that, native mobile apps provide some distinct advantages for residents portals:
Touch-friendly Buttons and Text Entry Fields: What’s nice about native apps is that you’re really able to execute a consistent display so that residents have no trouble when they’re entering information for things like rent payments. User interaction for responsive sites and HTML5 is unstable from one device to another—testing is a constant battle with every new device and again for each site update. With a native app for Apple and Android, you’ve got 90% of the market covered, and you control exactly how your site functions and appears.
Access to Device API’s: Built-in components such as the device camera can be seamlessly integrated with a native app (and with most hybrid apps as well), which is especially helpful for online work orders so residents can attach photos at the touch of a finger.
Longer Visit Duration and Frequency: The fact is, mobile users spend 80% of their time on apps and 20% in browsers.* Engaged users interact longer and more often with apps, and aside from providing a better experience for users, this translates to higher online adoption, interaction, and compliance for apartment community residents.
Fluid Experience and Animations: All native gestures (such as swipe, pinch, tilt, orientation, swinging, and shaking) are available to native apps. Certain mobile websites have been able execute swipe in recent months, but it’s still sketchy from one device to another and really that’s the only native motion that’s been successfully launched in mobile websites. Mobile websites don’t have the look and feel of native mobile apps, because they’re quite literally just smaller websites.
Push Notifications and Reminders: Native apps also have the ability to tap into permissioned push notifications and reminders—those are the little messages that pop-up on your device to alert you to some event with one of your apps, like a new badge or message. So say you wanted to create a rent reminder push notification 2 days before the first of the month, that’s totally possibly with a native app.
No Internet Connection Required: Because apps are locally installed on the device, they can function without internet connection. So regardless of whether a resident’s mobile phone is connected, they could have access to data and functions that have been developed for local storage. You’ll sometimes see this come into play with mobile leasing tablet apps that are used for apartment tours and lease-ups, because wifi can be spotty from one area of the property to another and the app can still launch regardless.
Better Security: Especially when you’re dealing with resident information, it’s important that technology is outfitted with necessary strongholds to protect their personal data. That considered, native apps offer greater access to advanced security features and encryption so you know your customers are protected.
More Branded Content: Without the toolbars and clutter that’s included on a mobile website, native apps have more real estate available for branded content. You’re able to customize a unique experience outside the browser frame.
Here’s what it comes down to: Native apps provide the greatest benefit for long-term customers looking to perform regular account actions. When your customers need to go beyond the information discovery phase of mobile web, native apps help them get stuff done. And this translates to higher online compliance, conversion, and ultimately, monetary value for your apartment community.