What’s the difference between a smartphone friendly website and a Mobile App?

Smartphone friendly websites. Mobile Apps. What’s the difference?

school mobile app screensWe provide schools with both smartphone friendly websites as well as school mobile apps. Very often there is some confusion between the two. And sometimes the killer feature of having a school mobile apps is overlooked all together! So let’s contrast and compare and tease out the differences.

1. A school mobile app is downloaded from the Google Play or Apple iTunes store and installed on your phone.

To create a mobile for a school we design the app using your branding and colours, build the app and then submit the app to Apple and Google for approval for entry into their respective app stores. It is then available to download for free from those stores. A smartphone friendly website however simply requires that the user views the website from their regular internet browser on their smartphone.

school mobile app menu2. A mobile app contains a focused subset of information

Our school apps contain a specific set of key information about the school; News items, Newsletters, School Calendar, Term Dates, Photo galleries, Letters, Useful Links and contact details. The smartphone friendly website is the whole website. It is the “regular” school website in it’s entirety but displayed in an optimised layout, allowing larger text and with a special mobile menu designed for use on touchscreens.

3. The information within a school mobile app is fed directly from the school website on a live basis

On this point, there is actually no difference. Both a school mobile app and smartphone friendly website share the same up to date information requiring no additional or duplicate input.

4. The main users of school mobile apps are current parents

Generally speaking, it will be mostly current parents who invest the time to download the school mobile app. A smartphone friendly version of the school website though will benefit every visitor, no matter how casual.

school push notification badge5. The killer feature! Mobile apps allow the school to send push notifications to be sent directly to the parents phone

This is where a smartphone friendly website falls behind and a school mobile app moves to the next level. Our school mobile apps allow the school to send a push notification direct to the phone of app users. The notification text will appear usually appear directly on the home screen of the parents phone as well as your bespoke app badge displaying the number of unread notifications. A bit like sending an SMS. Except you can send unlimited push notifications for FREE potentially saving money. And it gets better. The school can set up their own custom alert groups e.g. “Year 1” and parents can choose which groups they wish to subscribe to from within the app.

Given the prominent position of an app within a parents phone and the number of killer features, an app is an exceptional tool to help with parental engagement and communication.


We hope you found this comparison useful. You may think that with all these great features an individual school mobile app just for your school would cost thousands. This couldn’t be further form the truth! We think it would be great if every school had an app for their parents.

There are more details about how our school mobile apps work along with prices on our website. You can also view examples of smartphone friendly websites.


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